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Jason's PC Passion

Keeping it Clean

Main Parts of your Computer
Window Basics
About Us
Keeping it Clean
How to do things
Memory and Storage
PC Talk

The inside your computer requires regular cleaning, read this article and find out the how to's of computer cleaning.

If your household is anything like mine, your computer will collect dust, biscuit crumbs, pet hair and softdrink drips. Over time, accumulated grime causes problems.

You can reduce maintenance and cleaning problems by setting your PC in a friendly spot. To protect your PC, keep it in a corner sheltered from direct sunlight and extended periods of fresh air. Place it on a sturdy surface with a good airflow behind the back of the CPU.

When you purchase your PC, the salesperson may also try to sell you a maintenance agreement that includes cleaning. Don’t count on seeing a technician unless you initiate the call. Read the contract carefully or you might end up carrying the PC to the store for cleaning or paying for something you won’t use. You can pay a local vendor anything up to $60  to service and clean your hardware or you can do it yourself. It’s not hard or expensive to keep your PC clean.

You will need a few household supplies: cotton buds, soft cloths, and dish soap. The only specialized materials you’ll need are canned air and inexpensive kits to clean the drive heads. PC cleaning does not take long and don’t worry, you won’t damage anything following these instructions. Most PCs have several parts so we’ll go through them, one at a time. Before you begin, turn off the power to your PC.


The monitor, like your television screen, attracts dust and sticky fingerprints. You can buy anti-static wipes that double as screen cleaners. If you’re getting a shock when you touch the screen, static is a problem at your workstation. Consider placing a plastic mat under the chair to reduce the static build-up. I've found that paper towels work well as screen cleaners. Avoid spraying liquid at your monitor. Moisten the towel and then wipe the screen once a week.


Regular cleaning will keep the keyboard looking new. Use a soft cloth, perhaps a cotton diaper, moistened in a mild soap solution to wipe off the keys. While you’re at it, run the cloth over the plastic casing around the monitor and CPU. Be sure to lift the keyboard and dust the surface below. Turn the keyboard upside down to shake out crumbs or use a moist q-tip to remove them.

Avoid allowing water to seep between keys. Keyboards don't like to get soaked. Accidents do happen and I can personally vouch that, if you spill a glass of water on your keyboard, all is not lost. Set the keyboard upside down on a towel. Let it dry overnight and it should be fine. If the keyboard doesn’t respond properly after a soaking incident, call in a professional.


The mouse cursor moves on the screen when you slide the pointing device on a padded surface. When you notice that the mouse cursor does not respond quickly, it’s time for a cleaning. Most mice have a small cover that protects the ball hidden in the housing. Remove the cover by twisting it, shake out the cracker crumbs, and wipe the ball clean. You should also blow gently into the ball-cage or spray canned air into the opening. Replace the ball and reassemble the mouse. Clean the mouse about once a month, especially if your children are like mine and eat near the PC.

External Drives

Your computer, especially older models, may contain external drives. Floppy, tape, and CD-ROM drives all collect dust. The read-write head in each drive scans the disk or tape as it reads and writes data. A dusty head can scratch the disk or tape and cause maintenance problems. Regular cleaning is a must.

Several commercially available products can help you clean drive heads. These inexpensive products, generally less than $10.00, require you to insert into the drive, a special disk or cartridge moistened with cleaning fluid. Follow manufacturer instructions to force the read-write head to scan the surface. If you're lucky enough to have a drive with a yellow caution light you'll know it's time to clean when the light comes on. Otherwise, try to clean your drives once a month.

Central Processing Unit-CPU

The CPU resides in the metal box holding the computer parts you don't see. The motherboard, the modem, memory cards, and network cards live in slots on the bottom of the metal box. A high-speed fan inside the box prevents overheating as data shuttles around, following your commands. Help the fan do its job and minimize dust accumulation by making sure you have clear air space behind your CPU.

Once or twice a year, or whenever you upgrade the memory cards, remove the screws from the back of the CPU and slide the cover off the box. Tape the screws to the cover while you work. The screws are small and easy to misplace. Aim a can of compressed air towards an open space and spray the dust from the components. You will not hurt your computer by doing this. When you are done, slide the housing back on. It can be a tight fit. Be sure to put the screws back in place.

Your computer is now clean.

There is another type of cleaning your PC can Benefit from.

Follow all the steps to clean and improve Windows XP:

Step 1: Disk Cleanup

To start Disk Clean Up, click 'Start' > 'All Programs' > 'Accessories' > 'System Tools' > 'Disk Cleanup'.  

Select the drive you'd like to cleanup (usually C:\ or the letter drive windows is installed in) and click OK.  

Make sure all the check boxes to remove all the files that can be safely deleted.  If you want to keep some of the files, uncheck the box for that option. 

Click OK, YES, and OK and let cleanup do it's work.  

Step 2: Clean Windows (Cookies, Downloaded Files, Temp Folders, Unzipped)

Windows lacks in cleaning itself up.  Because of this, users have to manually clean up Windows.  The areas that need cleaning are the Cookies folder, Downloaded Program Files folder, Temp folder, and the Temporary Internet Files (TIF) folder (Disk Cleanup does not delete cookies in the TIF folder).  

