How to clean your computer – a dust-free gaming PC with fast software

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Learning how to clean your computer is important, and it could help keep your gaming PC from gathering dust and speed things up. Picking the right PC case and making sure to manage the cables in your rig helps, but you’ll still have to roll up your sleeves and scrub its innards from time to time. Implementing a good PC hygiene policy will ensure that your machine looks the part, but it will also help increase fps and maintain peak performance while running the latest Steam games.

If you have researched how to clean your computer, you probably know it’s not like tidying up your room. Removing physical dust, dirt, and grime from your gaming PC requires special attention, especially if your rig is powered by the best graphics card. While cleaning your machine may seem daunting and tedious, it’s also a rewarding process that should help your parts last longer – a huge benefit considering the costs in the face of continued component shortages.

To help you thoroughly clean your machine, we’ve put together a handy guide on how to clean your computer, including the tools and steps needed to tweak your PC. We’ll even give you some tips on how to clean your hard drive and SSD, because digital dirt can be just as problematic as the grime inside your case.

Here’s how to clean your computer.

Tools to clean your computer

Before embarking on an electronic dust-proofing escapade, it’s a good idea to equip yourself with the tools you need to clean your computer beforehand. Not only will this help ensure you have the right weapons to wage war on the grimy inside of your gaming PC, but it means you won’t have to improvise – something that could pose a risk to your machine.

Here’s what you’ll need to clean your PC:

  • Pressurized air
  • Q-tips (cotton swabs)
  • Isopropylic alcohol
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Mask

If you plan to dust off your PC inside the house, you’ll want to lay down some old sheets. You may be surprised at how much dust and dirt inhabits your machine, as there are plenty of nooks and crannies that dust bunnies can hide in.

Using compressed air will help you blast hard-packed grime from its hiding place, with cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol serving as a medium for cleaning delicate parts, like your expensive gaming motherboard.

how to clean computer: inside gaming pc with intel fan, motherboard and graphics card bottom

Cleaning the inside of your computer

When it comes to cleaning your PC, you’ll want to start from the inside, as the dirt inside could find its way to the outside of your case during the process. This way you won’t be wasting your efforts by dirtying the outside of your rig.

Here’s how to clean the inside of your gaming PC case:

  • Put on a face mask
  • Shut down your PC and unplug all cables
  • Move your PC to a flat and airy place
  • Remove your PC case side panels and fan filters
  • Use short bursts of compressed air to remove dust from filters
  • Wipe remaining debris from the filters using a microfiber cloth
  • Repeat the same steps for the interior walls and floor of your PC case

To deal with a rig with years of dust accumulation, you will need to remove your components from your case. It’s essentially the reverse of building a gaming PC, meaning you need to take similar precautions when handling your expensive parts.

You’ll also want to do this on a large, flat surface, but be sure to put something down to prevent your gaming desk from getting cosmetic injuries. Once you’ve removed your parts from your rig, you can start making them look shiny and new again.

Here’s how to clean your motherboard and PC parts:

  • Using short bursts of compressed air, blow large clumps of dust off your motherboard and graphics card
  • Dip a cotton swab in isopropyl alcohol and gently clean the surface of your motherboard and other delicate areas
  • To clean your fans, hold them steady and use compressed air to blow out lodged dust
  • Wipe your PC cables with a microfiber cloth

It’s worth noting that while the power supply can collect dust inside its case, you’ll need to think twice before opening one. Not only will this potentially void your warranty, but tinkering inside high-voltage parts is potentially dangerous. We just suggest using compressed air to clean your PSU without opening it, as you’d be surprised how far you can go without opening its shell.

Once you’re happy with your cleaning efforts, you’ll want to reassemble your rig and put your side panels and fan filters back in place. If you’re a perfectionist, you might want to use a flashlight to inspect your work and spot any spots you’ve missed. However, it’s impossible to completely eradicate dust forever, so it’s best to make peace with the fact that you’ll be eradicating all of this again in the future.

how to clean computer: Corsair PC case on blue background

Clean the outside of your computer

Cleaning the exterior of your rig isn’t as complicated as the interior, but finishing touches can help your gaming PC shine. Keeping your computer case in pristine condition also helps keep dust out of your case, which could make the whole process easier next time.

