Any PC support technician will tell you that heat is the enemy. Heat stress is one of the most common causes of computer component failure, but it’s also one of the easiest to combat.

All parts of a computer function at their optimum within a specific temperature range. If they’re constantly running too hot, they’ll eventually begin to break down. That’s why it’s so important to give your computer a proper clean every now and again. It’s a quick and easy solution to a problem.

We know cleaning isn’t always fun, but in this case, it can save you time, and a whole lot of money. Now it sounds worth it, right?

You might feel tempted to take your PC to the local repair shop and pay them a princely sum to have it cleaned. But these kinds of businesses usually overcharge for a job you can do for free using a selection of common household items.

Don’t believe us?

Check out the most cost-effective methods of making your computer look like it’s brand new without spending a cent.

Prepare Your Computer

Before you clean your PC, you must turn it off. It cannot run while you’re working on it, even in hibernate or sleep mode. The last thing you want is for any of your cleaning agents to come into contact with live circuity. Not only can this cause permanent damage to the components you’re trying to clean, but it can also lead to a nasty shock. For your safety and your computer’s, flip the off switch first.

Make sure you properly shut down the computer, and that it’s unplugged from the wall socket completely. Many techies even recommend acquiring and wearing a special anti-static wrist guard. This guard has a special connector placed on part of the computer to ground you while you’re working.

Today’s computers aren’t quite that sensitive. It’s still a good idea to at least touch a part of the case made of metal to remove any static running through your body.

Once that’s done, you can gather the tools you need to remove the covers from the case. Most case panels are easy to remove with a star screwdriver. However, you may need a wider range of tools depending on your computer’s assembly. When choosing a cloth to use, it’s a good idea to always go for something made of microfiber. This will help pick up more dirt as you wipe everything down.

Soapy Water and a Cloth

It’s a commonly held belief that water should never go near anything electronic, and for good reason. Getting water on a live component can cause it to short circuit. It also creates the opportunity for electrocution. But that doesn’t mean that water can’t be used at all to clean the exterior of your computer.

Taking a bowl of warm water, mixing in some soap, and soaking a cloth in it. Then wring it out is a great way of cleaning away any grime and dust buildup on the case and fans. Take your time when doing this. Ensure that the cloth never goes too close to any of the circuitry. With enough patience, you’ll be able to make your PC look like you just bought it.

Sanitizer for the Rest

Over the last year of global lockdowns, most of us have built up a small stockpile of hand sanitizer. Not only is this sanitizer great for keeping you clean, but it’s also the perfect medium for cleaning the circuitry and more fragile parts of the computer.

Using a dry cloth lightly sprayed with at least a 70% sanitizer spray, wipe away all the dirt that’s accumulated over the motherboard, RAM, graphics card, storage drives, and power supply unit.

Once again, patience here is absolutely key. The sanitizer will dry quickly after it’s applied to all the areas that you’ve cleaned, and it should leave no marks behind. It’s a good idea to stick with sprays rather than gels, as these can leave behind residues that are difficult to get rid of.

Borrow an Air Compressor

If you have friends willing to lend you an air compressor, this makes for a quick and easy way of removing stubborn dust. Dust tends to be worse when lodged in the air vents and corners of the case. It can be almost impossible to clean all of it away with the previously mentioned methods. While most experts would recommend going out and buying cans of compressed air, there’s no real reason if you have access to an air compressor.

Don’t worry about the compressor damaging the PC’s components. As long as it isn’t too powerful, it will simply blow away the dust in the computer.

Minimize Future Build-Up

You don’t need to clean your computer too regularly, and there are some ways of cutting down on the amount of dust that builds up inside the case and round it.

Having proper ventilation is a good start, such as having fans running at the back of the case to draw out air from the front. This limits the amount of dirt that’s able to settle on the hardware. It’s often possible to find dust filters extremely cheaply, or even free. These filters fit in front of the fan to reduce how much dust pulls into the system when the fans are running.

To help keep your PC, keyboard and mouse, and printer like new, you also need to ensure the surrounding area stays clean too. If you have pets, avoid letting them sleep on or near your desk. The heat of your PC may attract them, but their fur can clog up and damage the insides of your computer and its accessories.

If your PC is particularly dirty and has been acting sluggish, cleaning it thoroughly will give it a significant boost in overall performance. When the components have access to flowing air and don’t have a blanket of dust on them, they’ll dissipate heat far more efficiently.

Remember to take it slow, make sure you’ve unplugged the computer, and avoid spilling liquid on any of the more sensitive parts.