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Spring Cleaning Your Computer

Spring officially arrives next week. But temps are already spring-like. That prompted us to remind you to Spring Clean Your Computer. This is a post we originally published in 2005. but it's advice rings true today:

You regularly clean and maintain your car, right? Changing the oil, rotating the tires, checking the belts (You DO do that, don’t you?). You even wash it on occasion!  But most of us depend as much if not more on our computers for our livelihood than our cars. And I bet you never, ever, gave a thought to cleaning your computer!

This article will walk you through the steps to clean the outside of your computer including: monitor, ‘box’, keyboard and mouse.

Your working environment determines the needed frequency for cleaning your computer. Here’s a general rule:

Clean your computer every 2-6 months. Here’s a rough definition for the 2 extreme work environments. Most of you will find your work environment falls somewhere in this range.

  • Every 2 months - You smoke, have pets around or work in a factory environment.
  • Every 5 Months – You don’t smoke, don’t have pets in your office, you’re the sole user and you work in a standard office building setting.
  • Eating and drinking around your computer: We all do it. It’s not a good habit. Here’s why: Food in Keyboard or Mouse: VERY bad. Liquid in keyboards? VERY, VERY bad.


  • Always turn off your computer first.
  • When using a vacuum to suck up dirt, dust, or hair be cautious not to suck up any removable parts.
  • Never spray or squirt any type of liquid onto any computer component. If a spray is needed spray the liquid onto a cloth and then use that cloth to rub down the component.
  • Check your allergies. Check your allergies first before using any cleaning solvents.


You can go to any computer store and purchase expensive cleaning kits, but most people have the basic cleaning tools around their house or office.

  • Cloth - A lint-free cloth is the best tool used when rubbing down a component.
  • Water or rubbing alcohol - When moistening a cloth it is best to use water or rubbing alcohol. Other solvents may be bad for the plastics.
  • Vacuum - Sucking the dust, dirt, hair, cigarette particles, and other particles out of a computer can be one of the best methods of cleaning a computer. Over time these items can restrict the airflow in a computer and cause circuitry to corrode.
  • Cotton swabs - Cotton swaps moistened with rubbing alcohol or water are excellent tools for wiping hard to reach areas in your keyboard, mouse, and other locations.
  • Can of Compressed Air – These can be obtained from any computer store and a lot of the major chain retail stores.

So let’s get started.

First, we will clean the CASE.
The plastic case that houses the PC components can be cleaned with a lint free cloth that has been slightly dampened with water. For stubborn stains, add a little household detergent to the cloth. It is recommended that you never use a solvent cleaner on plastics. Next, make sure all vents and air holes are free of hair and lint by rubbing a cloth over the holes and vents. It is also helpful to take a vacuum around each of the hole, vents, and crevices on the computer.

Now for the MONITOR.
The monitor screen can be cleaned with ordinary household glass cleaner. I use the Windex Wipes. Be sure to remove power from the monitor and spray the cleaner onto a lint free cloth so the fluid doesn't leak into the electrical components inside the monitor. Vacuum off any dust that has settled on top of the monitor, and make sure no books or papers have been placed on the air vents. Obstructed monitor vents can cause the monitor to overheat or even catch on fire.

To clean the rollers of a mouse you must first remove the bottom cover of the mouse. To do this, examine the bottom of the mouse to see which direction the mouse cover should be rotated. Place two fingers on the mouse cover and push the direction of the arrows.

Once the cover has rotated about an inch, covering the bottom of the mouse with one hand, turn the over mouse to its normal position and the bottom should fall off including the mouse ball. If this does not occur attempt to shake the mouse gently.

Once the bottom cover and the ball are removed you should be able to see three rollers located within the mouse. Use a cotton swab, your finger, and/or fingernail and move in a horizontal direction of the rollers. Usually there will be a small line of hair and or dirt in the middle of the roller, remove this dirt and or hair as much as possible. Next, dampen a lint-free cloth with alcohol and scrub the mouse ball.

Once you have removed as much dirt and hair as possible place the ball back within the mouse and place the cover back on. Use a cloth moistened with rubbing alcohol or warm water and rubs the surface of the mouse and each of its buttons.

Many people clean the keyboard by turning it upside down and shaking. A more effective method is to use compressed air. Compressed air is pressurized air contained in a can with a very long nozzle. Simply aim the air between the keys and blow away all of the dust and debris that has gathered there. A vacuum cleaner can also be used, but make sure the keyboard doesn't have loose”pop off" keys that could possibly be sucked up by the vacuum. If you need to clean between the keys, dampen a cotton swab with alcohol and use it to clean the area between the keys. Use a cloth moistened with rubbing alcohol or warm water and rubs the surface of the keys to remove any dirt there.

So that covers the external parts of your computer. Next month we will cover cleaning the internal part. That’s where it gets VERY exciting.

Feel free to call me if you have any questions:

Dana White, IT Guy Extraordinaire

641-470-1640, ext. 17


Disclaimer: We can't guarantee any of these suggestions will work or that they won't have negative impact on your ability to use your computer. They work for us. We use them. But we don't know your computer requirements or what equipment you use right now,  or if you pay close attention and read all the instructions,  or if you won't be distracted by a colleague or customer at a critical moment. You could be consuming alcohol or illegal drugs or have a great big spat with your spouse and so want to use this advice we share with you here as an excuse to create havoc for your company and ours. That's outside our realm of influence. But we do assume all of our customers will appreciate some advice from someone who shares their dependency on computers. And in that light, we offer these tips. Hope they help.

March 15, 2007 in Web/Tech | Permalink


Thanks for that added info.

Posted by: Zane | May 21, 2007 9:56:18 AM

Cleaning a CRT monitor with 'household glass cleaner' might damage the anti-glare coating of the monitor, especially if the monitor was manufactured after 1995.
Cleaning a TFT monitor with 'household glass cleaner' is almost certainly going to significantly damage the TFT's coating. I would very strongly recommend against it. NEVER use chemicals on a TFT display unless you are certain they are not harmful to the display.

As many people have asked me about TFT displays over the years, I wrote an article about this on my blog sometime last year. You can find the article here.

Posted by: cosmix | May 20, 2007 6:34:06 PM

hey,i agree with you that computer should be clean in proper manner at regular interval and cleaning should in some sensitive manner and also with proper care when cleaning things like mouse,keyboard,etc.By cleaning components will work nicely.to know more about computer components... computercomponents

Posted by: gene | Mar 22, 2007 4:54:18 AM