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It doesn’t take long for electrical equipment to attract dust. When dust settles onto the circuit board inside the machine casing, the efficiency of the electrical pathway is compromised, and performance suffers. Eventually, damage can occur and expensive repairs may become necessary. To prevent damage, most computers should be cleaned every five to six months. If you smoke in the house, have pets or if several people use the computer, you may need to clean it more often. Consider these tips
• Turn off the computer and disconnect individual components, such as the keyboard and mouse, before cleaning. It is also wise to unplug it. Be careful not to bump knobs or controls.
• Do not spray liquid onto any computer component. If water or cleaner is needed, spray it on a cloth, then wipe or rub. Never get any component inside the computer damp or wet. Be cautious when using cleaning solvents since some can damage the case. Use water or a highly diluted solvent such as isopropyl rubbing alcohol, vinegar or a small amount of dishwashing detergent.
• Use a vacuum to suction dust and dirt from around the computer, on the outside case and on the keyboard.
• Use extreme care when cleaning fans, especially those in a portable computer or laptop. To prevent spinning, hold the fan or place something between the fan blades. Do not spray compressed air into a fan or vacuum it since this may cause damage or back-voltage.
• Avoid eating, drinking or smoking around the computer.
• Inexpensive household cleaning agents can be used in place of expensive computer cleaning products. However, check the use and care manual to see if specific cleaners are required for certain components.
• Lint-free cloths or paper towels can be used to wipe components, but a lint-free cloth works best. A cloth can be used when cleaning the outside of the case, a drive or a mouse, but should not be used to clean circuitry such as the RAM or motherboard.
• Cotton swabs moistened with rubbing alcohol or water are excellent for wiping hard-to-reach areas in the keyboard or mouse. Foam swabs work even better.
• The plastic case that houses the PC components can be cleaned with a lint-free cloth that has been slightly dampened with water. For stubborn stains, add a little household detergent to the cloth. Never use a solvent cleaner on plastics.
• Rub a cloth over holes and vents to be sure they are hair and lint-free. It is safe to use a standard vacuum when cleaning the outside vents of a computer, but for the inside, use a portable battery-powered vacuum to prevent static electricity. Wear an anti-static wrist band clipped to the main frame of the unit to avoid “frying” computer components.
• To clean the CD-ROM drive, purchase a CD-ROM cleaner from an electronics retailer. This should sufficiently clean dust, dirt and hair. Use a cloth dampened with water to clean the tray that ejects from the drive, but be sure it is dry before putting it back into the drive.
• Use caution when cleaning an optical (laser) mouse. Dampen a lint-free cloth with rubbing alcohol. Clean the outside of the mouse with the cloth, but do not clean the optical sensor.
• When cleaning a ball mouse, dampen a lint-free cloth with rubbing alcohol. Clean the outside of the mouse. Locate and remove the circular disc that holds the trackball in place. (Arrows on the disc should indicate which direction to turn.) Gently dab at the inside of the trackball cage. Inside the ball cage, there are two rotating wheels which often collect dirt. This can easily be removed with tweezers.
• When cleaning the keyboard, first disconnect it from the back of the computer. Then hold it upside down over a garbage can or counter and gently tap the bottom. Next, lay it on a table and spray compressed air in a crisscross pattern between the keys to remove additional dirt. A vacuum attachment brush can also be used. Finally, use the cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol to clean the surface of each key and the surrounding areas of the keyboard.
• To clean the monitor, spray a lint-free cloth with cleaning solution and wipe the screen and monitor. Do not attempt to open the inside of the monitor. If you have a thin screen LCD monitor, read the use and care manual. Many recommend no cleaning products at all.