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Start the year off right with a clean PC

Grab a can of compressed air and apply a little elbow grease--it's time to get down and dirty with that dusty PC of yours.

By Alex Cocilova, PC World
January 03, 2014 02:51 PM ET

PC World - Unsavory detritus lurks in the vents and crevices of your computer hardware: Hair, dust, cigarette smoke, and pet dander can accumulate in your PC and also in your peripherals, even down between the keys of your keyboard. Some of it's just gross. However, buildup on fans and other key components can increase the heat stress on your machine, potentially making it unstable and shortening the life of individual parts. That's no way to start a new year.A With thanks to Marco Chiappetta's detailed rundown on how to clean a dirty PC, we're adding information on how to clean A peripherals as well.

Tools of the trade

You need just a few readily available supplies to give your PC and its accessories a thorough cleaning. To start, gather a lint-free cleaning cloth (not paper towels), an alcohol-based or other electronics-safe cleaning solution, and cotton swabs. Finally, get the most powerful weapon against PC grime: a can of compressed air.

Make sure your PC is shut all the way off. Then unplug the power cord and peripherals, and move everything away. You'll need elbow room to get at the nooks and crannies that normally don't see the light of day.

Mouse and keyboard

The keyboard is a bastion of grime and filth--and to think you touch it nearly every day. Desk snackers, you've likely also dropped crumbs and little sticky patches of juice or soda beneath the keys.

Use a cloth dabbed with a cleaning solution (Lysol, Pledge, or most any other similar product that sprays out of a can) to wipe off the keys and remove the surface-level gunk. Next, use a pen cap, a closed pair of scissors, or a small flathead screwdriver to carefully pry off the keys. (Tip: Record each key's proper location with a diagram or photo.) Dispatch anything disgusting underneath with your compressed air and cloth, and softly scrub at anything sticky or stubborn.

The mouse can collect a thin layer of residue from the oils on your hand--you may notice a grainy feeling and a lack of sheen on the surface. Wipe it down with your dampened cloth. If your clicking buttons can be removed, do so to get anything that may be trapped underneath. If they don't look removable, use a cotton swab to get into the cracks and clean out anything that may prohibit smooth clicks. Turn the mouse over and use the cotton swab to clean the LED area.

Fans and filters

Fans are the lungs of a PC. If they fail or if their vents become clogged, a PC will choke and die--something that's easy to prevent.A

Wipe down the offending vents with a cloth dampened in spray cleaner to remove the excess, easy-to-reach debris. Use a compressed air canister to blow out anything that can't be reached with the towel.

If you have removable filters, take them off and use a vacuum hose to get the big pieces of gunk. You can also clean the filters by rinsing them with water or wiping them down with a wet towel. I wouldn't advise using a vacuum around your sensitive components, however. Vacuums can cause static buildup that can discharge into your components--not good.

Originally published on www.pcworld.com. Click here to read the original story.

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