Keeping Dust Out Of Computer & How to Clean It

Making your computer’s surrounding environment spotless is not a realistic solution for keeping dust out of a computer. Here’s how to avoid excessive maintenance and clean your computer correctly.

The airflow configuration setup you have in your computer’s case will determine the location of your intake filters. Please refer to our article on airflow optimization to find out more.

It is recommended that your computer case is elevated off the floor if possible. This will reduce the number of times you must clean your intake filters per year.

Tip: Keeping your computer dust free will contribute to sustained performance and reliability.

For example, a clean cooling assembly on components like the CPU, GPU, or motherboard parts means better cooling, leading to better performance and reliability and avoiding issues like thermal throttling.

Install Filters to Keep the Dust Out

How to keep PC dust free.

There are two types of air pressure systems. We will cover how to deal with both.

While it’s not recommended to have extremes of either type of setup, this article assumes that you have a gently biased cooling system, whether toward a positive or negative air pressure cooling setup.

Adding filters to a positive pressure cooling system

Positive air pressure cooling means that your intake fans are blowing in a greater volume of air per second than the amount being blown out.

This means the intake filters must only be installed before the intake fans.

If your case doesn’t have any built into the fan intake area, you can purchase fan filters specific to your fan type.

I recommend the screw mount filters over the magnetic type where possible.

Adding filters to a negative pressure cooling system

Negative air pressure cooling works the opposite way. The exhaust air is being blown out at a faster rate compared to the inlet fans.

With the negative air pressure cooling method, you must install intake filters before any intake fan, cooling holes, grills, or other openings.

You will find filter material and magnetic framed filters in stores. They are available in various sizes, so you should find ones close enough for most situations.

For this filtering method, consider low air resistance filters to ensure the air still draws in through the intended areas.

If your filters restrict airflow too much, the air will draw in through little gaps and holes elsewhere in your case instead.

Things to avoid with filters

Sometimes, you will see or hear about recommendations on using old stockings or rags as filters, but I’d like to advise against that.

Using the correct solution for a task is always better, but other finer technical details come into play when using something other than proper filters.

  • Cleaning these makeshift filters from time to time will be more difficult.
  • Can you ensure that the material has an acceptable amount of airflow resistance?
  • How quickly will the filter material become clogged with dust based on the size of the filtration holes?

How to clean a PC

Before starting, ensure your computer is fully powered off and all connectors are disconnected.

1. Remove all case lids and filters

Remove all lids from your case and all filters that can be easily removed.

2. Remove the graphics card and any other cards with a fan(s)

Unscrew the single screw that holds the card in place.

Depending on the case manufacturer, you might find a release clip or a knurled screw that you can undo with your fingers.

Be careful not to touch the edge connectors for the expansion slot.

3. Use compressed air to blow out all the dust

Tip: Before you begin, please consider using safety glasses and a filter mask. Also, do it outside.

Use an air compressor or a can of compressed air to blow any dust out of your computer.

Make sure that you blow every inch inside and out.

Pay particular attention to your CPU fan and heatsink.

Take a dry old toothbrush and brush over all the fans’ blades. Be careful not to put any excess pressure on the fan blades.

Give everything a final blowout to ensure any stray dust particles are gone.

Give the card slots the final blowout. You want these slots to be nice and clean before reinserting the cards you removed.

Follow my tutorial on cleaning your RAM contacts properly to keep your computer stable in its operation.

4. Clean the case lids and filters

Use your compressed air to clean the lids and filters. If you need extra cleaning, soak them in lukewarm water and use some hand soap on your hands to give them a light wash.

Afterward, give them a good rinse under the faucet using cold water.

Just make sure that the water isn’t hot. This could warp any plastic framing on your filter, and you will have difficulty fitting it again.

Leave them to dry, or dry them off faster using a hairdryer in a cool setting.

5. Clean the graphics card

Take the compressed air and blow out the fan area and any other vents or heatsink areas you can see.

Give the contacts of the edge connector the final blow to ensure that they remain dust-free.

If you accidentally touched these edge connectors (or if you think they need cleaning), complete the following steps:

  1. Take a high-quality pencil eraser and rub the contacts carefully until you can see a clean surface.
  2. Take some lint-free cloth and clean off all the eraser debris. You may need to shift to clean areas of the fabric a few times until you can feel no more eraser deposits.
  3. Give the connectors a blow with compressed air to ensure they are dust and lint-free.

Important: Please make sure you pay particular attention to step 2. You mustn’t have any eraser deposits left on the contacts.

The very same procedure can be applied to cleaning RAM. However, be very careful not to erase any small surface mount components.

6. Install the cards and filters, and case lids back in place

Now that these parts are nice and clean, reinstall the graphics card, filters, and case lids.

If you have made it this far, congratulations, your computer is now clean!

This depends on how well your case is filtered and how much dust is around. However, you don’t want to wait longer than a year, ideally every six to eight months.

If your computer gets badly clogged up with dust in vital areas that cause overheating, damage can occur from long-term overheating. In addition, when the dust is combined with dampness, corrosion is possible, thus causing damage.