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Windows 7: Best way to clean desktop from dust

20 Mar 2012   #1

Windows 7
Best way to clean desktop from dust

I need to know what I can use to make sure dust gets out/doesn't get into my computer. I've heard canned air, which I remember using for my old VCR few years ago, but I remember it didn't do so well which is why I'm cautious over using thata agin for my desktop.

P.S. after a while of usage upon turning it on, give or take 3-4 hours in, I think I'm hearing the fan sound in a unusually way, but not in a good way, more like an okay/cautious way. It'll build up, after a while it'll go down. Hard to explain.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Mar 2012   #2
mickey megabyte

ultimate 64 sp1

i use an old toothbrush myself.

works great for me, seriously. :)

vacuum cleaners are good as well, especially if you have an attachment that can get really in there. i used to have a mini USB vacuum cleaner, but i trod on it.

warning   Warning
just be careful.

you may have crud build-up on your fan blades - toothbrush them! (using toothpaste not advised! )

clean it when the computer is off.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Mar 2012   #3

Windows 7 Professional 64

This works way better than canned air, and it's a one time expense.
DataVac® Electric Duster® 500 | Metropolitan Vacuum Cleaner
My System SpecsSystem Spec

20 Mar 2012   #4

W7 Pro SP1 64bit

Moving air = some static electricity
Moving air + dust = even more static electricity
Is is enough static to do harm - that depends on how much air/dust that you are moving around and where the static builds.

Moving air/dust thru a plastic tube (vacuum cleaner) = lots more static electricity. This can be somewhat mitigated if the plastic has been infused with carbon in an attempt to make it conductive, but the user would need to remain grounded and in contact with that plastic/carbon for that to be of much benefit. I've seen some vacuum systems (slightly different that the one in the link in the previous post) that use metal attachments and the entire vac is grounded via the power cord.

With plastic attachments on a vacuum - one danger is that the tip of the attachment (which is nearest the computer parts) will become charged. You really don't want that tip to touch or come close enough to a part to arc.

With a well grounded metal attachment on a vacuum, you still run the risk that the tip will get too close to some computer part and become the discharge point for a static charge. Rapid discharge = danger for chips.

Some say that it is best to leave the desktop plugged in during this cleaning process. That might be best for the desktop - that might not be best for the human - since there is often power to the motherboard that the human can come into contact with. Others say to just ground the case w/o plugging it in (presumably so that any static charges will have a place to go and not continue to build and build and then arc/damage).

One problem with the "just ground the case" method is: the preferred method of getting rid of an static charge is to bleed it off slowly. The ESD control industry goes to great lengths to produce work surfaces that are not too conductive. And they make lots of test equipment to let one check that the surface is just right. Then some geeks come along and thwart that by providing a "good solid earth ground" to the case - thus allowing the most damage to occur should a static arc to (or from) a component happen. Sadly, that same "good solid earth ground" can prevent an arc due to static build up too... so what to do?

Some will argue that if the case is grounded and the vacuum is grounded - then where is the potential (pun intended) for disaster? In theory, the air/dust mixture swirling into the vacuum's attachment is a source of static. Is this a real danger? I cannot say for sure - I do not have an ESD safe vacuum to test.

What I do personally is probably not the safest thing for the computer - it is a compromise, a trade off of the risks involved. I don't ground the case (I probably should). I use very slow air, just fast enough air flow to get the job done. The air is from a garage shop style air compressor. I keep the nozzle about a foot away from any components - except for the power supply grills. I get closer to them.

It is probably better to ground the case (w/o plugging it in)... but that is rarely convenient given the location of our compressed air system. It is probably even better to ground the case using some resistor - but that is impractical for most people.

The air coming from the air hose that I use is also moving thru a plastic hose and the nozzle does not have any special stuff attached to get rid of a static charge. I've measured the results of my cleaning method using the tools that the company that I work for provides and I see almost no static build up.

Can components that are already mounted on a board withstand these levels of static that we are talking about? The typical answer that people give is something like: "I've been doing <insert method here> for years w/o any problems".

Since most chips can still function after being damaged by ESD; it is hard to say what the best method is... opinions vary. But I wouldn't toss the computer in the Rhine for a rinse.

This is already into the realm of TL;DR - but I have one more warning:
Do not use a "regular" vacuum to clean up printer toner.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Mar 2012   #5

Windows 7 HP / Ultimate x64

Hi there,

- Use a can of compressed air for hard-to-access places and chip level areas.
- Use a thin paintbrush to gently dust off smaller hardware components.
- If you have ventilation/fan slots on your PC Case, try installing some Filters for it. Fan slots require Mesh Fan Filters. Most new, mid range PC cases come with such filters.

Routine cleanup ensures that your case doesn't accumulate a lot of dust. Also keep the case far away from windows.

There are better options than using a vacuum cleaner!

Hope this helps.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Mar 2012   #6

Windows 7

I'm sorry I didn't think of this when I started this topic, but here is my desktop where you can see the "holes" on the side and back (bottom right)

Also, I don't know if this is right, but here's the "inside"
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Mar 2012   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

What would be great is to take the whole thing apart and manually clean everything, and definitely all fans. Yeah, I've heard bad things about using vacuums, never used them myself. Also you could buy some pretty fine pantyhose and cover any intake holes with some ingenuity. Not too much though, don't want to impede air flow.

Oh yeah, UsernameIssues, if you wrote that yourself, I'll be repping you, heh.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Best way to clean desktop from dust

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