Say for example, I have a computer with many many fans, and which that computer sits on the carpet floor.

What is the best way to get dust, hair, bits of trash, maybe even bugs, out of a moving piece of hardware like a computer fan? Ideally, you should not have to open or disassemble the device.

Would blowing or vacuuming be better? How could I make sure no more dust gets into the machine again?

I have attempted vacuuming: this leaves dust inside the machine.
Blowing: this just gets the dust up in the air where it settles back down again.
Wiping: Very difficult to reach and manipulate a cleaning tool to reach all dust present.

  • Why can't you open the computer? I do to clean mine out fairly regularly Dec 18, 2014 at 1:28
  • @ZachSaucier My specific case: A server that needs to be running 24/7 is sitting in my basement and I haven't cleaned it in months XD Dec 18, 2014 at 1:29
  • While working in a tech job in a hospital, I did PM work (removing dust) from hundreds of PCs whenever they got too dusty. What I learned from this was that the causes of dust in CPU cases were (from largest to smallest impact): 1) Distance above floor, 2) foot traffic in area, 3) carpets (instead of smooth floors) in area. PCs in patent registration (high traffic on carpets and PCs on floor) had to be cleaned every few weeks, while Lab (PCs on counters on tile with low foot traffic) would stay clean for years. If you reduce particulates that reach the PC case, less dust will build up. Jul 26, 2019 at 10:42

3 Answers 3


I would say clean the machine good once a year or twice, timing depends and in between doing this to reduce dust accumulation in the room, because you can't stop it accumulating on the electronic:

  • Remove pets, especially birds and cats from the room. These help dust accumulate.

  • Seal up cracks. Dust can get into the room through these and affect your device.

  • Clean dust frequently. Dust that accumulates in the room can get into the device. Airing a room is important, but avoid hot dusty days.

  • Remove cluttering items and pack away things neatly. Dust can accumulate in corners and on objects.

  • I haven't really used air purifiers, but I have cleaned air filters, the article says get air purifiers. Air purifiers remove dust and other stuff from the air.

Things I use:

  • Whisk the outside clean with a brush. This doesn't clean the inside but may loosen inner dust.

  • Now swab with cotton swabs, you can get longer ones.

  • Since the swabs probably loosened the dust, taking a vacuum or shop vac and sucking with it should remove loosened dust and the stuff you couldn't reach.

Using water should make the dust stick together, which from my experience is not a good thing. Blowing the dust pushes it farther away which is not a good thing either. A cleaning where you take the electronic a part is good to do once or twice a year.

Vacuuming should be done first and then you should do blowing to loosen more dust and finish with more vacuuming. Don't vacuum vigorously as this can loosen and injure pieces of the device.

Alternate Methods:

Taking microfibre clothe attached to a small long object usually works, as well. You can use this to reach inside of the vents, but make sure you can see through to what you are doing. This loosens dust and can make using a vacuum more effective.

Keep in mind that none of these methods work as good as taking the machinery apart. And probing your machine through vents when you have no idea of what you are going to touch is a bad idea. So always make sure you know what you are going to touch and are aware of any dangers. The machine should be off, if not it is not safe and cleaning should not be attempted.


Before completing any cleaning method on your computer, it is important to back up all of your files. Even though this is unlikely to cause any damage, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Shut down the computer and unplug all of the cords from the CPU. Take it outside or in an area that is well ventilated. When we get further into this process, the dust will start flying.

And be careful about vacuuming and compressed air.

It’s bad to clean the inside of your computer with a vacuum cleaner because vacuuming creates a large static build up that could (and most likely will) discharge into the sensitive electronics inside your computer case. There are specialized vacuum cleaners designed for cleaning out computers and electronic equipment but given the limited amount of use a single user would get from such a purchase it’s not a very wise one—they start at $300+ and can easily break the $1000 price barrier.

What we’d recommend doing is taking your computer case into a well ventilated area (outside on a sunny day or in your garage is a great place), grounding the case to protect against static discharge (although the risk here is very very low) and using compressed air to clean the dust off. If you’re using an air compressor (as opposed to just a can of compressed air from the computer store) make sure to start a good 24″ or so away from the case and work your way in closer. You want to use just enough air pressure to blast the dust off the surfaces and out of the case without overdoing it and pushing dust into even more difficult to remove places.

