Cleaning Your Gaming PC – A Necessary Evil

by Dan
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Cleaning your gaming PC might seem trivial, but it is an essential component of maintaining high performance. No matter how clean you think your dwelling is, eventually, dust and other particulate will start to collect in the filters, fans, and heat sinks within your PC. By cleaning your gaming PC, you are ensuring optimal performance and heat management. The best part about cleaning your gaming PC is that it’s not rocket science.

Basic Cleaning Your Gaming PC

Heat management is all about letting fresh air in while moving hot air out. If there is dust built up in your filters, on your fans, or in your heat sinks, heat management becomes difficult. Cleaning your gaming PC is all about efficiency. If components are clogged up with dust and debris, the system will be inefficient and potentially overheat.

I think cleaning out your system is probably a smart thing to do, especially if you noticed it starting to get hot.


A few quick warnings are probably in order before discussing the best way to clean your gaming PC.

First, don’t breathe in the junk you are cleaning out. No one ever felt good after taking in a deep breath full of particulate. I recommend you wear a mask or respirator when cleaning your gaming PC.

Second, be very careful about static discharge. The components in a gaming PC are somewhat fragile, and introducing jolts of electricity to those components could render them useless. I recommend an anti-static wristband anytime you are working on your computer.

With the safety warnings out of the way…

Let’s Get Down to Business
Cleaning Your Gaming PC with Canned Air

The first order of business is to power down your PC, unplug from the wall socket, and give everything a minute to lose whatever residual charge may be present.

The second thing you need to do is take apart your case. Removing the side panels and front panels will give you the best angle of attack for cleaning your gaming PC. In this same step, I suggest removing any dust filters as well.

The third step is to start removing the dust from the side panels, the base of the tower, and from any filters you may have removed. You can do this by gently rubbing the components down with a microfiber cloth, similarly to what I suggested in my article on how to clean your gaming monitor.

Once the initial dust is removed via wiping, you can turn your attention to the heat sinks and fans. I recommend using canned air to blow the dust away. If there is any stubborn dust left on the previously wiped down components, canned air is a great option to finish cleaning up those parts.

Once all of the dust is blown free, take the extra minute to clear it from the computer case. If any dust ended up on the surrounding work surface, clean it up with a vacuum.

DO NOT use the vacuum inside of your gaming PC. The hoses on vacuum cleaners generate a ton of static that, if discharged, could render your gaming PC useless.

Deep Cleaning Your Gaming PC

Deep Cleaning Your Gaming PC

Let’s say you went through and did everything I just mentioned but your gaming PC is still full of dust and particulate. Congratulations! You have triggered the need to partake in a deep clean.

If you made it this far, I assume you understand that the same safety precautions apply here. Similarly, you will want to power down your computer and remove the side panels and filters.

What you want to do next is start actively removing the components in your computer. Take out your fans, graphics card, etc. You will want to lay these all out on a non-conductive surface and prepare to get to work.

Again, the best first action you can take is wiping away dust using a microfiber cloth. For fans, hold the fan blades still with one hand and wipe each blade clean. You can take the same approach with other components, dust filters, and heat sinks.

For components that have nooks and crannies or are just stubbornly resisting having debris removed, turn back to canned air. Using the long-hosed attachment for the canned air is great to concentrate the spray of air and to get into hard-to-reach places.

If a component needs a real deep clean, you need to consider taking it apart. A typical scenario would involve the graphics card. All you need are a few essential tools to make this happen. If you are in doubt, don’t take it apart. I one time took apart the power supply unit and then voided its warranty—a costly mistake.

How Often Should You Clean Your Gaming PC?

I clean my gaming PC quarterly. I would do it at least twice a year. Just throw it on your calendar and commit to doing it. The more regularly you clean your computer, the less time-consuming the deep cleans will have to be.

No matter how frequently you do a basic cleaning, I recommend doing a deep clean once a year, maybe every year and a half if you don’t have the time. Between the regular cleanings and the deep cleanings, you should be able to keep your gaming PC running at peak performance for a long time.

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