Computers moderate temperature by running a number of fans that force air to flow through the system. An unfortunate side effect of this is that dust and other small particles generally ride that moving air and end up inside your machine. In the long run, this will put more of a burden on your fans. They will ultimately break down if this dust is not dealt with. Once your fans fail, you will need to buy new ones or your components will overheat. Overheating pieces of hardware will fail very rapidly. Many people never figure out that their fans are gone until a part fails.

Unfortunately, there are only a small number of safe methods to clean dust from your machine. The devices that remove dust can also damage system parts. Even the safest methods should be used in moderation. There must be a balance between these two concerns.

The safest tool for cleaning dust is a can of compressed air. When you get compressed air, you want to confirm that the specific formula is designed for use on computer parts. Since canned air is fairly inexpensive, price shouldn’t be an hurdle here.

If you are dealing with a desktop, you will need to open the case to remove the dust from your system. As you start spraying the canned air inside your case, you might observe a white foam on the surface. This is liquid butane being forced out by the air (typically because you’re holding the can at an angle) and it evaporates in very little time. While this will not damage your computer, you might want to attempt to keep the can completely straight as you’re spraying so that it stays working longer. You may have to keep the fans from rotating while you’re cleaning by placing a soft object against the fan blade. This is a divisive step, many users dust off their fans without doing this. As long as you choose something that will not damage the fan to prop the blades in place, it should be fine, but the decision is yours. You should make sure to blow the dust off of each fan in your system. There could be a couple case fans. You also could have a fan on the heat sink of your CPU. If you have a high quality graphics card, it might have a fan as well. Your power supply fan is the most important one to clear, a dusty power supply fan can catch on fire.

You will also want to clear layers of dust on all of the other components inside your computer. Once you have completed this chore, you might note an improvement in the operating temperature of your machine. If so, you have probably waited too long to clean the interior of your computer.

If you have a laptop, this will be a little more complicated. You can wipe off the outside very easily. Yet, the inside of the laptop will get dirty too. You can get into the fan intake and exhaust with the small straw packaged with most canned air items. For most people, this will do the trick. You could need to open up your laptop periodically to clean the rest of the inside area. This is an advanced step. If you don’t know how to dismantle your laptop safely, you should probably not experiment with this.

You don’t want to fanatically get rid of dust from your system. Doing this too frequently may hurt your fans or other parts. However, you should make sure to do it every few months. This will add years to the life of your hardware components.