As with the previous part of this topic, it’s good to do a routine clearing out of dust inside your pc. As to how often, it depends. If you ask two different people, you will get two different opinions. For some, this also depends on where you live. People living in Arizona typically have more dust in and around their homes, more cleaning is necessary and even then it still seeps into your machine. Dust and cigarette smoke are silent killers to computer hardware. Any smoke can be bad for a computer, it leaves a residue. Dust can also build up quick where there is a lot of smoke. It almost seems like the two go hand-in-hand.

But What can you do to remove such crap from your fans and heat sinks? Most computer owners use cans of compressed air religiously. These cans can be bought at your local Walmart or Office Depot. Many people used to take their machines to a neighborhood computer repair shop for the same maintenance rather than doing it themselves. As with all hardware, it’s good to eliminate as much dust as you can as dust is an insulator on electronics, but buying a 3 or 4 pack of canned air might save you upwards of 50 or 60 dollars. You’re welcome!

Last time, if you’ll remember, I talked about several commands that would clean the software you no longer wanted from your computer, some of these also removed unwanted files and debris. While this is probably not often needed on Linux machines as much as it is on Windows, it’s still good practice to free up space when you notice your browsers running slow or when you think your journal files might be corrupt(I’ll do an article about that later). I also added that I’d show you how to clean your /tmp directory, I haven’t forgotten, it’s just so super simple that you can do that with as little effort as rebooting or shutting down your system. This frees up cached RAM as well as removes any virtual files connected with it. Not only are these files not needed browsing data, this directory also contains copies of built or half built software in Linux. Windows doesn’t clean this directory automatically, but Linux does. In my scripts, there is a command which does this for you, but it’s almost redundant for me, because when I run the clean up function on my systems, I quite often reboot anyway.

With all that introduction out of the way, it’s time to move on to the actual cleaning. I’ll do these in steps so you don’t get lost.


  1. Canned air

  2. Microfiber cloth

  3. water gel or 91 percent alcohol

  4. kleenex

  5. Paintbrush


  1. First shutdown the device, this should be apparent by now, but electricity could kill you. Do this first

  2. Open the case, make sure to press the power button a few times to dissipate any remaining energy. When fooling with computer inards, it’s also best to touch the metal on the case first, but for this part you will hardly need it.

  3. Grab a can of compressed air(Duster). This should have a small straw that came with it, place the straw into the tiny hole on the nozzle. This sometimes likes to fall out so you’ve been warned.

  4. Hold the can of compressed air up to the cpu heatsink and fan, but don’t let it touch. Take a small pen or a finger and rest it between the fan blades so that the fan doesn’t spin. Spinning the fan the wrong way can cause damage to the fan.

  5. Now squeeze the trigger in short repetitive bursts. To knock dust free from the ridges of the heatsink, you may need to come back later with a small brush or something similar to try and clean this if it is still caked on. Be gentle with this method, some heatsink-fan combos do come apart, check to see if yours will.

  6. Next move to the power supply and try to blow from the inside out first. Use the same repetitive blasts as before, then change it up with longer ones. Then move to the back of the system and if you can, try to place a pen between the fan blades to keep it from spinning too much. This will force any other dust back into the system, so we will need to blow the case out further.

  7. Now move to the case fan, blow out both ends, then take a paint brush and try to sweep the remaining dust off of the blades as much as possible.

  8. Now blow any and all hard drive bays free of dust, also try to focus in on RAM modules, there’s not a lot you can do when they’re in their respective slots, but get as much as you can. This will make our job a little easier later.

  9. Now just blow randomly throughout the case, if your case has a rather closed front bezel on it, take that off and wipe/brush any ventilation holes and usb ports.

  10. Now it’s time to wipe out the exposed parts of the case itself and clean the ventilation holes on the cover. To do this I use a microfiber cloth with water gel, the same substance I use to clean my monitor, or I use a thin napkin or kleenex with 91 percent alcohol. The Alcohol doubles up as a solvent to remove thermal paste should you wish to replace the cooler or upgrade the CPU. It’s important to note that you won’t get every bit of dust with this part of cleaning, but you will get a majority of any dust that could potentially clog up your fans later.

  11. Another good, but optional step would be to pull the individual RAM modules, taking note of where each one goes, or pull them one at a time and replace them, this can help remove dirt. You will want to take a paint brush and gently brush the modules. It’s not often recommended that you touch the pins, however, it’s impossible to clean off the modules without touching them a little, this will clean any debris and blowing out the slot that the RAM was locked into is another good idea. RAM produces heat as well as anything else, so dust is a no-no.

As a followup, take the paint brush and brush gently over the heatsink-fan combo, the case fan, power suppy vents, vents on the case, and any pci cards protruding from the motherboard. This will help take any loosen dust that wasn’t removed with the air off of the surface. This is also good for getting along the edges of the fan blades. It’s sometimes good to blow out the machine every three months or so, but this is to be more thorough. Now that your computer is clean, you can hook up the cables and try to boot the machine. If everything boots fine, that’s it. It’s also possible to blow out the dust with a vacuum cleaner or a leaf blower, this is usually advised against because of the remote possibility that you could create a static charge against the motherboard with this method, however, I have never experienced this issue. Not once have I had to replace a motherboard with this method. That said, using the can air might be the better solution.

Link to scripts:

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