The Spring Cleaning Checklist & Toolset for Your Windows PC

Joe Keeley 18-03-2016

You need to look after your computer. The hardware can collect dust and spread dirt, while the software can get bloated How to Easily Remove Bloatware From Windows 10 Windows 10 comes with its own set of pre-installed apps. Let's look at the methods you can use to remove the bloatware on your PC and debloat Windows 10. Read More and slow down your system. By engaging in regular cleaning, you can ensure that your computer will always be at the top of its game.


To help you out, we’ve rounded up a checklist of things to do to keep your hardware and software clean, along with providing steps on how to do it. If you’re reading this on a dusty monitor, scrolling on a dirty mouse, or operating a slow computer Slow Computer? 4 Ways To Speed Things Up Buying a new computer can really set you back a pretty penny. So have you considered upgrading what you have now? Read More , these tips are for you.

As always, we love to hear your own ideas, so be sure to let us know in the comments section how you clean your Windows computer.


Your hardware can get grubby quickly. Not only does it look bad, but it can have serious implications — not only on your system performance, but your health, too. Get out those microfiber cloths and compressed air cans, we’re going in.

Keyboard and Mouse

You have your hands over your keyboard and mouse all the time, so they’re bound to get dirty, no matter how clean you think you are. In fact, Which? Computing magazine examined 33 keyboards back in 2008 and detected E. coli and S. aureus on some. Both strains of bacteria can make you ill. Some keyboards were found to be dirtier than an office toilet seat.

You’re itching to clean your peripherals now, right? If you’ve never cleaned them before, then you might have a task ahead of you. Once spick and span, keep it up periodically — once a month should do the trick, but it depends on your habits and environment. There’s definitely no harm in doing it more often.


dusty keyboard

Before beginning the clean, make sure to unplug your keyboard and mouse. If they’re wireless then take out the batteries. You can also use a took like KeyFreeze to block your laptop keyboard.

For your keyboard, turn it upside down and give it some shakes to clear any debris. If you have a specially designed small vacuum then you can use that to get between the keys and at dust, but otherwise you can use a compressed air can.

Grab some disinfectant wipes (if they’re too wet, wring them out a bit) and use them to clean the keys and surrounding area to get rid of any germs. Then do so the same with a lightly wetted microfiber cloth. Finally, use a dry microfiber cloth to remove the remaining moisture.


dirty pc mouse

If you’ve ever heard that you can run your keyboard through a dishwasher, ignore this advice. The majority of the time this will just break your keyboard, so it’s just not worth it.

For your mouse, do a similar thing. Use some disinfectant wipes for an initial clean, then follow up with a slightly wet microfiber cloth, ensuring not to rub any dirt or moisture into the crevasses. Finally, use a dry microfiber cloth to finish the job off and fully dry the mouse.


Your monitor is extremely delicate. Unlike the old and bulky CRTs, modern screens don’t have a thick layer of glass that needs cleaning. You should never use a purely alcohol-based spray because this might strip some of the monitor’s coatings. You should also never use a standard cloth or paper towel because these aren’t smooth. Even rubbing a bit of dust round with these could cause scratches on the monitor.


As such, you should always use a microfiber cloth. Before beginning, turn your monitor off at the plug and let it cool down. Then use the microfiber cloth to lightly wipe the screen and clear it of any obvious bits of dust. Wipe with broad strokes, rather than in a circular motion, and apply light pressure only.

monitor cleaning

If you need something stronger, very lightly dampen the microfiber cloth with distilled water. Never use tap water as the salts in it can damage the screen and also never spray fluid directly onto the screen. If there’s still stains, step it up with a half and half combination of distilled water and white vinegar.

To check whether your monitor is clean, you can use a site like White Screen for some full-screen color to spot dirt against. Remember, turn the monitor off if you need to start cleaning again.


For more information on cleaning your monitor, check out our guide to effectively cleaning LCD screens The Best Way To Effectively Clean LCD Monitor Screens Read More .


The inside of your computer needs cleaning, too. This is because dust can clog up the fans or damage the circuits. How often you choose to do this will vary, depending on factors like where your system is kept and whether you have pets. Generally speaking, you should clean it out every 8 months or so.

To begin, switch off your computer, let it cool down, and move it to an open area that is well ventilated — you’ll be kicking up dust. Then ground yourself What Is Static Electricity? And How to Get Rid of It Concerned about static electricity? If you're building a PC, you should be. Learn how to get rid of static electricity today. Read More and open up your case. If you’re not sure how to do this, refer to your manufacturer’s manual. Next, grab a can of compressed air and use short, strong bursts to blow the dust out of the case.

dusty pc fan

If you’re cleaning a fan, hold it in place so that it doesn’t spin. Spinning the fans the wrong way can damage them, but it’ll also make it easier to clean if they’re static.

If there’s some dirt that refuses to budge, you can use a high quality soft brush to get rid of it. Providing you’re comfortable doing so, you can also remove the components to get a better angle on them and give them a proper clean.


Now that the physical parts of your computer are nice and clean, it’s time to turn a hand to the operating system and software that is powering it.

