How to clean your gaming PC and prevent dust buildup
Maintaining a clean gaming PC doesn’t have to be a tough thing to do, and if you can manage it, you’ll ensure a better performing PC in the long run. If you’re building a new PC, then you’ll have some advantages because you can learn how to clean your gaming PC before it ever gets dusty in there.
Essentially starting from a clean slate. There are some things you can do to ensure you start off on the right foot too. Good cable management, for example, is highly recommended. Because you’ll have more room without your cables being a rat’s nest, helping to prevent dust from having more places to build up. Now, you’ll be limited by the size of your PC case. So it’s important to make sure you’re picking out a case that will give you the room you need to comfortably manage all the cables that will go inside.
And if you have a smaller case, then it’s a good idea to really take the extra time to manage your cables as best you can. Yes, it will take more time during the build. But you’ll thank yourself later when it comes time to do any maintenance and cleanup. If you’re new to cleaning your gaming PC we’ve put together a handy guide to walk you through some steps and best practices. Plus what not to do. So, let’s get started.
What you need before you clean your gaming PC
Before you get started with cleaning up your PC, there are a few things you’re going to need. The most obvious being a clean, flat work surface. Also make sure you’re cleaning your PC in a well-ventilated area. Once you’ve got your work surface picked out, make sure you have some tools to help you get the job done. Cleaning your PC can be a fun, relaxing experience and if you have the right tools for the job, it goes a lot smoother. Not to mention quicker.
Think of it like a quest in one of your games. You’ll need to acquire specific items that will help you complete your quest.
- Microfiber cloths
- Canned air for blowing out dust. Alternatively, an electric duster like this DataVac from Metro can do a great job
- Isopropyl alcohol (if doing a deep clean)
- Q-tips (if doing a deep clean)
Once you have these tools gathered, it’s also not a bad idea to put something down on the work surface you’re using. A towel, a large work mat of some kind. Something along those lines. This way when you blow the dust out of your PC, you can blow it onto whatever you’ve laid down for easy disposal and easy cleanup when the job is complete.
Dust builds up quite a bit inside of these machines. And if you just blow it out onto your work surface without laying something down first, you’re just going to have to sweep or vacuum that up afterwards.
Cleaning your gaming PC
Now to get to the nitty gritty. It’s time to clean your PC with the tools you’ve assembled. Take things slow and be extra attentive here. And with a little forethought, you can maximize your efficiency. That way you don’t have to spend longer than you need to with this task.
Start by powering down your PC, then disconnect the power cable and all your peripherals. Such as the mouse, keyboard, any wireless dongles etc. Then move your PC to your designated work surface. Next, remove any panels your PC case may have. For many cases this will just be two side panels. Some, however, will have front and back panels as well. If any of the panels have built-in dust filters, you can clean these first, and then use a microfiber cloth to wipe down any remaining dust if needed. Then, set the panels aside.
Next remove fan filters. Dust these off and then move to the inside components. Begin by using short bursts from your compressed air can or electric duster to blow off the fans, and the fans of your GPU. Do the same thing for the walls of your PC, and again for the bottom floor of your PC.
Once all of the inside is clean, you can move onto the outside. Use a small amount of glass cleaner on any panels which have tempered glass. Spray a tiny bit onto a microfiber cloth and then wipe down the glass. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down any other parts of the outside of the case. And if needed, use your compressed air or electric duster to blow any dust away from the nooks and crannies of the case.
How to do a deep clean
If you haven’t cleaned your PC in more than a year or two, then you’ll need to unfortunately disassemble your PC and clean the components individually. This should really only be needed if dust and grime are more or less caked on from years of use and no cleanings. The process is similar, but this is where you’ll need to bring the isopropyl alcohol and Q-tips in. As you’ll be using them to clean any delicate components like the motherboard, GPU and so on.
Start by unplugging all the cables from your motherboard. If your GPU is slotted directly into it, remove that and then remove the motherboard. If your GPU is connected to your board using a riser, simply unplug the riser and then remove the board from the PC.
Then remove all other components. Use your compressed air can or electric duster to blow off any large clusters of dust from the board, GPU, fans, and other parts. Then use a Q-Tip dipped in the isopropyl alcohol to clean any grimy areas of your motherboard and GPU. Wipe down your component cables with a microfiber cloth. Use the compressed air or electric duster to blow off any dust from the power supply unit. We also recommend not attempting to open up the PSU. Just clean it as is.
Once you get a point you’re happy with, re-assemble your gaming PC. From this point forward, make sure to do regular cleanings. This will prevent you from having to take the PC apart again to do a deep clean. Which in the end, will save you loads of time and effort. And trust us, you want that.
What not to do
The list is pretty short here, but there are a few things you want to avoid when cleaning your PC. Don’t use a vacuum for instance. As you don’t want to risk damaging components with static electricity. Stick to the compressed air cans. As mentioned above, an electric duster designed for the purpose of cleaning computers is also safe to use. And in the long run can actually be cheaper than cans of compressed air.
You will also want to avoid any types of cleaning solutions or water-based cleaners if cleaning the PC components. We also recommend avoiding cleaning the PC on the floor. Use a desk or a table with a mat or towel laid down.
Clean your PC regularly
As much as you might hate cleaning, you want to clean your PC regularly. A good practice would be to do this every couple of months. More if you feel like it. Though it isn’t really necessary to do it more than once a month. If you clean it often, and consistently, your PC should run smoothly and you won’t have to worry about performance issues caused by dust buildup and other grime.
Preventing dust buildup
This goes without saying really, but you can’t prevent dust buildup completely. You can however, minimize it. The best thing you can do to minimize the amount of dust buildup inside your gaming PC is to keep a clean room. Wherever your PC is set up, vacuum or mop/dust the floors regularly as well. Dust flat surfaces and other stuff like house fans that may blow dust around the room. The more you regularly clean dust elsewhere, the less dust there will be for your gaming PC to have to deal with.
Which ultimately will lead to less you have to clean the inside of your PC. The more you make a habit of keeping your room and PC clean, the more likely it’ll be that your PC continues to perform optimally. Which means your games will run smoother, and you should have more fun.