Here’s how to clean your computer case:

  • Use short bursts of compressed air to blow dust from ridges and crevices
  • Scrub your PC with a microfiber cloth, including the side panels removed
  • If your case has a glass panel, spray a small amount of glass cleaner on a microfiber cloth and wipe in circular motions

If you are into the idea of ​​detailing the best PC case like a car, there are a few additional optional steps you can take. While we don’t recommend using heavy-duty cleaners or solvents, adding a little spray of furniture polish to your microfiber cloth can visually rejuvenate your deck and help prevent dust buildup.

How to clean computer: Generic hard drive with flickering emoji on the right

How to clean your hard drive

Now that you’ve refreshed your PC, it’s time to consider cleaning up its digital space. Taking the time to clean your hard drive or SSD makes all the difference, especially if you want everything to run smoothly. Fortunately, sanitizing your digital space doesn’t require a lot of elbow grease, and most of the tools you’ll need are built into operating systems like Windows 11.

To get started, let’s remove potentially unwanted files and programs from your PC. If you’re using a pre-built machine, you might find that it’s already cluttered with software you don’t need. With that in mind, here’s how to uninstall programs on Windows 10 and beyond.

  • Navigate to “Storage Settings” using the search tool on the Windows taskbar
  • At the top of the page, click “Apps and features”
  • Click on the “sort by” filter at the top and select “installation date”
  • Go through your apps list and remove any programs you no longer need

Windows Storage Management can also help you identify unnecessary files, folders, and apps, helping you quickly free up space. This can be useful if you’re using one of the best, smaller SSDs for gaming options, as it means you won’t have to do much to get new Steam games onto your drive.

How to clean your computer: Windows Defender logo with pink background Windows 11

Moreover, you can also ward off nasty digital germs by using Windows built-in security. If you’re not using a third-party security suite like McAfee or Norton, “Virus & Threat Protection” should already be enabled.

Here’s how to enable Windows 11 security:

  • Using Windows Search, navigate to the Windows Security app
  • On the “virus & threat protection” page, select “manage settings”
  • You will be presented with various services including real-time protection
  • Make sure each function is enabled using the green toggles

Windows 11 will now keep an eye out for files and malware, and it will regularly scan your drive to check for digital dirt.

What can I use to clean my computer?

It may seem obvious, but you’ll also need to be careful if you’re using water-based cleaning solutions. You can use soap and water to clean particularly dirty PC cases when you’ve removed components, but you’ll need to make sure everything is dry before reassembling it. Of course, you’ll want to clean the electrical components with something like 99% isopropyl alcohol rather than a household cleaner, as this will help keep residual moisture and chemicals from damaging your parts.

How to clean computer: Henry vacuum cleaner without sign on blue background

Can I vacuum my computer?

Cleaning up your PC might seem simple enough, but there are a few things you should avoid when trying to clean up your computer. As tempting as it may be, don’t use your vacuum cleaner, as using it could generate static electricity and damage your parts. To remove layers of dust and compacted dirt, it is best to use a can of compressed air or an electric duster designed for cleaning computers.

How often should I clean my PC?

You should clean your PC regularly, but the frequency depends on various factors. If you have pets or use your computer in a dusty environment, your computer will eventually accumulate more dirt than usual. Naturally, vacuuming and polishing the floors and surfaces of your room will remove dust particles before they reach your deck. Beyond that, you’ll want to take a look inside your build every couple of months and clean things up a bit.

How to keep dust out of your computer

Dust is one of life’s household pains, and it can be difficult to keep it away from your gaming PC. Using the best PC fans is a good way to discourage dust buildup, as the creating positive pressure in your case helps flush out debris. If your cooling setup creates negative pressure, it could absorb more air and foreign matter – a trade-off that is often made to reduce CPU and GPU temperatures by a few degrees.


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