I just finished cleaning up the fans on my old PC. Here’s what my PC fan looked like before compared to what it looks like now.
In this article, I’ll use the same approach to guide you on how to clean your computer fans.
It may not be possible to clean up every surface of the fans and some dust may still remain.
Prepare the tools below, move your PC case to a clean workbench, and get ready to clean your case fans.
- Compressed air spray can (recommended), or brush
- Microfiber or any lint-free cleaning cloth
- Cotton swabs
- 70% isopropyl alcohol (If the fans are very dirty)
- Mask and/or goggles (to protect your nose and eyes)
Open the PC and Disconnect Case Fans
First, open the PC case by removing the side panels to access the case fans. You should also disconnect the fans before cleaning them to be on the safe side.
Otherwise, if the fan rotates, its motor can generate some current and damage the motherboard components.
The entire process goes as follows:
- Power off your computer and unplug all connected devices. Disconnect its power supply as well.
- Unscrew the left side panel of the PC case and slide it off or take it out. Some PC cases may need different steps. So, if you encounter any issues, check the user manual or teardown videos.
- Unplug the PC fan cables from the motherboard or the fan controller.
- For front or top panel fans, you may need to remove their panels to be able to clean the fans from both sides.
You may need to remove other panels depending on where you have mounted the fan controller.
Note: If you configured different speeds for different PC fans, note where each fan cable goes before disconnecting them.
Whenever I need to remove any cables, I usually take a picture beforehand or record the whole process in a video to avoid any mistakes.
Clean the Fans
Now, clean all the fans in your PC using the steps below. You won’t need to remove them from the PC case unless they are extremely dusty.
- First, use a compressed air can to clean the case fans. Take note of the following things while doing so:
- Clean from the inside first to get most of the dust outside.
- An air can contains a refrigerant liquid inside and sprays its vapor from the nozzle. So avoid tilting or shaking the air can as doing so may spray the liquid instead.
- Hold the fan blades while applying the air. If the fan rotates due to the compressed air, it can damage its bearings and motor.
- Spray in short bursts. A prolonged stream of cold air can cause water vapor to condense on the fans and the PC.
- Use different angles to blow the air to as much surface of the fan as possible.
- Do not use a vacuum cleaner, hair dryer, or any electrical device that blows out air. These devices may generate static electricity, which damages the internal PC components.
- If you don’t have a compressed air can, use a brush (preferably a silicone blower) to remove the dust. But it’s always best to get a good compressed air spray can, whenever possible.
- If there are any stuck gunks, use a cotton swab dipped in 70% isopropyl alcohol to clean them. You can also use the same to clean all nooks and corners.
- Then, wipe the fan housing, the PC case, and the panels using a microfiber cloth.
- You should also remove any dust filters covering the case fans and spray them with compressed air in a different location. You can also use a vacuum cleaner for the dust filters.
- Finally, use compressed air over the whole inside of the PC to remove any dust accumulated while cleaning the fans.
Extra Tip: Remove and Clean Case Fans
If you can’t reach all the surface of the fan, especially without the compressed air can, unscrew and remove the case fan. Then, clean it properly in the same way before reattaching it.
After cleaning the PC fans, you may also want to clean other PC components if they are dusty. Check out our dedicated guides if you need extra help:
- How to Clean CPU Cooler
- How to Clean AIO Radiator
- How to Clean RAM
- How to Clean the Power Supply Unit
- How to Clean Graphics Card
- How to Clean a Motherboard