Computer Cleaning - Recommendations?

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by FenFox, Aug 10, 2018 at 12:57 AM.

  1. FenFox

    FenFox Limp Gawd

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    So I'm looking for a way to clean off the thin surface level layer of dust that's typically found on video cards/fans/drives/drive bays/PSU's etc. Y'know the kinda dust that doesn't come off with a blower/compressed air no matter how close up you blow.

    Was thinking about getting this: Link

    But one reviewer from else where said the bristles aren't protected against electrostatic charges, just the handles. *shrugs*
    Is this product fine or no? I'm not looking to disassemble to clean, I just want something I can use to do a quick wipe-down every 3 months with the PC unplugged and the PSU off. I'm ordering/using an ED500 DataVac to blow, but as I said, that's not gonna get rid of the surface layer of dust or anything that's caked on and It's ridiculously dusty where I live.


    So if I'm wanting to wipe down my equipment what should I use? I've seen some strange things on YouTube. People spraying WD40 on what appears to be some sort of towel and wiping down the internals or using microfiber cloths, which seems like a really bad idea to me.

    What about alcohol wipes? Like 70% Isopropyl Alcohol Wipes.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018 at 1:14 AM
  2. Ocellaris

    Ocellaris Ginger @le, an alcoholic's best friend.

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    Just use a cheap paint brush and alcohol wipes. I use the wipes on most of the flat surfaces and some gentle brush strokes + air compressor on everything else.

    For alcohol wipes use ones meant for optics like glasses.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018 at 1:20 AM
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  3. mnewxcv

    mnewxcv [H]ardness Supreme

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  4. FenFox

    FenFox Limp Gawd

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    Paint brushes won't generate static electricity? How about the brushes I linked?

    Alcohol wipes may leave fibers behind? Is 70% alcohol fine? I'll need something to use on motherboards / graphics cards (components with very bumpy ridges so, something--a cloth--that won't tear/shed fibers would be good). Some people recommend microfiber cloths while others say that's a no-no.

    Only reason I'm looking into this is because I have to clean out 4 computers soonish and some of them have a disgusting amount of dust in them that I know won't be cleared out via blower/compressed air.
     
  5. DrLobotomy

    DrLobotomy [H]ardness Supreme

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    Items you will need....

    1 - Big ass box of Q-tips.

    2 - Bottle of Isopropyl alcohol.

    3 - Paper towels.

    Now sit down and start cleaning.
     
  6. FenFox

    FenFox Limp Gawd

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    Why the ones meant for glasses?
     
  7. SticKx911

    SticKx911 [H]ard|Gawd

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    I wouldn’t use anything less than 90%. The 70% is more likely to leave residue film behind and will take longer to evaporate.

    A bottle of 99% everclear and you can take turns cleaning out your guts with your pc. Real bonding time. Haha.
     
  8. RedWagnum

    RedWagnum Gawd

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    Dude, you are making this way more difficult than it needs to be. Turn the PSU off but leave it plugged in. This will provide a ground path for any static. Get in there with a soft or medium bristle brush and loosen up the caked on dust. If you are that concerned about static wear a static wrist strap connected to the chassis. Then get in there with your ED500 and blow the crap out. If you still have stuff on your flat smooth surfaces then just take a damp cloth or paper towel and wipe it down. If it leaves little bits of fibers behind ED500 it again. No need for alcohol, WD40 (wtf?) or any other solvents unless your computers are in a contaminated environment (cigarette smoke, solvent vapors, etc) in which case alcohol or ammonia would be your best bets. And don't worry about the percentage alcohol content - the only difference is the percentage of water. As soon as you open a 99% alcohol bottle it starts absorbing water from the air. 70% will work just as well as 99%, 99% of the time.

    The one place you need to really take extra care is if you have a (non-glass) window in your case. The various types of plastics used for case windows can scratch easily and can be negatively affected by different chemicals.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018 at 5:49 PM
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  9. FenFox

    FenFox Limp Gawd

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    I'm just being thorough with this so I don't damage anything. I've had people suggest things to me in the past and if I hadn't researched, I would've damaged my components.

    So I can use a toothbrush, a paintbrush or these: Link ?

