Dust: The silent killer of computers

Dust buildup inside of computers acts like a blanket, holding-in heat. It also builds up on fans, reducing their airflow and eventually leading to equipment damage. You should be cleaning your equipment every 3 to 6 months, so get started this Fall!

How to remove dust from a computer

You will need:

  • Compressed air (canned, air compressor, or static-free blower)
  • Old toothbrush or nylon detailing brush, cleaned.
  • Screw drivers (depends on the system you are opening)
  • Outdoor area to work
  • Dust mask
  • Eye protection
  • Rubber/latex gloves

Never dust a device indoors. Not only will this will allow the dust to be sucked back into equipment, but also into your lungs as you breathe.


  1. Disconnect the device from power and accessories.
  2. Take it outside where the dust can escape freely.
  3. Put on eye protection. gloves, and dust mask. (Safety First!)
  4. If possible, open the chassis to allow access to fans
  5. Begin by blasting air through the system in the opposite direction of normal airflow.
  6. Don't forget to blast the power supply for servers and PC's
  7. Once you have completed inital dusting, use the brush to carefully loosen dust from fan blades, grilles, and heatsinks.
  8. Follow the brush with air blasting to clear the debris.
  9. Repeat as neccessary
  10. Reassemble the system and return it to its home.

Tips for Reducing Dust Build-up

1. Avoid dry air.

Dry air increases both dust and static electricity. Computer equimpment is happiest between 45% and 55% relative humidity. In Colorado, you might need to add a humidifier to your home/office.

2. Do not place equipment at floor-level.

Dust settles towards the floor, and gets kicked up frequently as we walk around. This dust is quickly sucked up by equipment on the floor. Place your device on a desk, shelf, or cart to get it off the floor.

3. Avoid allowing pets in home offices.

Pet hair creates a net on fans, air intakes, and heatsinks allowing dust to collect faster. Try to keep your home office a pet-free zone.

4. Don't leave open windows near equipment.

Use an air purifier or filter system to draw air into the area where you house equipment.

5. Don't dust equipment indoors

I know, we covered this earlier but it is still very important.