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Tip of the Week: 3 Tips to Cleaning a Computer that Anyone Can Do

When you invest in a new computing device, you should know that a little bit of tender loving care goes a long way toward prolonging its lifespan. Yet, cleaning your device can be a bit tricky, especially if you don’t want to risk permanent damage to its components. Thankfully, it’s not rocket science to clean up your PC, especially when you have this step-by-step guide.

First thing’s first; you’ll need a can of compressed air, as well as some lint-free wipes. For more heavy-duty cleaning, you’ll want to pick up a small screwdriver, cotton swabs, and isopropyl alcohol. It’s especially important that you make sure it’s isopropyl and NOT ethyl-based.

Cleaning the Desktop
Before we get started, you should be aware that there’s a chance you’ll be dealing with complex, electrical equipment. Therefore, be sure to power down your system before you get started. This means that you’re powering down the machine, turning off the surge protector, and unplugging all components from the outlet.

Take a static-free dust cloth and wipe the dust off of the case’s exterior. You can use the cans of compressed air to blow dust away from any external vents you see. Go in with cotton swabs to soften the dust up and use the compressed air to get rid of the rest.

When you use the compressed air, be sure not that you don’t blow air on the components for too long. Some of the more sensitive parts of a computer won’t appreciate the pressure. In general, you should be careful when dealing with your electronics, as you might be in for a shock when you come into contact with wires. Be sure to frequently touch metal and plastic frameworks so as to keep your body equalized–this helps you avoid static shocks. Once you’ve finished cleaning the innards, close the case back up and go over it once more with a cloth.

Clean Your Screen
Some people like to use their fingers to point to objects on their screen. While this is helpful for identifying things, it’s bad for your monitor, as this inevitably leads to fingerprints and smudges on the screen. Cleaning your screen isn’t much more complicated than wiping down your home’s windows, but there are still some specifications to account for.

If you’re using an LCD display, start by mixing together a half-and-half solution of distilled water and white vinegar. Use this mixture and a microfiber cloth to wipe down the screen. You’ll be surprised by how well this works to get rid of dust.

On another note, never spray liquid on a device. Always use a damp cloth, as you’ll have better control over the liquid this way.

Key-ping the Keyboard and Mouse Clean
Out of your entire PC, the keyboard and the mouse will probably take the most abuse. Keyboards are often cited as carrying more bacteria than your average toilet seat, which is alarming, to say the least. Unplug the keyboard from the system and turn it upside-down. Then, gently shake your keyboard. This will let loose any crumbs or skin particles that were trapped under the keys. If you’d rather just use compressed air, that’s also an option. If you think you’re finished with the keyboard, think again–we’re just getting started.

If your keyboard uses a membrane style, you can remove the keys to get a thorough cleaning underneath. Just make sure that you have some sort of record of the keyboard’s layout. Otherwise, you might accidentally misplace keys, which could lead to all sorts of problems.

Removing the keys is as simple as placing a small flat-head screwdriver underneath each of them and gently prying them from their place in the keyboard. Just note that the larger keys, like the space bar, shift, and enter, can be difficult to put back on your keyboard, and are better just leaving in place. Use a combination of compressed air, cotton swabs, and isopropyl alcohol to clean up under the keys. Once you’ve finished, the keys snap back on easily enough, but you should still test them out to make sure they work.

As for your mouse, most of them use the common LED sensors on their bottoms. All you need to do is wipe them down with a cloth, and perhaps touch them up with a swab of rubbing alcohol.

The Importance of a Clean Workstation
If you want to ensure that your computer runs at optimal efficiency, you need to guarantee its physical cleanliness. Your equipment will run better, last longer, and be less likely to experience crippling hardware failures. Plus, you’ll be healthier by using equipment that’s not a cesspool for bacteria and germs.

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