    Cloths that are tossed in a dryer would be static magnets though. But using a regular cloth/microfiber cloth/towel doesn't matter with the PSU plugged in?

    This kinda WD40 seems legit.

    And yeah, I have a non-glass windows side panel. I won't go near it with any chemicals.
     
  10. RedWagnum

    RedWagnum Gawd

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    Research is a good thing! But the World Wide Web has as much bad information as it does good. You just have to learn how to temper your research with a little common sense. A lot of folks see computers (and most electronic gadgets) as delicate little boxes full of magic when in fact they are fairly robust pieces of engineering. They can take a fair bit of "abuse" and still keep working.

    If you feel the need to buy something specific to the task that brush kit would do nicely and is reasonably priced. Your old toothbrush would also work but I would not use the old wire brush that you used to clean the paint off the shed in the back yard.

    You dry the clothes that you wear in the dryer right? Should you clean your computers naked to avoid static? No. If the cloth that you want to use has been through the dryer recently (within the last couple hours) just put it on top of your computer (if it has a metal top panel) for a few minutes and any static charge it might have will drain away through the case. I would not recommend a terry cloth towel or the microfiber cloths that look sort of like terry cloth. The little loops of thread tend to snag on things like sharp edges and corners, pins, connectors, and the like. The smooth type of microfiber cloths or an old cotton T-shirt or bed sheet should work just fine.

    I would use that for cleaning contacts but nothing else. Looking at its MSDS it contains Isopropyl Alcohol, n-Hexane, and 1,1 Difluoroethane - not stuff I generally like to breath. And at $23CDN versus what, a buck for a bottle of alcohol? If you think you need a solvent stronger than water, just use alcohol.

    Main thing there is to get rid of the dust first with a soft haired brush like a fingerprint dusting brush or a makeup brush (UNUSED). If there are still smudges or fingerprints use a clean microfiber cloth dampened with a little window cleaner or LCD screen cleaner. I'll often use a mixture of 7oz water, a tablespoon of ammonia, and one drop of dish washing liquid.

    Just be careful and use common sense and you'll be fine. Static is not as big of a deal that many make it out to be. In fact many (most?) modern motherboards and video cards have built-in protections for minor surges. During this time of the year (summer for us northerners) when the weather is generally warm and moist it's not much of an issue unless you are wearing your rayon panties and your fur coat and trying to be a static generator... :D
     
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  11. pendragon1

    pendragon1 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    NO WD40 in PCs, use contact cleaner or something for electronics IF you have to. follow Red's suggestions and youll be good.
     
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  12. CAD4466HK

    CAD4466HK Gawd

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    Makeup brushes and a shop-vac FTW.
     
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  13. pendragon1

    pendragon1 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    just make sure that makeup brush has never been used! made that mistake once, thought it was clean...
     
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  14. CAD4466HK

    CAD4466HK Gawd

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    Hell no! I steal the cheap ones my wife gets for xmas that she won't use. ;)
     
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  15. FenFox

    FenFox Limp Gawd

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    Ok, thanks. I think I'll just pick up a new makeup brush/paint brush or the brush kit I linked. And if I feel I need to, I'll just get some 70%+ alcohol wipes or alcohol and use these smooth microfiber cloths to clean off any caked-on debris.

    Last few questions and then I'm pretty much done with this topic.

    If you're using a liquid on your computer to clean your components (graphics card/motherboard etc), how long would you personally wait before turning everything back on? I realize some liquids evaporate quicker than others.
    Also, when cleaning, someone recommended turning off the computer & PSU but leaving the power cord plugged in as a ground I guess. Is this even necessary?
     
  16. pendragon1

    pendragon1 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    that will work. with alcohol just a few minutes usually. I do leave the system like that but I also hit the power button to discharge the caps. this keeps everything ground just in case.
     
  17. FenFox

    FenFox Limp Gawd

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    Ok, that's strange, never heard that before. So leave the computer plugged in with the computer / PSU turned off, but while It's off just press the power button to "discharge the caps" alright.
     
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  18. pendragon1

    pendragon1 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    its just another way to keep it safe instead of a anti-static mat. ill even plug in another psu while im building a system so I can touch it and ground myself. but I live in dry ass alberta...
     
