When To Vacuum vs. When To Use Compressed Air

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Most computers, appliances, and electronics get fairly hot while in operation and need sufficient air flow to keep them running efficiently. Dust is one of the biggest culprits of electrical equipment failure, due to ventilation interference and eventual overheating. While blasting with compressed air will do a quick job of clearing out the dust (and is a lot of fun), it spreads the accumulated debris directly back into the air - bad for breathing, allergies, and overall interior air quality.

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The exterior vent of my computer before vacuuming.

Use a vacuum cleaner instead of compressed air to quickly clean up dust from computers and other electronics sensitive to dust. Using compressed air on delicate electronics should only be done sparingly and mostly to dislodge larger particles; when used on dust-covered surfaces and vents, using compressed air both pollutes interior room air in plooms of disgusting dust and also finds its way blown further into the inner reaches of a computer, audio receiver, or other vented appliance.

Look how big of a difference just a few seconds of vacuuming made after cleaning the exterior fan grill covering my PC case. Just a couple of minutes and I had significantly improved not only air flow, but air quality. The same should go for air and fan vents on televisions, cable boxes, DVD/Blu-ray players, and other electronics. Use a blast of compressed air on a keyboard to dislodge food crumbs, then use a vacuum to clean up.

When to vacuum vs. when to use compressed air:


Compressed air:
keyboards to dislodge larger pieces, sealed crevices along the exterior of appliances or electronic devices, sealed exterior camera parts (lenses should be cleaned using a more delicate manual air blower)

Vacuum: vented audio, video and computer electronics, large home appliance air vents, air purifiers, fans, gaming consoles.

Ensure all computer and electronic equipment are turned off while sticking a vacuum cleaner into nooks and crannies. Consider using a HEPA grade vacuum to make sure dust particles are fully captured and not reintroduced into the interior, and/or have an air purifier nearby to capture any dust particles agitated while cleaning,

Although tiny, dust can introduce the chance of an electronic short, lower operational performance, and ruin expensive equipment if left unattended for too long. A dust free environment will not only benefit tech devices and appliances, but more importantly, your own health.

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(Images: Jason Yang)


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