Why should I bother to clean my PC you ask? (Look at all 11 pages,they get worse as you go.) Filthy PCs: The X-rated circus of horrors ? The Register When you get back from heaving (the day after Thanksgiving is probably a bad time to see the above) here are some quick tips to avoid PC neglect failures. Tools: Depnding on how gross your PC is, not all tools are required. 1) Screw driver to open case. 2) Canned Air (Warning this is not air, ir is nasty, use in garage or out doors only.) 2a) Alternates Shop vac running in blower mode. (with clean dry filter and canister!) Vacuum cleaner adjustable suction, with: 3 inch bristle attachment, crevice tool and soft bristle 1 inch paint brush (dry use) 3) Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol) Methyl alcohol is better but can cause blindness and other health issues even when only inhaled. Using ethanol for cleaning is a crime against humanity. 4) Soft, natural bristle 1 inch paint brush (wet use) 5) Soft cotton cloth - old t-shirt or sports bra. Procedure: 0) UNPLUG ALL of the PC EXTERNAL CABLES - Power supply, NIC, KVM,Video, etc. Power can come in from any or all of these. 1) Remove external covers, side (both), back, front, top. Warning - With the air source in one hand grab the PC case with the other hadn to discharge any static on the vacuum, shop vac, etc. The air flow can build up static in dry conditions. 2) Carefull vacuum out large wads of dust keeping away from jumpers and wires that the vacuum could eat. 3) Remove any dust filters and vacuum them off. 4) GENTLY blow dust out of case, off MB, RAM, Video Card, fans. (Brush if no blower available.) The objective is to blow the dust away not to pack it into fins and under IC's or rip wires and parts lose. Blow through heatsink fins from the side, not the top to avoid packing dirt. If dust sticks to case, fins, etc. it has gotten wet with: condensation, tar (from smoking) chemicals in the air (air fresheners, shop materials, etc) Cleaning is much harder with wet dust which is somewhere between mud and cement for consistentcy. See Phase II Instructions or leave it to a "professional". 5) Next clean out the PSU. This is a fun and effective way, perform outdoors or in garage. Aim canned air or other pressue blower into the PS vents one at a time including the fan openings. Move the direction and angle of the air stream around as you blow. Give a couple of shots into each orifice. The dust will be loosened and the fans will spin up driving clouds of dust out of the PSU. Be careful to not spin up the fans too much (if they make a loud howling noise they could be damaged). This is really impressive and can produce large clouds of dust even in what appears to be a clean PC. 6) Keyboard and mouse - Turn keyboard over above a white surface and gently shake and tap the sides. The white surface is so you can see what you have been touching... This encourages more frequent cleaning. Blow out key area from all sides with a light air flow almost parallel to the keyboard surface. Blow from all four directions to work loose and hangers on. Next dampen (not wet, damp) the cloth with alcohol and wipe off the surfaces. Key surfaces require repeated wiping since they get really nasty from food, etc. Also, the pads on the mouse bottoms get "stuff" build up. If the keyboard has been baptised with coffee, pop, etc. Get a thin flat tool (credit card, ID badge, kitchen plastic spatula) Fold wet area of cloth over the edge and wipe between the keys. This should be done at the time of the spill with dry clothe to be most effective. It can be done later with alcohol, but is less effective. Go to Phase II for challenged PCs: Phase II - for really nasty issues (see link) Requires gentle scrubbing of the afflicted areas. Wet the soft bristle brush with alcohol to loosen gunk. DO NOT let the gunk sit, flow under parts or into connectors!!! Remove softened residue immediately, as you brush is best. Remove gunk with shop vac (do not suck up glued on heatsinks, etc.) Hold the shop vac well away from the parts being cleaned to reduce suction. Narrow, finned heatsinks may need to be removed and soaked in a container filled with alcohol. Soaking may take hours and have to be repeated. Agitation (fish tank aereator) or an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner are effective. Don't let or force alcohol under IC's or to connectors with air or brush. It gets trapped and will take a long time to evaporate. Any residue that gets tehre can cause failures. Keyboards can be disassembled and the contacts and keys cleaned with alcohol after really sticky spills. This works for remote controls also. My success rates have been varied. It depends on the keyboard and may not be worth the effort of cleaning it. Do's: The more often you dust the less time required. I spend maybe 5 minutes per Home PC 2-3 times a year. Under industrial conditions (vs home of office) more frequent cleaning is required. Dust free PCs will not get gunky from moisture of chemicals in the air. Dust free PCs will be less viable as insect and germ incubators. Don'ts: In spite of Tobacco Industry claims smoking is bad for your PC's heath (see link). If you are too addicted to quit :smoker:, remember your PC is not a smokeless ashtray! Exhale away from the PC, place ashtray away from the PC air intakes, etc Phase II type cleanings are more likely to be needed. Air fresheners especially candles and hot oil types. (i.e. toxic, sticky, chemical dispensers) Same deal as with smoking. The oils, propellents, dispersal agents and persistence agents end up somewhere. Those not captured in your lungs will get sucked through the PC heatsinks and fans. Spills - clean immediately. Invert keyboard and shake out excess, tapping side to break surface adhesion. Run cotton cloth between keys with card or badge Paper towels work but can leave lint worsening the problem unless you are bery careful. Parting thought: Black keyboards are harder to read so why are most keyboards and mice black now? You can't see the black, sticky, germ and mold infested goo on public keyboards if the keyboard is black. One less employee or customer complaint for the boss to worry about.