How to Clean Your Computer
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated May 31, 2021)
When most people think about cleaning a computer, they usually think of only one thing, and that is how to remove an unwanted program, or groups of programs, from their computer. Unfortunately, most people tend to forget about the other, more common, meaning of this phrase. The more common meaning is to simply remove dirt and grime, as you would with most other items. If you have a computer, it is a good idea to learn how to do both, and is not necessarily all that difficult as long as you follow these simple instructions.
One word of warning before you begin: The instructions listed here are primarily for dealing with a PC (or personal computer) rather than a Mac. The reason for this is rather simple in that PCs are the most popular and widely used form of home computer right now. While it is true that Macs are becoming more and more popular as time goes by, they are still not the most popular currently on the market.
Cleaning Your System:
- Update regularly. If you aren't already doing this, then you will need to ensure that your computer is regularly updated. Admittedly, this is only able to be done if you have an internet connection, but it is something that can be easily set up. For the most part this can easily be done by opening your Start menu and then looking for the Update option. If it not there, you may need to look under All Programs, then Accessories, and then the System Tools. After you have done this and opened the correct program, you can easily set up a regular update schedule.
- Clean out the cookies. Cookies, despite their name, aren't tasty little treats that you can eat. Instead, they are little bits of information that is left on your computer after you have visited a website. Overtime, these cookies can very easily end up slowing your system down. You can wipe these out permanently by using the right kind of software, which can be purchased at most office supply stores. To remove them from your temporary file you can click on the Start menu, open the Control Panel, and then click on the Internet Options. In there you will find the Delete Cookies option, and this will clean out the temporary file.
- Run a disk cleanup. To run the disk cleanup all you need to do is click on the Start menu, then All Programs, then Accessories, and then go into System Tools. While in the System Tools menu, select the Disk Cleanup option, and then select the More Options tab, and select the tabs of Window Components, System Restore, and Installed Programs. At this time, you should also remove or delete all but the more recent restore point since you shouldn't need them any more.
- Periodically defragment your system. While you don't need to run it all the time, or even monthly, it is a good idea to periodically defragment your system. This will help move all the files to where they are supposed to be, and help make the system operate more efficiently. Be aware that this particular step can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to complete.
- Use some protective software. It is a sad fact that in today's world you will need to protect your computer from things like adware, malware, spyware, and viruses. There are very few single programs that you can get which will help protect your system from all of these, and some programs can actually be dangerous to your computer. You will want to go to your local computer store and office store and get advice from the experts there as to which program or programs will work best for your needs. After you have the programs installed, you will want to periodically run them to ensure that you haven't picked up anything nasty.
- Remove unwanted programs. Go to the "My Computer" area of your computer, then the control panel, and select Add/Remove Programs. Remove all of the unwanted programs that you don't want any more. Be careful when you do this, since you don't want to inadvertently remove a program that you will need at a later time. Be aware that you may need to restart the system a few times to completely remove the unwanted programs.
- Create a restore point. Once you have finished cleaning the system be sure that you create a new restore point. This way if something happens to your computer you can restore it fairly easy to good working condition.
Cleaning the Computer:
- Turn off the system. Before you can begin to physically clean the computer, you need to turn it off. In fact, it would best to physically disconnect the power line from the computer and the electricity source. This way you don't accidentally get electrocuted while working on the computer.
- Remove the casing. Remove the outside casing of the computer so that you can get to the interior of the system. This can easily be done by using a small screwdriver to disconnect the casing. Keep in mind two things. The first is that by opening your computer casing, you may potentially void the warranty that came with the system. If this is the case according to your owner's manual, then you will want to take the computer to a professional to be cleaned. The second thing is that not all cases are attached by screws so be careful when you do this so that you don't break anything.
- Use compressed air. Once you have removed the casing, use some compressed air to remove any dirt, dust, or possible grime that may have worked its way into the computer. Be careful that you don't break anything and that you follow the direction on the air can properly. For particularly stubborn bits of dirt and grime you may want to carefully brush the area with a loose bristled paint brush, once again being careful to not break anything.
- Clean the outside. Since you have the casing off of the computer, take the opportunity to completely scrub it clean. Use water, a sponge, some mild degreasing dish soap, and get to work. You should be able to remove all of the build up dirt and grime without any serious problem, though you will want to be careful that you completely dry everything before you put it back together.
- Don't forget the attachments. While you are cleaning everything, make sure that you don't forget to clean the attachments as well. This will include things like the monitor, mouse, keyboard, printer, the modem, and basically anything that is attached to the computer. Each of these items should also be cleaned, and can be fairly expensive themselves so should be regularly cleaned as well.
- Replace everything. Once you have everything nice and clean, you need to put it all together again. With everything put back together, turn the system on and make sure that it is working properly. If you have been careful, then you shouldn't have any problem with your computer at all.