Cleaning Your Personal Desktop Computer

Information Technology Resources

by Robin Dary

Taking care of your computer will help it last longer and work better.

To clean your mouse - The trackball can pick up dirt and dust from your desk and mouse pad. Also, the wheels that the trackball come in contact with get dirty and need to be cleaned. If you notice your mouse "doesn't work right", it may be time to clean it. First, turn your PC off.

Turn your mouse over and you will see the ball sticking out of a cover. Look at the arrows on the cover and turn it in the indicated direction to open it up. Don't worry about anything falling out. The only thing that comes out is the ball, and maybe a little dust, and you want to take that out anyway. You can clean the ball with alcohol if it needs it, but usually just wiping it off will work. A cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol works well for cleaning the wheels. When you're done, drop the ball back in and put the cover back on. If cleaning it doesn't help, it may be time to replace it. PC mice are usually less than $10 and are sometime free if you watch for sales in the Sunday paper.

To clean your optical mouse - If you have an optical mouse, one with a red light under it, there is no ball and you can just wipe off the lenses with a cotton swab.

To clean your keyboard - Never spray anything into your keyboard, this includes coffee. You can use a vacuum cleaner to clean dust, dirt, staples and cookie crumbs from your keyboard, but make sure your computer is off before starting, and make sure you don't have any loose keys. Rubbing alcohol works well to clean the keys and surface of your keyboard, but use it sparingly. Using a cloth works well, as paper towels tend to leave little pieces behind. If you spill something sticky like your favorite soft drink on the keyboard, the keys will likely start to get sticky as it dries. It could be time to replace it. They too are cheap and can be free if you watch for a sale.

To clean the computer - You can use a vacuum to clean around the vents and anywhere else that looks dusty. Be careful in the back of the PC to not knock any plugs loose. It is a good idea to keep the vents clean and free of dust, pet hair or lint. How often you clean your computer depends more on the environment it's in than the manufacturer's recommendation. I have 2 dogs that shed so I clean my computer about every 2 months. A cloth and alcohol can be used on the outside of the PC if it's dirty but, again, turn it off first.

To clean your monitor - A vacuum can be used to remove dust from the vents. If you have fingerprints on the glass, you can use the same wipes that you would use on your glasses or use as soft cloth and warm water followed by a dry cloth. Think of your monitor glass the same way you think of glasses, if you wear them. They may have delicate coatings on them that can be scratched. Always avoid chemicals on displays. To clean a laptop display or LCD - These displays are plastic and can also be scratched by paper products such as tissues or paper towels or damaged by chemicals. Use a cloth made for glasses or camera lenses or a soft cloth and warm water followed by a dry cloth.

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