Basic PC Maintenance (Hardware) – WHS 7

PC maintenance is essential for making sure you have a smooth-running computer. Today on The Wired Homeschool I discuss the necessary hardware maintenance that everyone should be doing to keep their computer healthy.

Please note: before cleaning any part of your computer you should make sure it is turned off and unplugged.

Keyboard and Mouse

The keyboard and mouse are the two components that you touch the most. Each of these items get a lot of grime and gunk from your hands and the environment.

The first thing you want to do with your keyboard is shake it out every two or three weeks. This dislodge dust, staples, food, and anything else that accumulates inside your keyboard. You may also want to use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner and pass it over the keyboard a few times.

Never wash your keyboard in the dishwasher! There are a lot of stories and anecdotes on the Internet about people washing their keyboards in the dishwasher but this could potentially ruin it.

The mouse doesn’t require as much maintenance as in the past. Older mice have a ball and rollers inside them that needs to be cleaned every once in a while. Now all you need to do is keep the optical sensor clear of dust and dirt.


The monitor is the window to your computing world and you’ll want a clear view of the technical landscape as you sit at your desk. Please note: you should never use glass cleaner or any cleaner with ammonia in it to clean your monitor. These cleaners will strip the anti-glare coating from your monitor over time and make it very difficult to view.

Instead you can use a lint-free cloth or paper towel moistened with water to remove fingerprints and dust from the monitor. That’s really all you need. If you have an stubborn fingerprints on your monitor use a cleaner designed for LCD monitors or HD TVs.

Never spray any water or chemical directly on your monitor. You should always apply the cleaner to your cloth before wiping the monitor.

If you have an old CRT monitor you should never stack anything on top of it. This blocks the ventilation slots and can cause your monitor to overheat. LCD monitors have ventilation slots too so make sure those are clear of dust bunnies.


Printers can get pretty nasty. Laser printers can accumulate toner inside of them, especially if you’re using cheap or refilled toner cartridges (which I highly discourage you from using). Get out the vacuum and gently clean out the inside. Make sure you put your toner cartridge in a box to prevent the light from damaging the imaging drum.

Ink jet printers sometimes need the print heads cleaned. Most printers have the ports built-in to the cartridge itself and don’t require any maintenance other than running the cartridge cleaning utility. If you do have separate inkjet ports you can usually soak them in alcohol or ammonia.

PC Case

Your PC’s case is the most important thing that needs to be kept clean. Dust acts as a insulator and can cook the components inside your computer. You want to be very careful cleaning inside your PC. If you’re uncomfortable with this part. Ask a friend who is a techie to help you.

You’ll want to vacuum out the fans and any ventilation slots. Get that dust out! Be gentle and careful vacuuming the motherboard. You may even want to get an attachment specifically designed for use on a computer for this, possibly even a vacuum cleaner designed for computers.

I do not recommend using compressed air inside your computer’s case. It can shove dust under the components. If you have some fans that vacuuming couldn’t clean, remove them from the case and use the compressed air outside and away from the computer. If you must use compressed air, turn the computer so that any dislodged dust falls out of the computer.


If you’d like to leave feedback about this or any other episode you can call and leave a voice mail by calling 518-290-0228, send email  to feedback@thewiredhomeschool, or leave a comment on the blog. Follow me on Twitter: @jwilkers. Also follow the podcast on Twitter: @wiredhs. Join the Facebook page over at

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