  19. silk186

    silk186 [H]ard|Gawd

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    I use a can of air and baby wipes. Baby wipes worked well for cleaning old paste off my CPU as well.
     
  20. pendragon1

    pendragon1 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    except baby wipes aren't just alcohol and may leave residue(aloe or whatever). best to use alcohol wipes if anything.
     
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  21. silk186

    silk186 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Good baby wipes only contain water. I would not want to wipe my babies ass with alcohol.
     
  22. pendragon1

    pendragon1 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    sure no alcohol, didn't mean they contain alcohol but I see the wording is weird. just plain alcohol is best and I dont have a baby but I doubt that its only water in those wipes.
     
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  23. RedWagnum

    RedWagnum Gawd

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    That brush kit you linked to is actually a pretty good deal. I'm thinking of picking up one myself mostly because of the various sizes and shapes - the anti-static property is just an added bonus. And those microfiber cloths should do the job nicely and can be washed and reused unlike IPA wipes.

    Drying time for using alcohol, as pendragon1 mentioned, would be a matter of minutes. If you are concerned wait an hour. If you are using a cloth dampened with water give it an hour or two.

    No it is not absolutely necessary to turn off the PSU and leave it plugged in but it is a really good idea unless you are planning to hose your computer down with a water hose*. Turning the PSU off at the PSU breaks either the line or neutral connection to prevent power from flowing but leaves the ground line connected. This provides a path for any stray voltages (eg: static) to ground. pendragon1 mentioned pressing the PC power button to discharge the caps. Not a bad idea but unnecessary. By the time you pull the PC out, turn off the PSU, get out your tools, take the side panels off, etc the caps will have already discharged. Just look for the power LED on the motherboard. If it is out you should be good to go. If not, do like he said and hold the power button for a few seconds until the LED goes out. And if the computer turns on, you forgot to turn the PSU off! :)

    * Don't laugh - people can be stupid. I actually witnessed a lady in a Mercedes at a car wash hosing down the INTERIOR of her car. Seats, dash, windows, carpet - everything! Not intimating that you would do anything like this. :D
     
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  24. RedWagnum

    RedWagnum Gawd

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    Most baby wipes contain some sort of lotion with lanolin, aloe, and many other chemicals. Might be good for a baby's butt but not for my computer! :D
     
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  25. FenFox

    FenFox Limp Gawd

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    Yeah, the brush kit sizes/shapes are good and while it says anti-static, IIRC a user said that the bristles aren't anti-static, just the handles. *shrugs* so unless you need the different sized brushes/shapes, may as well just stick with your makeup brush/paintbrush/tooth brush or whatever it is that you use.
    I assume you'd just hang dry the microfiber cloths vs throwing them in the dryer? I'd kinda be thinkin' they'd pick up lint if you threw them in a washing machine. Maybe just better to hand wash them and hang dry. OK this thread is turning turning me into an OCD clean freak now. Must....not....read....anymore! But seriously, comment and I'll read, THEN i'll never read again!

    I've actually been encountering numerous people who say It's dumb to work on your PC with the PSU plugged in even if It's turned off. Can't tell if those people are dumb, or I'm just dumb for listening to them. Or maybe both. Power LED on mobo? Hmm, I don't see it.
     
  26. SixFootDuo

    SixFootDuo [H]ardness Supreme

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    paint brushes are amazing and really do get rid of all surface dust. I would also invest in a Metro Vacuum aka Electric Vac. Some advice, do not bang these around. They lose suction easily due to the way these are constructed.
     
  27. RedWagnum

    RedWagnum Gawd

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    Again, it's the same situation with the clothes that you wear. If your clothes are picking up lint then there is something wrong with your appliances. If you really are that concerned about it then hand wash and hang dry.

    Yes, in the terms of absolute personal safety you should de-energize any electrical circuit you are working on be it a flashlight or a Tesla coil. Yes, it is possible for the PSU to short out and kill you while you are working on the computer. It is just as possible for the same thing to happen while you are using it normally. You have a greater possibility of winning the lottery today or being struck by a meteorite while doing naked cartwheels in Central Park! IOW, it's not likely to happen. A long time ago I was concerned with this also and I found a "ground only" cable. It's a short green cable, about 8" long, that goes between the power cable and the PSU. It only contains the ground wire - the hot and neutral lines are not connected. I think I bought it from Cyberguys.com but I can't find it there now. Now-a-days I just leave the PSU plugged in and turned off. The main thing is to ensure that the computer chassis is grounded somehow.

