A Spring Cleaning Checklist For Your PC Part 1: Hardware Cleaning

Tina Sieber 03-04-2012

clean my pcWith the arrival of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, houses across the globe get a nice cleaning to rid them of dirt and clutter that has accumulated over the past year. Dust and junk also settle on our computer. Whether your PC is suffering from a clocked up fan or an overloaded hard drive, it is time to give it a thorough spring cleaning. With the following checklist this will be a breeze.


In part 1 of this checklist, I will take you through the physical cleaning checkpoints of your desktop computer or laptop. In part 2 I will follow up with a list of things you can do to purge obsolete files, unused programs, crapware and more from your Windows machine.

Before you clean your pc hardware, keep these general tips in mind:

  • shut down the computer
  • remove the battery (if applicable)
  • unplug the power cable
  • ground yourself

1. Clean Your Keyboard

A study by the University of Arizona found that keyboards are dirtier than a toilet seat. Frankly, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. When was the last time you cleaned your keyboard? Dirty keyboards are a health hazard and a spring cleaning is quick and easy.

You can carefully vacuum the keyboard to remove loose particles and dust. Afterwards, wipe the keys with a lint-free cloth that is lightly dampened. Finally, disinfect the keyboard using alcohol wipes or spray some alcohol-containing cleaner on your cloth. If the keyboard is seriously manky, you can also take it apart and wash the keys in bulk. Be sure to take a photo of the keyboard first, so that it’s easier to re-assemble.

The video below is for an external Mac keyboard. However, the steps are equally valid for any other standard external or laptop keyboards.


If you have a modern Mac-like chiclet keyboard, check out the bottom section of this article for hands-on keyboard cleaning advice: How To Deal With Spilled Coffee or Coke on Your Macbook How To Deal With Spilled Coffee or Coke on Your Macbook If you have spilled coffee or Coke on your MacBook the best you can do for it is be courageous. Read More

2. Clean Your Mouse

If your keyboard is dirty, obviously so is your mouse. You can clean the top surface with a lint-free cloth. Also make sure to give the light diode at the bottom a careful wipe with a Q-tip. If you have an old mechanical ball mouse, take out the ball to remove dust, hair, and particles.

A Spring Cleaning Checklist For Your PC Part 1: Hardware Cleaning Clean Computer Mouse


When you’re done, try this Ultimate Mouse Calibration Test.

3. Clean The Fan/s

Whether you have a desktop computer or a laptop, your CPU (central processing unit) and GPU (graphics processing unit) need cooling. This is generally achieved through a fan that cools a heat sink, which disperses heat from the processor/s. When the air intake grills, the fan/s or the vents are blocked by dust, the cooling is less efficient. Consequently, the processor/s run/s hot faster and more frequently, which can cause the processor/s to become slower or even break prematurely. Hence, it is in your best interest to give the fan/s, intake grills, and vents a good cleaning to ensure optimal air flow and cooling.

A Spring Cleaning Checklist For Your PC Part 1: Hardware Cleaning Clean Computer Fan

How exactly this is done depends on your computer model. I recommend searching Google and YouTube and I’m sure you will find instructions. Generally, you can expose your computer fans, then use a vacuum cleaner or canned air to remove dust, and a damp cloth to wipe it down. Do the same for the intake grills and vents. DO NOT remove the heat sink unless you are prepared to replace the thermal compound!


If you own a laptop, also have a look at this article: How To Fix An Overheating Laptop How to Fix an Overheating Laptop: 3 Key Tips and Solutions The greatest threat to your laptop is overheating. Here's how to cool down your laptop and prevent it from getting too hot. Read More

4. Clean Your LCD Monitor

Cleaning a modern LCD screen isn’t the same as cleaning an old-fashioned CRT monitor. That is because CRTs are covered with glass, while LCD displays have a softer plastic-based surface. To clean your LCD without damaging it, you need a lint-free cloth, distilled water (for dust) or isopropyl alcohol or white vinegar (for oily stains) and a bottle, ideally an atomizer. Spray your cloth with water or a 1:1 isopropyl alcohol : water mixture. Then carefully wipe the screen with the damp cloth.

clean my pc

For thorough instructions and additional tips, please see this article: The Best Way To Effectively Clean LCD Monitor Screens The Best Way To Effectively Clean LCD Monitor Screens Read More


What You Should & Should Not Do

Whatever electronic equipment you are cleaning, do not clean it while it is turned on! Do turn the device off and remove the power source. Do not use dripping wet sponges or cloths. Do use damp cloths and alcohol-based cleaners as they will dry faster. Do not attempt to dismantle a device if you are unsure whether or not you will be able to put it back together. Do consult a manual or instructions from the manufacturer.

Do you regularly clean your PC hardware? Got any tips to share with us? What did I forget to mention?

Image credits: Gloved Hand with Sponges via Shutterstock, Cleaning Computer Mouse via Shutterstock, Cooling Fan in Laptop via Shutterstock, Woman Cleaning Computer via Shutterstock

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  1. Sunita Gopalan
    February 13, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    Interesting stuff...thanks so much.
    I feel like a Geek!

  2. mike
    June 24, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    I would have thought that.... cleaning the dust out of your PC would have been included also.

    • Tina Sieber
      June 26, 2017 at 5:26 pm

      We focused on cleaning the fans here.

  3. Elizabeth Salvage
    April 9, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    Clothes? Cloths?

    • Tina Sieber
      April 9, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      Ha! So many years and no one caught that one. Thanks for pointing it out, Elizabeth! Fixed now. :)

  4. Siddharth
    April 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    I have cleaned my computer keyboard but i am having a problem my 'e' letter has stopped working Plz somebody help

    • Tina
      April 6, 2012 at 6:11 pm

      How did you clean your keyboard, Siddharth?
      What kind of keyboard do you have?

      Maybe a crumb got stuck underneath the key or it is not properly clicked into place. Did you try to remove the key and click it back into place?

  5. JoeyDee
    April 4, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Nice work Tina, TY!

    • Tina
      April 4, 2012 at 10:01 pm

      Thank you JoeyDee!

  6. Aung Htet
    April 4, 2012 at 3:19 am

    My computer is also dirty as toilet. HA HA! I have to clean my computer. Thanks for your post.

  7. Bruce Epper
    April 3, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    I find it kind of funny that most people do view this as something to be done once a year. I end up doing this at least quarterly, but I live in Arizona, so dust in the machines tends to be a bigger problem especially during the monsoon with the haboobs blowing through. And since I use a trackball instead of a mouse (limited desk space), I have to clean that out 2 or 3 times per week as it gets gummed up a bit.

    • Ravi Lamontagne
      April 4, 2012 at 2:55 am

      that must be really annoying

    • Tina
      April 4, 2012 at 10:01 pm

      Wow, thanks for sharing! I feel very happy living in a more balanced climate now.