After using your PC for some time, you might see it degrading in performance a little bit. Maybe the temperature gets too high or there’s more noise coming out of the PC. Well, it might be that your PC components have gathered dust and need some cleaning.

Cleaning your PC once in a while helps keep the temperatures under control and improves airflow. Using compressed air cans is the most common method of cleaning your PC. But it is expensive and lasts for just one time. This article will show you how to clean a PC without compressed air.  

Also read: How Much Does it Cost To Build A PC?

How to Clean Your PC Without Compressed Air 

There are a few alternatives you can use for how to clean your PC without compressed air. In this section, we’ll explore some of those alternatives and tools you would require to clean your PC. Alternatively, you can use all of these together to clean your PC as their household items that you can find anywhere.  

Brushes

A standard method of cleaning the fins of a CPU cooler is using brushes. The bristles of these brushes easily slip into the fins of the CPU cooler and clean off all the dust. You can also use them for cleaning other parts where the cloth is ineffective. You can either use a toothbrush or a paintbrush to clean your PC.   

Piece of Cloth

This one is self-explanatory. You will require a cloth to wipe out the dust for a large and smooth surface, such as the PC casing. It will also come in handy when cleaning other parts of the PC. 

Thermal Paste

Thermal paste is necessary to keep your CPU’s temperature under control. Without this, the CPU chip will overheat and may get damaged. This is why it is recommended that you replace the thermal paste on your CPU when cleaning, as it gets dry after prolonged use.  

Alcohol and Cotton 

Relating to the thermal paste, you will need alcohol and cotton to clean off the thermal paste from your CPU chip and the CPU cooler. Thermal paste can’t be removed entirely without alcohol, so you should keep it in hand. 

Vacuum Cleaner

The vacuum cleaner is a popular alternative to compressed air, which you can use to blow off the dust from your PC. Although there have been reports of users saying their PC parts malfunctioned due to the static charge of vacuum cleaners, most people have also used this method for years. Make sure there’s no static buildup in your vacuum cleaner, or else your PC parts could seriously get damaged.  

Dust Blower

Another alternative when you run out of compressed air or if you don’t have a vacuum cleaner is to use a dust blower. However, most people don’t usually have this at home, so we’re back to square one. But if it’s available, the dust blower is great for cleaning your PC and getting rid of the dirt because of its high air pressure.  

Electric Blower 

Electric blowers are expensive but also great alternatives to compressed air. You will face no static electricity issues because of how they’re built. You can also use a hair dryer to clean your PC, but these produce scorching air and can cause nasty results. So, try to keep the air as cool as possible and turn off the hair dryer before it gets too hot. 

Standard Process For Cleaning Your PC

White PC Build
One should avoid White PC Build that is completely open. Picture: Tech4Gamers.

Power off your PC 

You don’t want to start deep cleaning your PC with it running. The first step in cleaning your PC is to turn it off completely. Unplug all the cables from the switches and also unplug the cable of the power supply.

Next, you should place your PC away from your workspace because the blown-off air from your PC will carry the dust to your desk, chair, etc. If you still have to clean your PC in your workspace, then clean it up afterward because there will be a lot of dust transferred from your PC.  

Clean the Casing 

The next step in cleaning your computer is to clean the PC casing or PC case. To begin with, use a screwdriver to remove all the screws in your PC case’s left side panel so it can come off quickly. This depends on your case, as some don’t use screws at all. Clean the PC case using a piece of cloth and the panels, both inside and outside.  

You will also need to remove any mesh and grids with a lot of dust on them. You can shake the dust off by hitting it against a hard surface and use a toothbrush to clean these grids but don’t do it too roughly, or else they could get a bit tilted or damaged.

Once you’ve cleaned the panel, place it aside. Now wipe out the dust from inside your PC case using a cloth. Use a brush or cotton for places you can’t reach with a piece of cloth. You don’t need to take out your PC components to do this. 

Clean the Parts 

Once you’re done cleaning the PC casing, the next step is to clean all the individual parts of the PC. The compressed air comes in handy as it blows off all the dust leaving a clean PC behind. But you can use a blower or a vacuum cleaner to do the same. Cleaning all the components inside the PC is divided into five parts. This isn’t a step-by-step process; you can clean each piece in any order you want.  

