Semi-Annual Computer Preventive Maintenance
Module 5 - Clean Interior of Computer Case

clean interior of computerI always tell my customers that if you want your computer to last, to keep it clean, keep it cool, and feed it clean power. The rest is software security, but that’s another issue.

Whether it’s a desktop or a laptop computer, dust and lint can clog your computer’s cooling vents and fans. This can cause electronic components such as your CPU to heat up which can cause freezing, blue screens, and can even prevent the computer from booting up until it cools down.

Heat is one if the biggest causes of component failure in computers, so regular cleaning could save you costly maintenance fees down the road. Anyway, keeping your computer clean contributes to keeping it cool, but it also gives you a chance for the early detection of other problems that you might have otherwise missed.


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Follow the simple steps in the cleanup and maintenance routine below to keep your computer and accessories running clean and cool.


Although many companies have created special purpose products for cleaning computers and peripherals, you can also use some common household items as a substitute. Below is a list of items you may need or want to use while cleaning your computer or computer peripherals. You can also find a more complete list in Tools and Materials.

  • Can of Compressed Air (available from computer dealers, office supply and big-box stores or a DataVac Electric Blower)
  • Safety Glasses or Goggles (optional as-needed)
  • Dust Mask (optional as-needed)
  • Soft Cloth
  • Water, Rubbing Alcohol or Spray Detergent: Be careful with solvents, as they may be bad for the plastics.
  • Portable Vacuum:  Sucking the dust, dirt, hair, cigarette particles, and other debris particles out of the computer. Be cautious about using standard vacuums as they can generate a lot of static electricity that can damage your computer.
  • Cotton Swabs: Swaps moistened with rubbing alcohol or water are excellent for cleaning hard to reach areas in your computer such as connectors and other recessed areas.


  • Always turn off your computer and disconnect the power plug before cleaning your computer.
  • Use caution when using cleaning solvents. They can be harmful to your skin or health, and may damage the case. Try to use water, spray detergent, or rubbing alcohol diluted with water.
  • Be careful not to accidentally disturb any knobs or controls during cleaning.
  • Take a picture of your connectors before you disconnect them to ensure you have no problems when reconnecting them.

Cleaning Frequency

How often you clean your computer varies with the environment such as where you place your computer, carpeting, whether you have pets or smoke, and if you eat or drink near the computer.

Cleaning Inside the Case

If you see dust or lint accumulating around the vents of your desktop or laptop, it is probably worse inside the computer. You should perform a visual inspection to see how dirty the interior is. If it needs any cleaning at all, just follow the procedures outlined in the video above. I would also heed the precautions listed below for best results.

  • Never spray or squirt any liquid directly onto any computer component. If a spray is needed, spray the liquid on a soft cloth first, and then use the cloth for wiping the external surfaces.
  • Use a brush and a can of compressed air to blow away any dust from the vents and connectors. If the vents are very dirty and you are blowing into the computer, you may want to remove the side panel and also blow out the interior of the computer. You can also use a brush and vacuum cleaner as well. Its relatively safe to use a standard vacuum when cleaning the outside of a computer, but you should use a low-static model when cleaning the interior.
  • Run a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol around all of the openings on the outside of your computer case. Give them one swipe with the damp end of the swab and one swipe with the dry end.

Cleaning Outside the Case

Keeping your computer looking new usually makes you take better overall care of your computer. Aside from cleaning the inside of the computer, your should pay attention to the cleanliness of the outside of the computer, particularly, the intake and exhaust vents. This is already covered at

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