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As computers become faster and generate more heat it gets more important to have good ventilation, but that also increases the amount of dust sticking to the components of the computer. It's of course better to make sure the computer never gets dusty by vacuum cleaning around it (not in it) frequently. But what to do if it's already to late?

I've heard that vacuum cleaning the computer itself is very bad, since it can cause static electricity that hurts the computer. So,

Does anyone have any tips for how to remove dust from your computer?

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One thing to consider is to use a PC case that has a filter screen on the front intake. Two of my PC's are in Antec cases that have such a filter screen. While it doesn't prevent all dust from entering the machine, it does capture a considerable deal. Though, I need to remember to clean the filters once in a while. –  Chris W. Rea Jul 16 '09 at 2:17
    
I find that if I don't clean my filters it fills up slower than if I do - presumably the settled dust provides extra filtering... As long as it doesn't warm up too much :) –  romkyns Feb 14 '10 at 13:30
    
Forget about using dusty air as a coolant, switch to oil. tomshardware.com/reviews/strip-fans,1203.html –  Andrew Jun 29 '12 at 5:05

15 Answers 15

up vote 17 down vote accepted

I personally used canned air (aka difluroethane).

Just make sure you don't let the blades of the fan spin while you are spraying the canned air as it may damage something.

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But.. but.. I like the little whirly sound the tiny fans make when I spray compressed air at them! :) –  Chris W. Rea Jul 16 '09 at 0:51
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What kind of damage could happen from the fan spinning? –  Aidan Ryan Jul 16 '09 at 1:10
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@Aidan - Well, it could be the case that the canned air makes the fan spin more than its designed rpm, plus by actually keeping the blades stationary you blow the dust off more effectively... –  Alexis Hirst Jul 16 '09 at 10:25
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Spinning the blades makes the motor work like a dynamo, the energy generated could damage your components. Plus, spinning the fans faster than their original RPM can melt the bearings. –  thijs Aug 18 '09 at 8:48
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In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. I've been cutting loose with difluroethane on unrestrained dusty fans for 20+ years, though, with no mystery failures. So, I don't buy it. –  Mark Johnson Aug 8 '12 at 5:11

Here's a nifty little tool that allows to you "blow air" (similar to canned air) but through use of manual labor. Unlimited source of air, and gets you a little bit of exercise as well ;)

rubber blower

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Care to explain what that is and how it functions? I suppose pressing the black part releases air through the red part? –  Jonas Jul 15 '09 at 10:26
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@Jonas: Yes, you're right. It's something that has been in my toolbox like forever... but the one I have exists out of only one part of rubber and is orange (didn't find a picture of such one though). It lets you "blow" dry air. It's like the canned air mentioned by Alexis, but never runs out. –  fretje Jul 15 '09 at 11:54
    
@fretje: Interesting. Is it strong enough? I really have no idea if it needs to be very strong, but I guess that could be an issue. –  Jonas Jul 15 '09 at 12:01
    
@Jonas: It depends how hard you squeeze it... I doubt it will be strong enough for dust that has been piling up for years though... –  fretje Jul 15 '09 at 12:38
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@fretje: Then I guess using this when possible and use canned air if needed is a good idea. Thanks for the tip! –  Jonas Jul 15 '09 at 14:42

Air compressor is great as long as you're holding fan blades while cleaning around them - else it can get pretty expensive.

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If you're using an air compressor, make sure you have a moisture trap attached to the nozzle so you don't get water into your machine. Also it's best to blow the dust out of machine somewhere well-ventilated, or to wear a dust mask, as breathing in your (or someone else's) old skin cells covered in dust mites isn't healthy. –  David Hicks Aug 18 '09 at 22:53

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An Air Blower like this. Cheap and works very well.