One important thing to consider: compressed air (from a compressor, not a can) contains minute amounts of water vapor. Although we’ve never actually heard of this happening to anyone it is (however remote the chance) possible to blow moisture into the connectors on your mother board and damage it if you were to boot it immediately afterwards. This is in the range of lightening-strike remote, however. None the less to be extra cautious we would recommend that you leave the computer off and in a warm dry location for a few hours after you give it a good air-compressor cleaning to allow any residual moisture (if it’s even there to begin with) to evaporate. This borders on paranoid caution, mind you, but better safe than sorry.

Additional Info


Compressed air: Sold in a can, compressed air is perfect for blasting dust and dirt between keyboard keys and other tight crevices.

Electrostatic cloths (Swiffer, Pledge Dry Cloths, etc.): These dusters are typically made of finely woven synthetic fibers with tiny "hairs" that create a magnetic charge and pull dust particles.

Microfiber cloths: Unlike paper towels or rags, microfiber cloths easily trap dust between their fibers instead of spreading more dust and lint. Bonus: Unlike wood-source products like napkins and paper towels, these cloths won't scratch sensitive surfaces and can be washed up to 500 times.

Stuff I haven't tried.

From the User Ainimache:

Is to blow through a straw. I'm sure I'll be told that's not clean air, but it's better than nothing, and does a fair job.

Especially when you're cleaning out someone's older computer that simply is caked in dust inside.

You can use the straw to direct the air flow somewhat, and if you can't get the force you can out of a can of air, blowing through a straw doesn't freeze what you're cleaning.

Get Rid of Dust

Fox News:

  • Don't use feather dusters.

Feather dusters only aggravate existing dust and cause it to settle elsewhere around your home. Instead, use a damp cloth or moist towelette to wipe down surfaces.

  • Remove carpeting.

It may look gorgeous, but carpeted floors are high-maintenance and magnets for dust mites. They should be vacuumed daily, but even that may not be enough for people with severe allergies. If you're attached to your carpet, consider investing in a vacuum cleaner with a double-layered microfilter bag or a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which prevents dust from being re-introduced into the air. Otherwise, stick to hardwood, vinyl, linoleum or tile flooring.

  • Didn't I say that someone who knows their way around Wikihow would be an asset to LH? :P ....+1, great answer!
    – Shokhet
    Dec 18, 2014 at 2:28
  • See comments on your first answer ;-)
    – Shokhet
    Dec 18, 2014 at 2:30
  • :P ....this one comes close, though.
    – Shokhet
    Dec 18, 2014 at 2:48
  • Quote: " unplug all of the cords from the CPU.". There are no cords attached to the CPU. I suggest it means "all the cords attached to the computer Tower" Jun 20, 2015 at 1:38
  • A vacuum will produce HUGE amounts of static electricity, and this can be potentially fatal to the machine... Sep 8, 2015 at 15:41

In our office I can see that the IT staffs can clean around 30 computers within just an hour or two, by being curious enough I investigate their techniques.

First they will move the computers and put them in an open area so they can blow the inside of a cpu case. Take note that they are using a strong blower not just an ordinary one.

Once they are finished on blowing the computer I notice that all the chunks of dirt inside are easily removed.

Then they will use a cotton or worn out cloth or a rag to thoroughly clean the remaining parts. You can wet it if it is applicable. If they are in rush hour they dont do this step anymore.

  • +1 I used compressed air at a car service nearby. After that, it looked like new, inside and outside. MANDATORY: do it outdoors, not inside the room. Cleaning the room might be a lot more difficult. For home use, compressed air cans, especially created for computers, are a very easy choice.
    – virolino
    Jul 11, 2019 at 13:28

In order to prevent the dust from settling back in the case, you can balance the PC on two elevated surfaces (such as tables, one on each side) with the open side down and blow the compressed air upwards. This method requires a mask and goggles to prevent inhalation or ocular contamination but is quite effective.

  • 1
    Wouldn't it be better to have the open side down? Dec 23, 2014 at 9:24

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