Many of us have a PC or laptop in our lives, or even several of them. Unfortunately, the fans in laptops and PCs run like tiny vacuum cleaners, drawing dust in from the air onto the components inside. If left too long the dust can cause your computer to overheat or even stop working altogether.
My husband is a bit of a geek (well a big one actually) and he often has broken computers sent to him for fixing. A very common ailment he finds is dust. He can often fix a PC in no time at all with just a bit of vacuuming.
As a side note, I found during my research that vacuums shouldn’t be used on computers due to the danger of static build-up. A can of compressed air is much safer.
I guess my husband is just very careful because he has never damaged a computer by using a vacuum cleaner.
So here is my non-geek guide for keeping dust out of your computer or laptop, so you don’t have to fork out for an engineer to fix it or even for a new computer.
You can’t stop dust from entering your computer but you can reduce dust by putting it on your desk instead of the floor, keeping the room clean and positioning it away from drafty areas like doors and windows.
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How to keep dust out of your computer
It’s near on impossible to stop dust from getting inside your computer, but there are several steps you can take to reduce the amount of dust and thus reduce the frequency of cleaning required.
Here are my recommendations for keeping dust out of your PC:
1. Keep your PC off the floor
If you can avoid it don’t have your PC sitting on the floor because the lower down it is, the more susceptible it will be to sucking in dirt from the floor, including dust, pet hair and general debris.
The best place for your computer is up on the desk. If you can’t do this have it at least six inches above the floor.
2. Keep your room clean
Keep your home office room as clean as you can.
Here is my advice for keeping dust out of your home office:
- Keep the floor vacuumed.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter so that dust doesn’t recirculate into the room as you dust it. I recommend the Miele Cat and Dog vacuum.
- Keep pets out of your office room.
- Get an air filter with a HEPA filter so that dust particles are removed from the air before they reach your desk area.
I have this air filter by Winix and I am very pleased with it. It has a HEPA filter and runs very quietly I can hardly hear it.
3. Position your computer and desk away from doors and windows
The ideal position for your desk and computer is away from drafts that arise around doors and windows and bring dirt and dust along with it.
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How to know your PC or laptop needs dusting
If your computer is making more noise than it usually does it is very probably because the fan is constantly running trying to cool the processor down. Your computer may even stop working or refuses to switch on.
Your best option is to dust it inside, or at least inspect it internally for dust buildup.
How to clean dust from a computer
We can put our PCs in the perfect position, keep the room clean and filter the air, but dust will inevitably build up inside your PC or laptop.
The good news is that it isn’t difficult to remove the dust.
Things you will need for cleaning dust from your computer:
- A can of compressed air
- Phillips screwdriver
- Mask (optional)
Pro tip: Clean your PC outside or somewhere you don’t mind getting dusty. If you have dust allergies wear a mask.
Steps to clean the dust from your computer:
- Unplug cables. If you think you might forget where everything goes, take a quick photo with your phone before you unplug everything.
- Remove the side panel. Use your screwdriver to remove the screws on the side panel. On laptops remove the back panel.
- Blow out the dust inside. Use your can of compressed air to blow out the dust. Be careful not to touch any internal part with the can or blow too close to internal cables in case you dislodge them.
- Clean the fans. For PCs, take a long stick and push it through the fan to stop it from turning as you blow air through it.
- Clean the cover. Before you put the cover back blow off the dust.
- Replace the cover and reconnect the cables. If you took a picture take out your phone to remind yourself where everything went.
Here’s a useful video I found:
How to make a DIY dust filter for your PC
You can buy magnetic PC dust filters, but if you don’t want to do that or can’t find the right size why not try making your own?
You will need some nylon stockings. Simply cut some to the size of the air intake and place it over the fan with some tape.
When your homemade PC dust filter gets clogged up simply remove and clean off the dust.
How to prevent your laptop from getting dusty
You can’t usually prevent dust from entering your laptop because the fan has to run to keep the CPU from heating up. Along with the air, you have dust being drawn into the laptop.
Like PCs, laptops can usually be opened up and cleaned from the inside. If your laptop can be opened up you will need a screwdriver to remove the back cover. When you have the cover removed, take a can of compressed air to blow out the dust.
How to keep dust off a computer screen
Regular dusting with a microfiber screen cleaning cloth is all you need to do to keep dust off your computer screen. Microfiber cloths have an electrostatic charge which attracts dust and will protect your monitor from gathering dust in future.
Frequently asked questions
Can you get a dust-proof PC case?
It’s impossible to avoid all dust entering the PC but it is possible to reduce it with a dust filter.
Lots of new PCs with modern cases have dust filters in them. If you are in the market for a new PC, check the spec to see if it includes one.
Another option is to buy a filter that fixes over the fan. This filter is magnetized for easy installation. When it starts to clog up with dust simply remove and wash.
Can dust destroy a PC?
Dust has the potential to damage the working components of the PC. If you don’t dust it inside for a long time overheating will happen which could cause long-term damage.
Can dust prevent a computer from turning on?
If your PC is very clogged up with dust and hasn’t been cleaned out for years it is feasible that the processor has overheated and cannot start until can cool down.
If you think that your PC won’t turn on due to dust, take off the cover and blow out the dust with a can of compressed air. Then try turning the PC back on. You can’t damage a PC by blowing away the dust, but at least you can then rule out dust as a cause of the breakdown.
Should I clean the dust out of my computer?
Yes, keeping dust out of your computer is important. If dust builds up inside it can cause the computer to overheat.
How often should I dust my PC?
In general, you should dust the inside of your PC every six to eight months.
Various factors can affect how often you need to dust your PC. If your PC lives in a particularly dusty spot such as resting on the floor or near a draft then you will need to clean it more frequently.