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That looks like a leaf blower to me... –  Zifre Aug 18 '09 at 23:57
    
These do work very well though (for the purpose stated in the question) –  Imran Aug 19 '09 at 16:49
    
They're cheap, but only available in lots of 500... –  martineau Oct 19 '12 at 17:32

Although it might not be the safest option, I just open the computer up and get the vacuum cleaner and suck all the dust up. I have never had any problems with that.

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I've done once or twice. However, some people suggests static electricity caused by the vacuum cleaner could damage the computer. Anyone who has had problems after using a vacuum cleaner? –  Jonas Jul 16 '09 at 7:38
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I use the vacuum cleaner every time I open mine up, and have never had a problem. But I try not to touch anything with the nozzle, so that might help. –  chris Jul 19 '09 at 2:20
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I once destroyed my IDE controller with a vacuum cleaner. Then I switched to compressed air and I never destroyed anything again. –  thijs Aug 18 '09 at 8:50
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I once destroyed my 8" floppy drive with compressed air. Then I switched to a vacuum cleaner an never destroyed anything again. –  dlamblin Aug 18 '09 at 9:00
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Real men use butterflies –  David Pearce Feb 15 '10 at 7:59

Combination of a vacuum cleaner, a can of compressed air, and ambidexterity worthy of a ninja.

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I recommend using a hose. But do it in the yard so you don't flood the room.

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But only for water-cooled computers. –  chris Jul 19 '09 at 2:20

Airbrush and canned air

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Airbrush and compressed air. –  dlamblin Aug 18 '09 at 9:01

There are a few solutions to the problem of a dusty computer:

  • Canned/compressed air. This is the most popular solution.
  • Handheld vacuum cleaner. Little chance of this working if you don't open up your computer's case.
  • Manual, handheld air pump. Obviously, a bit more tedious than the other two. However, it doesn't ever run out of air, and it doesn't need a battery or a cord.

Keep in mind, fan blades inside of the computer shouldn't be allowed to spin while you're cleaning. This could cause damage.

Also, you'll get your computer the cleanest if you open the case and get really close to the dusty parts. A few years of dust can encase the boards, cards, and other hardware in there!

If you use a blower (like canned air), rather than a sucker (like a vacuum), be sure to use it in a well ventilated place. You may want to consider even doing it outdoors. Otherwise, you'll just blow the dust into the computer's own environment, and it will become dusty again more quickly.

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If its somehow impossible to use compressed air of any sort, never try to simulate using your lungs. You don't want to get spit all over your components, and saves your nose from bouts of sneezing too.

I personally like to use a tiny duster, those used for makeup (for the girls to put their powder) , combined with cotton buds and tissue for hard to reach places. Just make sure the girl you got it from never uses it again.

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Compressed air is definitely a must for all the computer components, but it does have the problem of sending dust all over you case. So, for cleaning all the excess dust from the case, which I never forget when doing yearly cleanings, I just use a lightly damp paper towel to do a quick clean on your case only. You can also do this on your fans, just make sure you remove the grills first and make sure that they are dry before putting them back in to your case.

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I use a 1 kg Makita leaf blower which I use on PCs, printers, and even the keyboard. It's fast and anti-static and can be a high-velocity vacuum as well. It's not worth much, but it's handy.

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I use a 100 psi air compressor that pushes 5.3 gpm (gallons per minute at 90psi) of air. Once a year or so I go full force for 30 seconds or so (do the math) on my HP 8510W for nothing less but to reduce the fan speed. Which by the way has worked.

I have never had an issue and if the can of air is an issue, it may be from that white hazy stuff that is caused from the can itself.

Air should not cause the issue, particulates may.

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Looks impressive - and sounds too. youtube.com/watch?v=3IvSz5NSOMk&feature=related –  Aki Apr 8 '11 at 7:45

I personally use specially designed air-under-pressure containers which act like deodorants, but contain only air. The fast airflow is good for cleaning away the dust and dirt especially between keys on the keyboard and in the ventilator compartment.

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You can also use an anti-static brush. They sell cheap at Amazon.

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