I'm a little worried. I was using some compressed air cleaner (to be specific, Office Depot® Brand Cleaning Duster) to try to blow the dust off some dusty parts of my computer. The instructions are very explicit about not tilting it at an angle because this could cause the gases to be released in liquid form, but the parts I was trying to clean were at kind of an awkward angle, there was really no good way to get the can in at an upright angle, so some of the liquid did get on the stuff I was trying to clean, unfortunately. It evaporated almost immediately, though.

So now, what should I do? I've seen conflicting information online. Wikipedia says that the liquid form of the gases will act as a solvent, causing unwanted damage to surface coatings, so this is troubling to me, but I don't necessarily trust wikipedia as an accurate source. I have seen it said elsewhere that compressed (canned) air will do absolutely zero damage to your computer, even if you get the refrigerant (the stuff that blows out the nozzle when the can is sideways or upside-down) on your CPU/GPU/RAM/Motherboard.

So, what should I do now? I want to clean the peripherals and such that I used it on off now in the best way possible, to prevent or mitigate any further damage that may or may not have been done or will be done by the liquid. What would be the best method to use now? Just, cloth dampened with water? Isopropyl alcohol? Something else?


I've had that crap spray in my pc and I came back in the house with it 5 minutes later, turned it on, and no problem lol. I don't think it takes very long for that stuff to dry, an hour at the most probably (but I didn't wait -- I didn't think that much got in there to cause a problem) I wouldn't go trying any other liquids to clean it, I wouldn't even try anything. I think you're being super paranoid. You can wash a lot of electronics with water as long as you let them dry afterwords before turning them on.

  • Thank you @Codezilla! Well, out of the two answers, I guess yours was most useful to me in terms of what I wanted to know. Thanks also to Psycogeek, for your more detailed answer! :) – Josh Zmijewski Jul 23 '14 at 9:54

Yes the refrigerant can act as a solvent , but the "damage" that it will do as a solvent is mostly visual, like discoloring plastics. You can spray it all over electronic PCBs and components and it is unlikely to cause a direct problem from solvent. Note: I am not recommending doing that at all, I just have at times and it did not cause any problems from that, but from moisture.

Things that can happen, you could cool something so much that an uneven contraction/expansion thing exists. Possibly hitting a really hot silicon component with it could crack it. Just like pouring hot water on a cold glass can break it. It must not happen very often because it has been used at times to force cool things. It would probably be unwise to have the machine operating when using it. There could be other things, that would suffer due to one side of them contracting a lot in the cold.

Another thing that will happen, and would be a very large concideration, the cooling of things will condence moisture out of the air. The water on things would be worse than the refrigerant after it started reacting as electricity flowed through it, particals are suspended in the water and all.
You would just want to make sure that not only the refrigerant is vaporised, but that any water condenced on the cold parts is dry again before powering it up.

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