System Cleaning - Any tips or best practices?

Markess

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May 19, 2018
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So I'm wondering what folks like to do with a dirty system that hasn't been maintained in a while?

A recent chassis purchase on Ebay had the added bonus of an oldish (Haswell) but still working system inside. It was pretty grubby and had a whole family of dust bunnies inside. After blowing it out, there's still a thin dust layer on everything that isn't going to come off short of rubbing it off.

Do you like to leave that sort of dust on, or clean it off? I always like to clean things up, but if the dust is on every exposed surface, I can see the risk of damaging PCB components if I try to get it all off.

Any preferred methods/supplies, especially for things like Motherboard & GPU? I generally use an air compressor, plus Q-tips and rubbing alcohol, followed by fresh TIM. But I'm sure there's other, probably better, ways to go about it.
 

alex_stief

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May 31, 2016
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I also use compressed air whenever I have access to it. What ever that can not get rid of stays on.
For home use I recently bought one of these: IT Dusters CompuCleaner Xpert, Staubgebläse
It is surprisingly effective, and comes with a set of brushes if you really want to get rid of that stubborn last layer of dust.

Maybe it's a myth, but I try to block fans from spinning when cleaning with compressed air. Allegedly, spinning fans can create high voltage/current that fries board components.
 
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Markess

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May 19, 2018
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Thanks for the response and the tip! A brush tool connected to a low pressure vacuum like that would certainly help! I hadn't thought of that.

Maybe it's a myth, but I try to block fans from spinning when cleaning with compressed air. Allegedly, spinning fans can create high voltage/current that fries board components.
I do that too, although I'd never heard that they could feed voltage back into the system. I did hear that if you're using significant air pressure you can spin the fans much higher than their design RPM (larger fans I suppose, probably not 40mm ones) which could damage them. Plus, I'd think you can blow more dirt off the blades if they are stationary, instead of the air simply spinning them.

Thanks again.
 

Markess

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May 19, 2018
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Sound like you need some Tech Yes Luvin!
Brake Cleaner and WD40. I never ever would have thought of those. Have you actually tried this? Once the brake cleaner loosens up the dirt, I assume it needs to run or get shaken off? Otherwise it would just evaporate with the dirt still on the surface, right?
 

vudu

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Dec 30, 2017
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Brake Cleaner and WD40. I never ever would have thought of those.
Yes but not to this extent

In some videos I have seen Bryan use soapy water after loosening the dirt. My take away is that whatever sticks the dirt to the part needs to be dissolved then the dirt can be wiped or "floated" off. WD40 provides some photogenic marketing shine. This guy refurbs and flips PC's for a living (mostly). Likely quite the authority.
 
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Markess

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May 19, 2018
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Yes but not to this extent

In some videos I have seen Bryan use soapy water after loosening the dirt. My take away is that whatever sticks the dirt to the part needs to be dissolved then the dirt can be wiped or "floated" off. WD40 provides some photogenic marketing shine. This guy refurbs and flips PC's for a living (mostly). Likely quite the authority.
Okay, that makes more sense. Something to loosen the dirt and then wiping it away. I've got an air compressor I use with pneumatic tools (Nailer, stapler, etc) that I could hit things with after the dirt is loose and the cleaner still wet. The liquid would fly everywhere, so I suppose I'd need to do it outside, but it would probably help carry away the last stubborn film and build-up in the nooks and crannies. Better than trying to get it with an alcohol soaked Q-tip.

I suppose "sacrificial" CPU(s) to protect the socket(s) would be a good idea too.
 

Markess

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May 19, 2018
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I...I....I.....um.....wow.

Now, I think I might have to try that. Not with actual hardware I want to keep. Something old I was going to recycle maybe. Just to see if it would work.

I'm sure if I made sure to let the wife and kids know I was doing it, the look on their faces would be fun too.

Shelter in Place entertainment at its best!