Spring Cleaning for Your Computer: Inside and Out

March 9th · 4 min read

Spring is a great time to clean up your computer. It can be a tedious task, but this not only helps your computer to run faster, but it also extends its life.

Exterior Cleaning

Before you begin doing any exterior cleaning on your computer, make sure first to turn off and unplug your device. Skipping this step can result in unintended actions when cleaning the keyboard and mouse and cause other damage to your computer’s hardware.

Screen

Begin by wiping the screen from corner to corner with a soft, dry microfiber cloth. Microfiber is recommended as it pulls the dirt away from the device instead of it staying at the surface of the rag, which can cause dirt and debris to scratch the screen.

Next, slightly dampen the cloth with plain water--if it’s dripping, it’s too wet. Cleaning solutions aren’t recommended as they can deteriorate the surface of your screen. Gently wipe the screen using the damp cloth just firmly enough to remove any dirt and debris, being careful not to scrub too hard.

Mouse

To clean your computer’s mouse, begin by unplugging your wired mouse or removing the batteries of your wireless mouse. Use a clean, damp (but not dripping) microfiber cloth to wipe any fingerprints, dirt, or food particles from the outside of the mouse. Optical mice use only light to detect surface area, so internal cleaning isn’t required for these. Mechanical mice that use a ball and rollers are susceptible to dust particles that make their way inside and can affect the functionality of the mouse.

To clean the inside of a mechanical mouse, turn it upside down and rotate the ball-cover ring counterclockwise to remove the ball. You can then clean the ball using water and use a damp microfiber cloth to remove any debris in the ball’s housing. Allow these parts to completely air dry before reassembling and reattaching to your computer.

Mousepad

To clean a cloth mousepad, soak it in soapy water and then use a rag to wipe any stains clean. Plastic or rubber mouse pads can be wiped with a damp soapy cloth. After cleaning, allow the mousepad to air dry before using it again.

Keyboard

If your keyboard has any crumbs between the keys, use a can of compressed air to blow them out. If you don’t have any compressed air on hand, blowing through a drinking straw can produce similar results.

After any crumbs have been removed, dampen a clean cloth with isopropyl alcohol and run the cloth over each of the keys. Then, using an alcohol moistened Q-tip, wipe between the keys.

The Tower and Other External Devices

Use a soft, damp (not dripping wet) microfiber cloth to gently wipe any dust and fingerprints from any cords and your computer’s exterior housing, keyboard, and mouse.e especially careful cleaning around ports--getting liquid inside of the ports can severely damage them. This same approach can be used for any external devices that you have, such as your printer, scanner, the back of your monitor, and any other peripherals.

Interior Cleaning

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To keep your computer running at its best, it’s a good idea to periodically clean the inside as well. After each of your newly cleaned exterior components have dried, restart your computer to begin cleaning the contents of your computer.

spring clean

Delete Unneeded Files on Windows

Windows 10 comes with a storage manager that makes it simple to clean out unneeded files. In the Settings app, select System, then Storage. Here, you can identify folders and files that use the most space. As you sift through these files, delete each of the files that you no longer need.

Most computers come with a number of programs that you’ve never used or that you don’t need. There’s no need to keep these. In the same Settings app, select Apps & Features. As you find apps that you don’t use, delete those as well.

Next, open your Disk Cleanup utility. There, you can erase temporary files. This improves the speed of your computer and system files and clears additional storage space. If you find that you have very little storage space after clearing these unneeded files or if you’re a perfectionist and want to clean every nook and cranny possible, additional cleanup tips are provided by Microsoft here: Tips to free up drive space

Delete Unneeded Files on macOS

Newer Mac versions also include a Disk Cleanup utility. To open this, select the Apple icon on your menu bar and select “About this Mac”. In the window that opens, click on the Storage tab, then select “Manage”. Here, you can remove any applications or files that you haven’t used in a while. You can also move any photos or media files off of your hard drive and onto the cloud so they aren’t using valuable space on your device. The Reduce Clutter option offers recommendations about files to delete that you haven’t accessed in a while.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, open your iTunes preferences and click on Devices. If backup files are stored for any old devices that you don’t use any longer or those that you’re now backing up to the cloud, those can be deleted as well.

Clean Up Your Browser

Clearing your browser history and cache is another way to clear additional space and keep your browser running at top speed. To do this, open your browser and open your preferences then clear your browser’s history and cache.

Remove Malicious Extensions

Many browser extensions have the ability to hijack your sessions, spy on your online activity, and take other actions on your behalf. By installing a browser protection tool, like Guardio, any malicious extensions will be disabled and you’ll be alerted if you attempt to install another malicious extension in the future, saving you the time and hassle of dealing with implications of breaches to your data.

Final Cleanup

After you’ve removed each of the files, folders, and apps that you no longer need, clear your computer’s recycle bin and restart your computer. A thorough cleaning of your computer may be a tedious job, but it’s important to do to maximize the life of your computer and keep it running in tip-top shape.

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