by Matt, matt@smalldog.com (wirtten by Matt, posted by Ed)

Customers often ask whether it’s necessary to clean out their computers. One customer believed that his PowerBook was so dirty inside that it was causing severe allergic reactions. It’s generally not necessary to clean your computer, and often can be more detrimental than helpful. For example, do not use a vacuum cleaner inside your computer, especially with a brush attachment. The brush attachment generates static electricity, and the suction can dislodge important parts. Never vacuum your keyboard. If a key is sucked up, the mechanism below may be damaged, and such issues would not be covered by your warranty.

After years of use, or use in a dusty environment, it’s possible that excessive dust buildup will begin to affect your computer’s ability to cool itself. In all cases where you wish to remove dust, take the computer outside and use a can of compressed air, held upright. Do not turn the can upside down. If a key on your keyboard becomes nonfunctional, try turning the keyboard upside down and blowing compressed air under the individual key in question.

It’s best not to use your computer in a smoky or greasy environment. A G5 iMac came in for power supply replacement some time ago, and we were greeted with the smells of hickory when we opened the case. Turns out the computer was owned by a local smokehouse that makes bacon, sausage, and ham from Vermont meat. It might smell like bacon, but that residue is not good for the machine at all. After another year in that environment, I can’t imagine the computer will function at all.

Since Apple does not consider the inside of most computers consumer-friendly territory, they do not have an official policy on how to clean there. However, there’s a multitude of cleaning procedures form the Knowledge Base. For example:

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