How to clean your laptop of dust and dirt

Again, refer to your service manual for full details of the procedure, which will differ depending on your laptop's internal configuration. If you omit this essential stage, your laptop may overheat and shut down. In a worst-case scenario, the machine may refuse to power up at all.

Heat sink

The next step depends on the kind of heat sink used in your machine. If it's a classic, fin-style heat sink, then you can clean it in place without removing it. The dust on the heat sink could be compressed enough for you to pick it free with your tweezers in one fluffy, continuous wad. A bit of clean up with compressed air and the soft brush should complete the job.

heatsink 2

Often, the heat sink and fan are part of an integrated unit in one casing. In this event, check your service manual for removal instructions, because hard-to-reach dust can get clogged up under this cover and in vents.

A third, common heat sink configuration uses a pipe to vent hot air away to a fan from a flat or fin-style heat sink. If this is the case, once again, it may be better if you remove the component to clean out any dust that's become trapped around and under it.

Fans and vents

As for case fans, these can be removed and the blades wiped clean with cotton buds. It's never a good idea to blow compressed air into them, because they may be forced to spin in the wrong direction, damaging them.

Before you close your machine up, take a good look down the sides of the case to locate the vents and passive heat sinks. Use your can of compressed air to carefully blow dust out of the case.


Finally, take a tour of the ports around the machine. Angle the compressed air nozzle to blow dust out of them, taking care not to blow it deeper in.

Reassemble your machine carefully and you'll be able to enjoy a noticeably faster, cooler running notebook.


First published in PC Plus Issue 306. Read PC Plus on PC, Mac and iPad

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