Here’s a fun fact: In most people’s homes, the computer equipment gets exponentially more dirty than the toilet. The good news is that most computer equipment cleans easily, and doing so will increase the productive life of each of its components. The bad news is that nobody ever really thinks about cleaning their computer equipment. Even when the kids start typing away, too. So let’s take a look at the overall system and how to clean it piece by piece…
First, shut down the laptop. Different laptops have different cleaning requirements and since they can be difficult to get inside, the first, best line of defense is to keep your work environment free of dust and debris. The outside chassis can be cleaned with a soft cloth dabbed with isopropyl alcohol. Get between the keys on the keyboard first with a can of compressed air, then with a cotton swab dabbed (not soaked) with the same alcohol.
Cleaning the screen should be done according to factory specification, using a solvent approved for the screen on your laptop. If you are unsure, contact the manufacturer. They should understand why it’s an important question. The wrong solvent can certainly damage the screen.
Keyboard and Mouse
Repeat the same steps for cleaning your laptop keyboard. If dirt and grime have built up on the keys, scrub them individually with a cotton swab dabbed with all purpose cleaner or ammonia. Make sure none of the cleaner seeps inside the keyboard. The swab should be damp, not wet.
If your mouse has an old-fashioned track ball, open the compartment and remove the ball. Clean out the inside of the compartment with a dry cotton swab, making sure to grab any built-up dust. Replace the ball and close the compartment. For optical mouse devices, make sure the optical “eye” on the bottom is clean. Clean the whole outside of the mouse the same way you did the keyboard.
Tower and Monitor
Before cleaning the tower or monitor, unplug them. You monitor should be cleaned using the same care afforded your laptop. Do not use ordinary glass cleaner unless it is approved by the manufacturer. Use a vacuum to clean dust from the air vents, if applicable. Check any connectors for dust and clean with a dry cotton swab.
Before cleaning the inside of your tower, be sure that opening the case will not void your warranty. If not, open it according to the manufacturer’s instructions and remove dust from the inside using compressed air and a dry cloth. Be careful vacuuming inside the tower. In most cases it won’t be necessary. It is also recommended that an ESD Wrist Strap be used while working inside the case. They are usually two to five dollars at any computer supply store and will ensure against static discharge that can damage internal computer parts.
The outside of your tower can be cleaned just like the keyboard and mouse, using either alcohol, all-purpose cleaner or ammonia.
Printers can be easily cleaned with the use of compressed air. Never use liquid cleaner on printer components, except for the outside. Clean the outside like any other component described above and remove accumulated dust with a dry cloth.