CPU 

When deep cleaning your PC, you should first remove the CPU cooler and wash it separately. Cleaning the CPU cooler is crucial so it can keep your CPU cool.

The CPU cooler wouldn’t perform as well as it should with gathered dust because the dust particles would block the airflow. If you have a stock CPU cooler, remove it by rotating and pulling out the support pegs and unscrewing any remaining support using the screwdriver. 

Once you have the CPU cooler removed from the case, it’s time to clean it. Use a blower or vacuum cleaner to clean the fins of the cooler’s heatsink. This will remove some dirt, but a lot of it will remain. You can use a toothbrush to remove any residue. You can also do the same to clean the fan of the cooler.    

For now, the only cleaning the actual CPU requires is thermal paste removal. Clean the dried-out thermal paste off the CPU using alcohol wipes and cotton.

Before applying the new thermal paste, wait for the alcohol to completely dry because any moisture can damage your PC. Also, it is recommended to use 99% pure IPA alcohol as it generally works better than 70% IPA.  

You can now install the CPU cooler on top of the CPU itself. This should improve your CPU temperatures a lot.  

Graphics Card

Graphics Card
disassemble your Graphics Card like this, and clean it. Picture: Tech4Gamers.

To clean the graphics card, remove the power cable which connects it to the power supply and take out the screws that are keeping it in place. Now press down on the clip holding it up, and you should hear a clicking sound. Gently pull the graphics card out of the PCIe slot. 

Once you take out the graphics card, wipe out the dust of the funs using a cloth and alcohol. Next, use a blower or vacuum cleaner if you don’t have compressed air to blow away the dust stuck in the graphics card fans.

It is crucial that you keep the fans held down, so they don’t move from the air pressure. If they move too fast, their coil could have a problem, or they might stop functioning entirely. With that out of the way, you’re done with cleaning your graphics card.  

You can put the graphics card back in now or clean other components before putting it back in. Just use the steps it took to take it out of the motherboard.          

Power Supply 

Technically, you can clean your PC’s power supply without taking it out of the case. But that wouldn’t be thorough enough to clean out all the dust. First, take out the power supply from your PC’s cables attached to it. Remove the connectors which are keeping it in place carefully.

Once they’re taken out, pull the power supply carefully out of its hatchet and clean it with alcohol wipes. To clean the fan of the power supply, use a toothbrush. You can also use any blower but keep the fans from moving. In the same way, you can plug the power supply back in after you’re cleaned it thoroughly.   

Motherboard 

The last step in cleaning your PC is to clean the motherboard. Due to it being placed vertically, the motherboard doesn’t gather much dust. But you can use a blower to clean out any dust that might have gathered on the motherboard.

After that, you can also clean the RAM using a cloth and the heatsink, which might have supposed a bit of dust. Storage devices don’t need cleaning, but If you want, you can wipe any accumulated dust off of them using a piece of cloth.  

And with that done, you can reassemble your PC and all the components you might’ve taken out. This ends the cleaning process, and you can finally say that your PC is clean and dust-free.   

How Frequently Should You Clean Your PC? 

A common question is how often you should clean your PC. PC components gather a lot of dust but don’t need thorough cleaning too often. A general rule of thumb is to clean your PC if you notice the temperatures being very high compared to when you first built your PC.

Clean it once every three months if you want to keep it tidy. Expert advice is to clean it once every six months. Some go as far as never cleaning their PC after building it, but that’s not good advice. Thorough cleaning could improve your PC temperatures and keep it more relaxed as if it was new.  

Conclusion 

In this article, we covered the question of how to clean a PC without compressed air and talked about alternatives that can be used when cleaning your PC. Cleaning a PC is a long and thorough process, so you shouldn’t rush it. A thoroughly cleaned PC will improve your temperatures and reduce noise.  

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Abdemanaf has been a creative writer since 2011. He first dwelled in the tech world in early 2015 and has since compared many product offerings by different companies. Abdemanaf started working for Tech4Gamers in February 2022 as a blog and comparison writer.