A helpful guide to cleaning your computer

To clean the screen of a computer — including iPads, e-readers and tablets — of any size, use only a soft, lint-free cloth (microfibre is ideal), since abrasive cloths, paper towels and even facial tissues may cause damage.

A helpful guide to cleaning your computer

1. Turn it off

  • Before cleaning any device, you should turn it off and disconnect it from any external power. Besides being safer, it is much easier to see any dirt, oil or fingerprints on a dark screen.
  • Wipe the dry cloth very gently over the screen to pick up any dust. Do not press hard — especially on screens that are not designed to be touched, such as desktop screens, as this can actually damage the display.
  • If you need moisture to loosen anything stubborn, use only water to barely dampen the cloth and, again, rub very gently.
  • Do not spray anything directly onto the screen, avoid getting moisture in any openings and do not use household cleaners, aerosol sprays, solvents, alcohol, acetone or ammonia-based products.

2. To clean a keyboard

  • Turn off its power, remove any cables (or remove the batteries on a wireless version), turn it upside down over a wastebasket and give it a good shake.
  • On larger keyboards, most of the crumbs and dust will fall right out, but on smaller keyboards with narrower gaps, you might have to vacuum it with the brush attachment.
  • You can also use a can of air, available at hardware or electronics stores, to blast away hair, crumbs and dust from between the keys.
  • To clean the keys and surrounding metal or plastic, start by rubbing them with a lint-free cloth dampened with water only. If that is not removing the real grime, spritz the cloth with methylated spirits and continue rubbing.
  • Do not spray any liquid directly onto the keyboard and take care that your cloth does not get too wet.
  • Gently rubbing over the cleaned keys with a fabric softener sheet will keep dust-attracting static at bay.

3. Clean the exterior

  • Don't forget to clean the exterior of your computer, too — whether it's a desktop PC and tower, an all-in-one desktop machine, laptop, iPad, e-reader or tablet.
  • Unless you've done something seriously untoward, most computers can be spruced up with a good wipe with a microfibre cloth or water-dampened lint-free cloth.
  • Really stubborn marks can be removed with a little all-purpose household cleaner sprayed onto a soft cloth.

4. Clean inside a PC tower

  • You can also use compressed air for this job, but proceed with caution.
  • Remove the computer from its power source and remove the side or back of the case using a screwdriver.
  • Do not touch anything inside that you do not need to — the main thing that will need cleaning inside the tower is the fan.
  • Keep your fingers away from cards, cords and other parts.
  • Make sure the compressed air extension nozzle is at least 10 cm (4 in) from the machine.
  • Blow air into the fan at the back of the case.
  • Then blast a bit of air into the disk drives.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to remove any dust that you dislodge, but do not apply the vacuum cleaner directly to the interior of the computer itself — you risk sucking up or dislodging vital small parts.
  • Before replacing the side, wipe the inside of it with a damp cloth and allow to dry completely before screwing it back into place.
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