PC Hardware


For the most part, computer equipment is very reliable and lasts a long time. However, as with any piece of equipment, dirt and other airborne contaminants will greatly accelerate the deterioration caused by normal use. Therefore, the best preventive maintenance is to keep the equipment clean.

The first step is to be sure that the computer is installed in a computer-friendly environment. This means that it should be in a dust-free (relatively speaking), smoke-free, and humidity-controlled (within a range of 50 to 70 percent relative humidity) location. For the most part, a normal office environment will qualify as computer-friendly. However, a normal office environment is not the only place that we find computers. Many computers are located on a warehouse floor, in a shop, or grouped together with a large industrial piece of equipment. In the event that the location of a computer is not as desirable as it should be, the frequency of preventive maintenance (cleaning) should be accelerated. In these instances, consideration should be given to establishing a computer-friendly zone around the computer, for instance, installing it into a cabinet and providing a source of clean fresh air. The following table describes what a computer technician should include in a basic cleaning kit.

Item Usage
Lint-free chamois cloth A cloth is useful for cleaning the outside surfaces.
Cleaning solution Simple soap and water should be followed by a clear water rinse. Standard household cleaning solution (not extra strength) can also be used. The solution should be applied to the lint-free cloth and then applied to the computer surface. Do not use aerosol sprays. These generally use solvents as a propellant. Solvents can damage the plastic as well as the electrical components of a computer.
Foam swabs Use these with cleaning solutions to clean small parts such as the wheels inside a mouse. (Cotton swabs are not recommended, because the cotton fibers can come off and be a contaminant themselves.)
Antistatic spray An antistatic spray or solution should follow any cleaning. A solution composed of 10 parts water to 1 part common household fabric softener will do.
Small paintbrush and/or small hand-held vacuum cleaner Used to remove dust from around the computer and inside its cabinet. The vacuum can be used to remove dust from the keyboard and other input devices.
Can of air For removing dust from the power supply fan or from inside a computer. These can be purchased from any computer supplier; they are made especially for removing dust from electronic equipment.
Never use liquids to clean inside a computer. Never apply liquids directly to the surface of a computer. Never use solvent-based cleanser or aerosols.

The proper placement or location of a computer relative to its environment is important for ease of maintenance and long life. Let's sum up good practices for placement of computer equipment. A computer should be:

  • Located in a dust-free and smoke-free environment.

  • Subjected to controlled humidity (50 to 70 percent relative humidity).

  • Subjected to controlled temperature (do not place too close to a heater or in direct sunlight-avoid temperature extremes).

  • Have good ventilation (make sure fan/ventilation vents aren't blocked).