Uninstall Unnecessary Programs

If you purchased a pre-built computer, then chances are your manufacturer installed bloatware on it. Similarly, if you’ve been using your system for a while, then there might be programs on your drive that you no longer use. It’s time to get rid of these and free up disk space Need A Disk Cleanup? Visualize What Takes Up Space On Your Windows PC Oh the pressure when you run out of disk space. What to delete? The fastest way to locate junk files is to use a tool that helps you visualize your system's file structure. Read More .

Do a system search for uninstall a program and select the relevant result. You’ll see a list of everything installed on your system and you can use the column headers, like Installed On and Size, to order the results.


Run through the entire list to see if there’s anything you no longer need. When discovered, right-click the program and then click Uninstall.

Check out our guide on how to uninstall programs in bulk How To Install & Uninstall Windows Programs In Bulk A mass installer or uninstaller can save you heaps of time. Remember the last time you set up a new computer? We are going to teach you how to do these tasks in a flash. Read More if there’s a lot you need to get rid of.

Deduplicate Your Data

A really quick way of filling up your hard or solid state drive is with duplicate data. You probably have a lot of repeated data on your system without realizing it. These could be multiple backups of the same thing, repeated downloads, or misplaced files. Whatever the cause, it’s time to clean up.

The Spring Cleaning Checklist & Toolset for Your Windows PC delete duplicates dupeguru

Handily, there’s many free tools available online that can help you quickly identify and remove duplicate data. One of the best is dupeGuru because it uses a fuzzy matching algorithm. This means that even if the file name isn’t exactly the same, it’ll look for those that are similarly named. There’s also separate music and picture versions that will scan cross-formats.

For a full overview of programs, head over to our list of tools to quickly delete duplicate files Delete Duplicate Files Quickly With These Tools One of the fastest ways to clog up your hard drive is to store duplicate files. Most of the time, you probably aren’t even aware that you have duplicate files. They come from a variety... Read More .

Refine Startup Programs

If you’ve noticed that your computer is taking longer than previously to boot up, it could be that you’ve got too many programs set to launch immediately and automatically on startup.

While you might still want the programs on your system, it could be unnecessary for them to be launching on boot. These include utilities like iTunes Helper, Spotify Web Helper, and CyberLink YouCam. Read our guide on non-essential startup items you can safely remove 10 Startup Programs You Can Safely Disable to Speed Up Windows Computer booting slowly? You probably have too many programs running at startup. Here's how to disable startup programs on Windows. Read More for more information.

task manager startup

To disable these startup items, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open the Task Manager. Then switch to the Start-up tab. Here you will see all the startup process, which you can then left-click to select and then press Disable to stop them from automatically launching. We’ve also rounded up all the ways to disable startup programs Remove Windows Startup Items to Fix Your Slow Computer for Free Programs launching at boot can affect both the Windows startup speed and your computer's overall performance. Fix your slow computer by removing applications from auto-start. We show you how to catch them all. Read More for in-depth coverage.

Keep it Clean

Now that you’ve got these tips you can follow them regularly to keep your system looking its best and operating at full potential Which Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most? Need a faster computer but aren't sure what you should upgrade on your PC? Follow our PC upgrade checklist to find out. Read More . It doesn’t take long to clean your computer, but the benefits of doing so are great.

If your system is still running slow, head over to our ultimate Windows speed up guide. Alternatively, if you’re still in the cleaning mood, then find out how to sort out your desktop once and for all How to Clean Up Your Windows Desktop Once and For All Do you look at your Windows desktop and wonder how to clean it up? Here are some decluttering tips that can make you productive. Read More .

How often do you clean your computer? What methods do you use to clean your hardware and software?

Image Credits: Hand and blue rag cleaning wall by Bohbeh via Shutterstock, Old Dirty and Dusty Laptop Keyboard by agrofruti via Shutterstock, Dirty Old Mouse by toowaret via Shutterstock, Close Up Of Woman Hands Cleaning Laptop Screen by Syda Productions via Shutterstock, Computer Fan Dust, Close Up, Macro by Scharfsinn via Shutterstock

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Computer Monitor, Computer Mouse Tips, Keyboard, Uninstaller.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Ben Franklin
    September 22, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    I have a Corsair Carbide 500R case, it's a mid-tower and it's got 6 fans. It's easier to keep it clean in the first place if you can. I have dust filters over all the fans and sealed up the openings in the back with duct tape and filter media cut to fit. I blow it out once or twice a month, with a compressor (pays for itself in less then a year) and sometimes take the vacuum hose to it when I'm vacuuming the room. This keeps it all fairly clean inside. You will have some reduction in efficiency with the dust filters but that can't be helped, and doesn't make much difference anyway. I run HWmonior and the Corsair link 4 program and the H100 water cooling keeps it cool enough

  2. Anonymous
    March 19, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    I keep a tube of Clorox Glass Wipes. Great for both monitor and keyboard... and everything else.

  3. Anonymous
    March 19, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    To clean my software after testing many, many softwaresolutions: only rest Glary utilities and Privazer. All the other are unessential.