    Many motherboards have a power LED that lights up when the PSU is turned on to let you know that the motherboard is receiving power. Yours may or may not have one. What make and model is it?
     
  28. FenFox

    FenFox Limp Gawd

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    Unless i'm blind, I don't see it: Gigabyte Z87X-D3H
     
  29. pendragon1

    pendragon1 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    should be the orange? power button in the upper right near the ram, it doubles as the power led.

    stole this from a yt vid:
    upload_2018-8-12_12-7-15.png
     
  30. Brian_B

    Brian_B [H]ard|Gawd

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    With fire.

    It’s the only way to be sure it’s clean
     
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  31. silk186

    silk186 [H]ard|Gawd

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    one of the reasons i like baby wipes is that they are soft and don't leave fibres behind like tissue and paper towel can.
     
  32. pendragon1

    pendragon1 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    who said anything about paper towel? go get your baby wipes and read the ingredients...
     
  33. FenFox

    FenFox Limp Gawd

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    Nope, It's not there. Maybe it would help if I mentioned the revision. Rev 1.1
    But I'm pretty sure there's no light because I'm looking at the mobo right now and I don't see one.

    Also, speaking of grounding, why are people saying that touching a painted case while you work is good enough? From what i'm aware, that won't do anything. Shouldn't you touch the screws on the PSU (turned off) or attach an ESD wrist wrap to the screws? Because those aren't painted so you'll be able to ground.

    Basically, from doing some recent reading and from reading the responses in this thread, this is my understanding of grounding when working on computers.

    #1.) Attach PSU to outlet, turn computer off, turn PSU off, press power button once, and you're grounded. (Occasionally touching the PSU screws).
    #2.) If building a computer, wear an ESD wrist wrap and attach the alligator clip to the mat so that it'll conduct electricity from your body down into the mat. Then attach a second alligator clip to the mat and plug the other end into the grounding pin on your main (electrical outlet).

    Now, I doubt many people who build computers bother to do this, but this seems to be the correct way that you ground when building a computer if you care a great deal about ESD. Am I wrong or is there a more convenient way to do this? Now, maybe ya'll don't care, but I'm one of the most unlucky fuckers around so I do care.

     
  34. manny1222

    manny1222 Gawd

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  35. pendragon1

    pendragon1 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    esd will still go threw the paint. the power button press is to discharge the caps in the psu. if you are building in a dry staticy area then a mat will help protect it or a commercial/shop setting will have them for insurance against esd. but building an a hard surface and floor, not moving much and touching the grounded case is plenty for normal people building at home.

    in the 25+ years that ive been working with computers I have only zapped something once. it was in the middle of winter, in dry ass alberta and I was stupid enough to work on carpet while swapping cpus and killed a k6-2 450.
     
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  36. Spartacus

    Spartacus [H]ard|Gawd

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    I also bought one of those ED500 blowers a while back when they were on sale.
    Great little machine that easily pays for itself by not buying canned air.

    https://www.amazon.com/Metro-ED500-DataVac-500-Watt-Electric/dp/B001J4ZOAW

    Works awesome for blowing Cheeto dust out of keyboards too. :D

    The innards of the computer do not need to be spotless, just most of the dust removed.
    You'll run it for a week and it'll have another fine coat of dust anyway.

    Not worth the risk of damage trying to make it look brand new.... really no need for that.

    .
     
  37. RedWagnum

    RedWagnum Gawd

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    I looked at the manual for your motherboard and it indeed does not have a power LED on it. So either follow the advice of pendragon1 or wait a couple minutes after turning off the PSU to let the caps drain.

    Watch this video. Maybe it will relieve some of your fears. And/or give you a good laugh...
     
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  38. pendragon1

    pendragon1 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    oops forgot to address the led. yeah I dont know what rev that vid had so its possible it changed. when you plug the system in but dont power it up do you see any leds light up on the mobo?