Whether you’re using a laptop for streaming or gaming or using a monitor at your work desk, these devices can start to attract dust, dirt and grime over time. Cleaning your computer is just as important as keeping your computer software up-to-date and virus-free. Not only can the buildup of dust and dirt be visually unappealing, it can potentially damage parts of the computer, such as the fan, which prevents the computer from overheating.

If you’re not diligent about keeping your computer hardware clean, you may end up having to replace your laptop or monitor altogether, which isn’t cheap. These tips on cleaning your computer can help ensure you take proper care of the hardware and to keep it running efficiently.

A person uses a microfiber cloth to clean their computer.

Things you’ll need for cleaning your computer

Before getting into the cleaning techniques of certain computer hardware, it’s important to know what type of things you’ll need to clean with. Gather these items:

  • Two microfiber cloths or a soft, lint-free cloth. You’ll need one damp cloth to wipe down the hardware and one cloth to dry.
  • Cotton swabs, such as Q-Tips. These will help you get into crevasses and other hard-to-reach areas.
  • Compressed air can. To use for removing any particles, especially between keys. Make sure the compressed air can is safe to use on computers and related devices.
  • Filtered or distilled water. No special store-bought cleaning solution is needed.
  • Equal parts mixture of water and vinegar. This can be used for extra sanitation power.

Person cleans a laptop screen with a microfiber cloth.

Steps on cleaning a computer monitor and screen

Before the cleaning process can begin, you should unplug and power off your computer, as well as any other connected devices. This step is extremely important, as you could damage the device or hurt yourself if electrical currents are still running. Once you unplug and power down, you’re ready to begin.

  1. Wipe off dust with a dry lint-free or microfiber cloth.
  2. Go from corner to corner of the monitor to make sure you get all the dust off.
  3. Spray or lightly dab the solution directly onto a dry cloth and carefully wipe the screen.
  4. Wipe down the screen, going in circles, as this helps avoid leaving streaks.
  5. Let the monitor air-dry completely before turning it back on.

Steps on cleaning your mouse or touchpad

No matter if you’re using an external or optical mouse, a thorough cleaning can help prevent the dreaded sticky mouse. Here are instructions on how to clean a mouse:

  1. Unplug the mouse from the computer. If you’re cleaning a laptop’s built-in mouse (touchpad), then make sure the laptop is turned off and unplugged.
  2. Use the compressed air can to blow off any dust or debris.
  3. Wipe down the mouse or touchpad with a dry cloth.
  4. Use a dampened cloth to gently clean the mouse or touchpad, as well as any cords or cables attached to a mouse. You may need to use a bit of force when scrubbing if there’s a considerable amount of dirt or grime build-up.
  5. Let the mouse and touchpad air-dry completely before powering anything back on.

A person uses a q-tip to clean between the keys of a laptop keyword.

Steps on cleaning a keyboard

If you find yourself snacking while working or gaming on your computer, then your keyboard may have collected crumbs or dust particles. Even if you don’t eat around your computer, there still may be stuff that’s trapped between the keys. Here’s how to clean your keyboard:

  1. Use the compressed air can to remove any dirt particles or crumbs. Take your time moving between the keys so that you don’t miss a spot.
  2. Take a dry cloth and gently wipe down the keys. Be careful not to press too firmly on the keys, as this may damage them.
  3. Use a dampened cloth with filtered water or a cleaning solution to wipe down the keyboard.
  4. Clean each key individually, scrubbing with a bit of force to get all grime off.
  5. Let the keyboard air-dry before powering back on the laptop or portable keyboard.

Once you’ve finished cleaning the computer, make sure all pieces are dry before powering anything back on. As not all computers and their parts are made the same, you’ll want to clean with caution. Continue to take care of your computer screen or monitor, mouse and keyboard by performing a regular cleaning.

Since computers are such an integral piece of technology in our lives, taking care of these devices can ensure they have a healthy lifespan. Other ways you can take care of your computer are freeing up storage space on your hard drive or cleaning up your desktop from old files and programs. Discover more tips, how-to’s and guides on life with technology from CenturyLink.

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