Maintaining a clean computer is not just a matter of aesthetics or even hygiene, although both are improved when you do this regularly. A regularly cleaned computer can actually last longer than one that is allowed to fester in dust, crumbs and other debris from your daily work habits. However, one wrong move – too harsh a cleaning product, too wet of a rag – and you’ve got trouble which may drastically shorten the life of your computer. Proceed at your own risk!
It’s important to check your manual for any cleaning instructions specific to your machine, but here are some general guidelines. Start by unplugging the computer to make sure you clean safely.
Dust and computers shouldn’t mix
Your computer generates static, which means that it will attract dust from the surrounding area. The dust can act as an insulator inside your computer, making it run extra hot and this can take a toll. Keeping your work area dust free and ventilated can do a lot to reduce the wear and tear on your machine.
Know your monitor
It’s important to clean your monitor according to its type. Flat-screened monitors have LCD or plasma screens. Avoid getting these screens wet. Use a microfiber or biodegradable dust cloth to dust and polish the screen. Don’t push too hard or you could damage your screen. CRT monitors can take a wipe down with a just-damp cloth, but use only water and no soap for this. Be sure to follow with a dry cloth.
Deep clean your machine
To wipe down the frame surrounding your screen, the back of the computer, the area around your keyboard and any other part of your computer, try this. Clean cloth diapers or old but clean t-shirts work great for this task.
Dampen a cloth with diluted dish soap and wring out so there is no chance of dripping. Fold the cloth so it fits in your hand with no part hanging out. Wipe down the frame of your monitor without touching the screen. If you do touch the screen, be sure to dry with a clean cloth immediately. Wipe down the rest of your computer in the same way. Use cotton swabs to clean in small spaces.
If you can keep up with regular dusting and ventilation, you’re already improving your computer’s lifespan. Add an occasional deeper clean for the screen and the rest of your computer and you’ll not only improve the lifespan, but improve your whole work experience.
Kimberly Delaney is the author of Clean Home, Green Home: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Eco-Friendly Homekeeping, published by the Knack imprint of Globe Pequot Press.