How-To Geek

Ask The Readers: What’s Your Tech Spring Cleaning Routine?

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Whether you actually time your technology cleaning with the first blooms of spring or not, we’re interested in hearing all about your routines for keeping your machines clean and organized both inside and out.

Traditionally spring cleaning was a time to throw open the windows and set to work scrubbing the grime from the fireplaces and coal-burning stoves off the walls. Although very few of us need to worry about wiping the coal soot off our smart phones, there’s still a host of things we all do to clean, organize, and maintain our electronic devices. Whether you have a tip for keeping your operating system disk tidy and optimized or keeping the finger prints off your tablet’s screen, we want to hear all about your technology cleaning routines!

Sound off in the comments with your tips and tricks; don’t forget to check back on Friday for the What You Said roundup.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/14/12

Comments (13)

  1. D^Angelo

    Backup all the important stuff just to be safe (c:/, my documents, desktop, drivers)
    Cleaning the dust with some office depot compressed air, avoiding spinning the fans.
    Use a brush for that small places (fans, memory, capacitors, etc).
    Use some dielectric spray on the motherboard.

    If the pc turned on without problems its time to use ccleaner,
    Check if there is a toolbar installed or another unusual software that i dont want.
    Run my antivirus software or malwarebytes; some defraggler maybe.

    Finally check for updates in windows and other important software.

    My computer is ready for another 6 months non-stop working schedule.

    On monitor use a dry cloth only (monitor turned off), in keyboard and mouse use some compressed air + office depot keyboard foam cleaner.

  2. r

    Tech Spring Cleaning Routine?…uhhh?…soap & warm water for all workstations, servers, sans & tape backups :)

  3. LadyFitzgerald

    I open up my desktop PC every month or so and carefully blow out any dust with canned “air.” Like D’Angelo, I avoid spinning the fans only I make sure they don’t spin by using a small wooden stick to keep them from spinning.

    My netbook gets the keyboard blown of with canned ” air” and wiped down with a microfiber cloth that has been lightly sprayed with LCD cleaner. My dsktop keyboard gets the same treatment and my mice get wiped down with a moist LCD cleaner. All of mice are optical so I don’t have to worry about cleaning the ball and internal rollers anymore

    The rest of my gear I clean as needed. I wipe off exteriors with a microfiber cloth that has been lightly sprayed with LCD cleaner. I clean LCD screens by gently brushing off as much dust as possible with a soft brush, blow off any remaining dust with canned “air,” spraying lightly with LCD cleaner, and gently wiping clean with a clean microfiber cloth. Stubborn spots I get off by wetting a corner of a microfiber cloth with LCD cleaner and use that to carefully scrub at the spot, then wipe clean with the dry portion of the cloth. I make my finishing strokes vertically.

    I clean the platten of my flat bed scanner as needed the same way I clean LCD screens.

    My Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 ADF scanner gets cleaned as needed. Blowing out dust is verboten since it can cause dust to be blown into the cameras (Fulitsu’s term). I use a vacuum cleaner to get the dust out. While vacuuming , I also remove the feed roller and pressure pad and vacuum behind them. The pad and roller get ink buildup removed with Fujitsu’s F1 cleaner, then I put them back in place. I wet a corner of a microfiber cloth with LCD cleaner and gently clean the camera plattens, then wipe dry with a the dry portion of the cloth. I then lightly moisten the microfiber cloth with LCD cleaner and wipe down all exterior surfaces. Adter clean, I feed a sheet of white paper through to make sure the roller and pad have dried and aren’t leavinbg tracks on the paper.

    About all I have to do with my old HP Laserjet 1300 printer is brush and blow away dust and wipe down the exterior. If the printouts start to smudge a bit, I run some blank paper through the cleaning cycle. The thing seems to thrive on neglect.

    My external hard drive just gets wiped down as needed.

    To clean the works of my computers, I run weekly scans with Avast free, MBAM, Spybot S&D (TeaTimer runs full time), SAS, and Glary Utilities.