To start cleaning windows, double click 'My Computer' > 'C Drive' > 'Documents and Settings' > Select the user to want to clean > open 'Cookies' > Select all the files and click Delete.  

Now go back to your Windows folder.  Find and open the 'Downloaded Program Files' folder.  Select all programs that you do not use, or programs that don't have valid names.  Click the Delete button or click 'File' > 'Delete'. 

Again, go back to your windows folder, find and open the 'Temp' folder.  This folder contains any left over setup files from programs you have installed, but failed to delete.  Select all the files, including hidden ones (to unlock hidden files, click 'Tools' > 'Viewing Options' > make sure 'Show all files' is selected) and delete them.  

Back to the Windows folder again, find and open the 'Temporary Internet Files' folder.  Disk Cleanup does not delete cookies in this folder, so we have to manually delete them.  Select all remaining files and delete them by clicking the Delete button or 'File' > 'Delete'.  

Now open your C Drive again.  Find a folder called Temp.  Open it and delete all the items.  

Again, in your C Drive, if you have WinZip, search for a folder called 'Unzipped'.  Delete all these files or move them to a folder if you wish to keep them.  The contents of the unzipped folder contain items that you unzipped using WinZip.

Step 3:  Remove any unnecessary Programs/Windows Components

The major element contributing to unhealthy computers concerns how programs are removed.  It is imperative that you know YOU CANNOT DRAG AND DELETE PROGRAMS TO THE RECYCLE BIN.  

To view all programs installed on your computer click 'Start' > 'Control Panel' > 'Add/Remove Programs'.  This will open a new window that will display any and all programs installed.  

To delete a program, select it, and click the 'Remove' or 'Remove/Change' button.  Click Close, then OK, Yes, and OK to remove the program.

Now, select the 'More Options' tab.  This will display all Windows components installed.  If you do not use some of these components, such as Address Book, or Desktop Themes, you can safely remove them to regain disk space.  Click the Check Box next to the component you want to remove.  A Shaddowed box mens some components are installed.  Click Details and Clear the Check Box next to the subcomponent you want to remove.  Click OK.  

Click Next, Finish, OK, Yes, and OK to finish the removal of all the components you want to remove.

You can also regain valuable disk space by removing Restore Points that System Restore creates when you backup your system.  To remove these Points, click 'Start' > 'Control Panel' > 'Add/Remove Programs'.  On the More Options tab, under the System Restore section, click Disk Cleanup.  Select Yes Remove all but Most Recent Restore Point.  Click OK, Yes, and OK.

Step 4:  Scan Disk (for errors)

Windows has a built in component to check and correct any linking/shortcut/program errors.  By scanning your disk for errors once every two weeks and guarantee less 'blue screen errors' or 'illegal operation errors'.  

If Scan Disk is not located in the System Tools folder, or you are using the NTFS file system, you will need to run Scan Disk upon start up of Windows XP.

To do this, open My Computer, and right mouse click the drive you want to scan.  Select Properties.  Now select the 'Tools' tab.  In the Error Checking box, click 'Check Now'.  Now select both checkboxes in the new window and click start.  If you get a message saying the volume cannot be checked, would you like to check when Windows XP starts up, click YES. 

Now, when you shutdown or restart, Scan Disk will automatically check files and folders, and free space for errors.

Please keep in mind while Scan Disk is running, you cannot use your computer.  Scan Disk may take 30 minutes to 2 hours.  It is best to run Scan Disk at night.  

Step 5:  Disk Defragmenter (improve speed, regain disk space)

You should run Disk Defragmenter after you have scanned your disk.  Disk Defragmenter is a built in Windows utility that relocates the data on your hard drive to one side.  While it does this, it collects all program fragments and data and bunches them together, thus improving the speed of your programs and increasing the amount of free space on your hard drive.  


To run Disk Defragmenter click 'Start' > 'All Programs' > 'Accessories' > 'System Tools' > 'Disk Defragmenter'.  Select the volume (drive) and then click 'Defragment'.


Please keep in mind while Disk Defragmenter is running, you cannot use your computer.  Disk Defragmenter may take 30 minutes to 2 hours.  It is best to run Scan Disk at night.  

Step 6:  Windows Update

Keeping Windows up to date is the most critical factor in keeping a computer healthy.  By running windows update, Microsoft can determine what updates your version of Windows needs.  Also, having the latest packages of updates installed allows your computer to be more compatible with software and hardware.  In Windows XP, click 'Start' > 'Windows Update'.  You can visit our Windows 2000 Product Updates section and download the latest updates.


Jason * Perth* Australia * 6169
Copyright of all documents and scripts belonging to this site by Jason's PC Passion.  2004. Most of the information contained on this site is copyrighted material. It is illegal to copy or redistribute this information in any way without our expressed written consent . This site is NOT responsible for any damage that the information on this site may cause to your system.