In the past several months I’ve written some columns dealing with removal of various malwares from your PCs, but I also I get questions about how to physically clean the hardware parts of a PC system, especially the monitor. So this week’s column addresses the physical cleaning of your PC.
Let’s start with the screen of your monitor, since it may need frequent cleaning. Any monitor surface is easier to clean when it’s off, so that you can readily spot smudges and fingerprints. Back in the old days of CRT monitors, the screens were glass and you could clean them as you did any glass surface. Flat screen monitors are a different story since the surfaces are more sensitive and can be damaged by vigorous rubbing. You can’t just spray them with Windex and wipe off with any old rag.
Flat screens and laptops usually have LCD screens and can be cleaned either with a microfiber rag (like an eye glass cleaner) or a clean (no lint) cotton cloth like a well worn tee shirt. You can usually remove finger prints with just a dry cloth and soft rubbing. If the smudges are more persistent, dampen the cloth with plain water (distilled is best) or a mix of water and white vinegar, about 50-50. You can also buy a screen cleaner from any of the office supply places; but vinegar water works about as well. Never spray the cleaner directly onto your screen surface, instead dampen the cloth and apply with soft strokes. You can damage LCD screens by pressing too hard on them.
[amazon-product]B000BSJCLY[/amazon-product]You can clean the outside of your PC case with the dust brush of your vacuum cleaner and the inside of the case can be rough cleaned with the same attachment. Just don’t brush too hard when you vacuum inside. Once you have done a cursory clean of the PC inside with your vacuum; finish it up by blowing the stubborn dust off with compressed air. I prefer to do this step outside; you will not believe how much dust accumulates inside a PC . Hold the PC case away from yourself and point the air nozzle directly at any dust pockets. I have found dust bunnies, spider webs and mouse droppings inside a PC case, none of which can be good for performance. Be sure and blow off any heat sinks that you find (they are made of an aluminum alloy and look like a set of spikes sticking straight up). Heat sinks keep things like your CPU from overheating. While you are outside, blow out all the external ports which also attract dust.
Lastly, take your keyboard outside and blow out all the accumulated dust between the keys with compressed air. Take it back inside and wipe off any smudges with a dampened cloth.
For most users once a year is good for your PC’s internals and you can judge by appearance how often to clean your keyboard and monitor. A clean PC is a happy PC and a better performing one.