Jul 25, 2023

How to clean dust from a PC without compressed air

A handy round-up of tips, tricks, and hacks for cleaning your computer or laptop without using canned compressed air

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If you’ve had the recent thought that you should probably clean your computer but don’t have the necessary tools, we get it. It’s a common reason people put off properly cleaning their devices. If you don’t have a can of compressed air, what are you supposed to do?

As it turns out, there are plenty of options – and plenty of reasons to avoid compressed air, which can be both wasteful and harmful if used incorrectly. With the guidance of some of our go-to cleaning experts, we explored the alternatives to cleaning our computers with compressed air. The good news? There are plenty of options! And some of them are already in your home right now.

Even if you’re not using compressed air, all of our experts warned that the first step should always be to power down your device.

'Always turn off (and possibly unplug) your laptops and computers when cleaning,” says Marcia Sloman of Under Control Organizing. This is to avoid causing any accidental damage during the process.

If you’re removing dust from your keyboard without compressed air, Sloman says there’s one very simple alternative. 'Begin by turning your keyboard upside down to remove any loose debris,' she suggests.

Whether you're expecting a load of crumbs to fall out or not, we suggest doing this one over a nearby trash can or, at the very least, a dust rag to collect the debris and keep it from dirtying up the rest of your workspace.

Marcia Sloman has been a professional organizer for more than thirty years. By helping individuals during and after times of life’s transitions, Marcia is particularly well suited to work with those facing personal or professional shifts, as well as anyone coping with the avalanche of tasks and stuff. Her specialty focuses on help for individuals challenged by ADHD, anxiety, medical issues, or life changes such as job changes, birth, death, moving, or divorce.

As another alternative to compressed air, Sloman says a dry brush is perfect for removing dust from your keyboard or any other hard-to-reach places on your PC, computer, or laptop.

'A new makeup brush, toothbrush, or unused small paintbrush can be used to loosen any particles,' says Sloman.

Now that you’ve removed as much internal dust, dirt, and debris as possible, Sloman suggests wiping the whole machine down with a lint-free cloth, available at Amazon.

'Use a lint-free cloth to remove surface dust and dirt,' she says. 'If you have to disinfect the keyboard, use a small amount of alcohol or peroxide on a lint-free cloth as it dries quickly.'

Remember, too much cleaning solution can permanently damage your computer, so definitely take the words 'small amount' seriously when cleaning laptop screens and cleaning monitors.

Jill Koch of Jill Comes Clean is all about using an electric air duster, at Amazon as an ideal alternative to canned compressed air.

'You can use compressed air but I actually prefer an electric air duster,' Koch tells us. 'They often come with attachments to help brush crumbs and dirt out of the keys and they are rechargeable so you can use them over and over again.' An investment, but a great desk organizing tip for a clean and productive setup.

Jill Koch is an expert in all things organizing and cleaning. She’s a mom, wife, nurse, and former news reporter who never lost the sharing side of reporting, and thus her blog, Jill Comes Clean, was born.

If you’re using a dedicated device like an electric air duster, that’s one thing. But Sloman says you should avoid repurposing other appliances to clean your computer.

'Avoid using hair dryers or vacuums to clean dust from a PC because they can cause static which could zap your computer parts,' she says. 'An alternative to compressed air is a mini-keyboard vacuum, at Amazon.'

If you really want to avoid using compressed air or any other additional tech cleaning tools, Koch says the trick is to stay on top of cleaning your devices. This way, things won’t have time to build up enough to need anything extra.

'I really just encourage cleaning your screen and keyboards when you notice they are dirty,' says Koch. 'If you are in a routine where you clean your home office regularly, you could make it part of that cleaning routine, but I find we don't always remember to clean the screens and keyboards even if cleaning the space they are in. When they need it you will notice.'

Sloman agrees and suggests keeping to a schedule. 'If you use your laptop daily, it’s best to clean the keyboard weekly,' she tells us. 'If you have food items around, crumbs may fall between the keys.

Electronics are one of the most forgotten spring cleaning dirt spots but as Sloman points out, dust, food, and skin products could damage your computer long-term so paying attention to these crucial areas is a smart move.

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Ashley Chalmers is a freelance writer for Homes & Gardens with over 10 years' experience as a digital writer and content creator. Ashley started her career in entertainment and fashion PR in New York, before moving to the French countryside and taking up travel blogging. Now, Ashley lives in London. Her passion for travelling is only matched by her love of making her house feel like a home, and she loves to include her finds from around the world in her decor.

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