How to Clean Your Computer - dummies

By Gill Chilton

Before you start to clean your computer, switch it off at the plug! Simply not turning it on isn’t enough: Your machine is still on standby, which means active electrical circuits.

For everyday cleaning, you may want simply to potter about with a dry cloth. You can get most grime off the housing using a cloth that’s been lightly moistened with a mild detergent solution. Avoid any cleaners containing ammonia. Wipe dry.

Clean the monitor with a soft, dry cloth or use a specialised wipe for computer screens. If the screen is all you want to clean, it’s fine simply to switch off the monitor and leave the computer plugged in.

The latest flat-screens monitors are more delicate than traditional glass monitors so take care when you touch them. If you’re too heavy-handed, you may rip the soft-touch surface. When you’re working and spot a smear, resist the temptation to give the screen a quick wipe with a tissue from the box sitting on the desk. Tissues may feel soft to your skin, but to a monitor screen, they’re scratchy.

When the outer case of the computer starts looking a bit grimy, chances are that there is just as much dust inside. So every year, to do the full job, you have to peep about in the disk drives and unscrew the keyboard to dislodge the remains of a fair few of those desk-bound snacks.

Get a cleaning kit for the CD-ROM and floppy disk drives from a computer shop and follow the instructions.

To clean a moderately dirty keyboard, turn it over and give it a shake out! If you’ve been eating near the keyboard, a gentle vacuum can help to suction up all those biscuit crumbs.

When the keyboard is really bad, reach for the screwdriver – but unplug your computer before you turn over the keyboard and undo the screws holding it together. Taking computers apart usually invalidates the warranty, so do this at your own risk.

Most models unscrew to give you good cleaning access to the board. Where you can, use a microfibre cloth to get in between the keys and blow compressed air where you can’t.

Go ten times as fast at keyboard cleaning without opening up the machine. Pop on soft cotton gloves and just touch your gloved fingers to a soapy sponge. Make circular movements with your finger on the keys.

Remember that you only want to clean the key tops. You mustn’t have enough water on your fingers that they drip. (It’s never a good idea to have liquids near your computer, especially your keyboard. One little spill can cost you a whole new keyboard!) Cover the whole keyboard this way, in fewer steps than 108 key-cleans.

The first component to get dust seizure on a computer is the humble mouse, but getting it back to work is a 30-second job. All you do is rotate the disc at the bottom of the mouse, tip out the ball and roll it between clean hands to remove the dirt. Inside the hole that the ball came from are three small rollers that should be smooth and free from gunk.

Pull away any lines of muck on the rollers with a pair of tweezers. A quick puff inside the empty mouse and it’s sorted. A tiny trick, yes, but in cleaning so often it’s this attention to detail that counts.