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sjmc1989's avatar

Those of you that have used electronic duster before...help?

Asked by sjmc1989 (5474 points ) January 18th, 2010

I have been having several problem with my laptop and everytime I look up the issue or tell someone about my issue I keep getting that it sounds like my computer is overheating due to dust build up. So I went and bought multi purpose duster for electronics and I am reading the warnings and it is starting to scare me. I am afraid to use it on my computer even though that is the purpose, I know! What can I use it on? Can I use it on my ports and in my cd tray? Is it normal for the can to freeze your hand? Is it normal for it spray some kind of white substance all of the surface? Maybe I am thinking to hard about this, but I just don’t want to mess up my laptop more than it already is. If anyone can tell me how to properly use the duster I would appreciate it!

Ps: I read the entire can and it is not specifying what I can use it on. Thanks!

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8 Answers

scotsbloke's avatar

I use a can of spray for the laptop periodically. As long as your machine is switched off, I generally let mine cool down too so the cold isnt too much of a shock for it, and you dont blast it for too long it should be fine.
Spray into the bit where the fan sucks air in and it should force any dust and creepy gremlins out. If you have more than one fan on your laptop – then rinse and repeat! I also find a wee spray from a few inches away in the reverse direction helps to loosen build-up then back in the air intake bittie.
As for your ports and CD tray, I don’t do mine but then I don’t see much gunk in there either. Oh, and I also use mine for the keyvoard – a wee skoosh – again from a few inches away will get rid of those dust bunnies hiding in your Laptop.
It’s normal for any C02 can to get cold as you use it. Try not to spray it for much more than about 5 seconds at a time.

sjmc1989's avatar

@scotsbloke Thank you for the advice, helpful as always!

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

It won’t hurt your computer. The white powder will quickly sublimate to nothing. You can use it to blow out your keyboard and optical drive; just keep the nozzle several inches away from the surface you’re dusting. Use short bursts rather than blasts. You can blow through the fan vanes, but it will be difficult to clean out your computer thoroughly without opening it up.

Your problem is the CPU heat sink. Laptop makers do a terrific job of placing them in inaccessible places, and when they clog with dust, you pretty much have to clean them directly. Blowing a little dust out of the innards will slow down the dust buildup a bit, but eventually, someone will have to open the case and clean it out thoroughly. I have a long-running peeve with computer makers for not making laptops easier to work on. But I suppose it benefits them in the long run if people have to replace their laptops prematurely or send them in for expensive, out of warranty repairs.

Ron_C's avatar

When I first read your question I thought you mean one of those ion air cleaners and was worried that you were using something that makes static to clean your computer which also probably mean that you would have not been able to read the answer because your computer was fried.

As for the cans of CO2, they’ve been used for a long time but don’t know how effective they would be cleaning dust off the heat sinks without opening the computer. If you blow from the exhaust port, you actually force dust back inside the computer. Frankly, I don’t like to use compressed gas because it just moves dust around. If dirt is in the keyboard, blowing it down with pressure usually makes the problem worse. Personally I like to use a vacuum cleaner with a metal nozzle. Turn off the computer (but keep the grounded power cord connected and use a small soft (non-conductive) brush to loosen dirt and the vacuum to suck it away. Try not to touch circuit boards or I.C.s with the nozzle. The ground on the nozzle will reduce the chance of static created by the air flow from building up on the nozzle.

That’s how I have done it for the last 30 years and I haven’t blown up a computer yet.

sjmc1989's avatar

@IchtheosaurusRex and @Ron_C Thank you so much for your advice, but I have no idea what a heat sink is or where it is located. Do you think either one of you could walk me though opening my computer to clean this out? I would really appreciate it! I just don’t want to mess up my computer.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Ugh, opening up a laptop is not an easy job. Look on the underside for some screws recessed into the base. Remove those, as well as the battery and optical drive. There may be covers for the memory slots and the WiFi card in the base; remove those as well. This is a picture of what you might see: http://www.laptoprepair101.com/wp-images/a65/problems_1.jpg. If you can get the keyboard off, you may have access to the heat sink and the cooling fans.

See if you can find your model here: http://www.repair4laptop.org/notebook.html

They might have some additional tips on what to do.

Ron_C's avatar

@sjmc1989 there are usually repair sites for particular laptops. I suggest that you follow @IchtheosaurusRex advice and try to find a “blow up” of your particular model. Just make sure that you don’t try to “force” any thing apart, get a container for the small screws, keep your work place clean and uncluttered, and try not to spill coffee on the exposed computer boards (that’s always my problem).

LuckyGuy's avatar

I turn my laptop on its side, near the edge of the table and start at the bottom and work up. That way most of the junk blows up and out, and will land on the table where you can see it. (Oh! So that’s where I lost my keys!)

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