Both involve using moving air to remove dust and other debris- so why the stigma around using a vacuum cleaner nozzle?

In both cases you are just moving air (negative vs positive pressure), so the static risk should be the same, no?

Also, compressed air causes a massive temperature drop and can cause a small amount of condensation on components during cleaning.

Why is compressed air, therefore, considered better than vacuuming? Has anyone actually damaged any electronic equipment with vacuuming before?

(I've been doing it for years with nothing but fantastic results.)

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A vacuum isn't directional. Thus you have to have the end very close to what you're cleaning--if you have a static charge on it you might end up too close and a spark would jump.

Compressed air is directional, though. You'll be holding it much farther from what you're cleaning--there's no chance of a spark jumping to the target (although you could still zap something off to the side that you got too close to.)

Obviously you must beware of condensation when dealing with compressed air. If that were the slightest risk (as I live in the desert it rarely is) I would discharge some air in a harmless direction first.


In a vacuum cleaner, dust particles are drawn into the plastic tube and it is these particles that cause the build up of static elecrticity.

In the case of a compressed-air source, only clean air should be moving against the nozzle.

There is also a temptation to hold the nozzle close to the part being cleaned. A typical domestic vacuum cleaner is a relatively clumsy device. There may therefore be more likelihood of the charged nozzle contacting vulnerable devices.

  • You can disconnect the wand and just put a brush attachment on the end of the hose- so you get precise control. Also, if the end of the nozzle is in your hand, then how can static build up anyway? Any static is discharging straight to you. – Austin ''Danger'' Powers Jun 9 '13 at 13:42
  • @KimJong-Un - Just take our word for it. Don't use a vacuum. – Ramhound Jun 9 '13 at 15:26
  • 2
    The tooth fairy exists. Just take my word for it. – Austin ''Danger'' Powers Jun 9 '13 at 16:28

I don't know about computers - but I once had to sand back some plaster, creating large amounts of plaster dust, which I then cleared using a Dyson vacuum. The static build-up in the metal wand was so high, I received several shocks through my hands. Nothing serious (I carried on working... call me stupid!)

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