  4. TechGeek01

    I usually every few months or so will open my old Windows 98 and Windows ME to clean the dust out. I will frequently clean electronics with both compressed air and monitor wipes.

    Every month or so, I run CCleaner and Spybot Search & Destroy.

    I am a heavy computer user, and I practically live off of my Wi-Fi. Because of this, I find myself having to clean my downloads folder every couple of months. I will frequently delete old stuff, and move a lot to an “Old Downloads” folder so as to make my act of finding new downloads easier.

    I have a lot of cords and cables lying around. I end up having to organize my cables every month or so.

    Every now and then, I also have to use to re-inventory my cables and other things that are just too numerous to keep track of.

    Particularly for this spring at some point, I need to figure out where to put all my video/audio cards, motherboards, etc.

  5. Xana452

    Full Kaspersky scan across all machines, a canned air and vacuum run on my desktops, CCleaner on all, and for my slowest one: A re-install of Windows 7 Ultimate.

  6. semiretired

    My spring cleaning is going to the garage and deciding which parts I will actually use, and which computers, laptops and tvs are worth rebuilding, then trashing the rest. As for my everyday computers, I am perpetually behind as far as upgrading, organizing, backing up, and cleaning up and tidying the wires. My towers actually stay pretty clean, because I keep them away from the floor. I scrutinize the tower fans and power supply fans a couple times a year.

    Spring used to mean rebuilding a few computers while watching baseball on the television in the garage (mostly listening)…………I miss that.

  7. paranoidtodd

    Much of the same stuff others have posted about physically cleaning my machines, but I am very aggressive about keeping my machines lean and clean operationally.

    I run CCleaner and Glary Utilities at LEAST once per week (A clean PC is less “sticky” to malware). I love running multiple cleaners, one always picks up stuff the other did not. If you spend a few minutes looking through all of the programs features, you can really fine tune your maintenance.

    After I run the cleaners, I run Space Sniffer (free) and get a graphical depiction of my hard drive. You would be amazed how much space some of your files and programs take up. If I choose to delete or uninstall anything I run CCleaner again to tidy up the registry.

    I do not defrag as often as I use the cleaners, but when I do is use Puran Defrag. Its free and just about any third party defrag is better than the built in tool. Once I have done all the backing up, sorting, cleaning, uninstalling, and deleting, I then run the Puran defrag.

    I do all my updates as they are available, after all OS updates are the best anti malware action you can take. As far as active malware protection goes, I use MS Security Essentials, what a fantastic application.

  8. Rybak

    My spring cleaning is pretty well the same as above except I have a muffin fan (AC) with speed control that is strong enough to blow out everything in the box, at a lower setting I keep everything reel COOL hard drives and all.

  9. chris

    I collect old tech that people are throwing out and disassemble it

  10. Saeed Iranzad

    Actually, I try to keep my laptop free from dust and dirt by covering its screen with a clear transparent nylon foil (which is used to for dishes) and its keyboard with a gel cover.
    Despite living in dusty area, my laptop is pretty clean after 1.5 year of everyday use.
    Although I have an eye on its temperature by core temp.

  11. ryan

    Same as above just a bit more often. Once a week i run ccleaner with ccleaner enhancer updated. Weekly quick scan with mbam, fortnightly full scan with nod32. Remove n clean all fan filters with a brush then remove dust from radiator with a brush and finally blow all the losened dust out with compressed air.
    I do a backup image of my C drive once a month with macrium reflect and any media i need to keep like movies n music just get copied over to an external drive maually. keep it tip top n never let the junk files get built up so it runs perfect while gaming(primary use) :D

  12. thrower

    Very simple. Backup, reformat, and I’ve got a factory new system.

  13. zepe

    I backup all my personal files to two external drives that are not connected to my computers and about four times a year I take the computers out to my shop, power up the compressor and give everything a good blowing out. I periodically go through bookmarks folders and clean out stuff I no longer want as well. Internally I use CCleaner every few days and defrag regularly.

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