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How to Clean a Computer Fans

If your computer is making a lot of noise or is running slowly as it tries to work, the possible cause could be dust buildup. This affects mainly a hardware component living inside of your case, the fan, that will likely need a bit of cleaning up. A simple cleaning process can help improve your computer’s life expectancy and performance. In this article, you will learn how to clean computer fans.

 Depending on your specific cleaning needs, you don’t need to have all of the following tools. 

  • A screwdriver (this is really only needed to open the computer case) 
  • A can of compressed air
  • A small vacuum cleaner
  • A damp cloth 
  • Cotton swabs
  • Isopropyl alcohol

Canned compressed air 

Canned compressed air is specially made for cleaning small, electronic parts. It is static-free, so it reduces the risk of damage to important computer electrical components. A few blasts of compressed air can remove most loose dust for virtually any PC fan (heat sink fans, graphics card fans, case fans, or power supply fans). You can find compressed air for PC here.

Small vacuum cleaner

A small vacuum cleaner is the second choice. It will speed up the removal of dust and dirt. This cleaning tool reduces static electricity generation and helps protect the CPU fan and other sensitive components inside your computer case. If you want to proceed using an electronic vacuum clear, make sure to remove the CPU fan from the computer to avoid damage. Don’t use the vacuum directly on the interior of your case, as there is a real risk of static damage. the wall since it may generate electrostatic discharge and cause permanent damage. 

Damp cloth

Simplified but effective cleaning using a damp cloth. If the computer is around a smoker, it is recommended to use a damp cloth to rub down dirt and dust from the CPU fan. It’s best to detach the fan from the CPU and use a damp cloth for a more thorough cleaning.

Cotton swabs

For a CPU fan that is gunked up with dirt and dust, you may use a cotton swab soaked in isopropyl alcohol. The alcohol effectively removes the sticky gunk that has collected on the fan blades.

Clean a Computer Fans – Quick Steps

  1. Turn off your computer.
  2. Disconnect the power cable or AC adapter
  3. Open the computer case
  4. Remove the CPU fan so that both sides of the fan can be cleaned.
  5. Spray compressed air with short bursts of air
  6. Check that your fan is working properly (or replace it)

Use a pen or pencil to keep the fan blades still while cleaning with compressed air. Slowly spray compressed air to remove the dust that has collected on the CPU fan, on the heat sink that is located below the fan, and on the grills. Make sure to orient the CPU in a way that the dust and dirt from the fan escape freely and do not move to other parts of the CPU case. Keep your hands a few inches from the processors, memory,  motherboard, and expansion cards.

A quick manual check: give the fan a quick spin to make sure that the blades are moving freely. 

Put everything back together and turn on your computer. You’re looking to see whether the fan spins normally and works quietly. If it doesn’t spin after cleaning or it still makes noise it may be time to replace it with a brand-new, updated CPU fan.

Monitor your CPU and GPU temperatures to make sure everything’s working normally.

While cleaning your CPU fan, you’ll notice an accumulation of dust at the bottom of the CPU case. You already have the cleaning tools to clean this part of your computer, too.  Use compressed air to remove the dust away from the case and wipe the bottom of the case with a damp cloth.

Quick Dust Build-up Prevention Tips  

  1. Environment temperature and proper positioning will improve the overall performance of your computer. If you want to do this cleaning operation less often or if you simply want your PC to function optimally, transfer your PC setup to a cooler spot in your room.  A fan that always suffers from overheating issues is more likely to collect dust, dirt, and other particles.
  2. Clean the CPU fan every 3 to 6 months to ensure optimum performance for your computer.
  3. Add a Computer Dust Filter.


If you don’t clean your PC fan, dust and debris will accumulate around. This can cause your computer to overheat and reduce the life expectancy of your device or damage internal components like the CPU, video card,  and motherboard.  These cleaning steps will make your PC perform like new. Regularly clean the CPU fan every 3 to 6 months to ensure optimum performance for your computer.

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