How to Clean a Printer

by: Ray Geide

Does your printer have frequent paper jams? Does it put ink where ink shouldn’t be? Is the outside of your printer dirty or covered with smudges? If so, it is time to clean your printer.

First, there are some general rules that apply to cleaning just about any electrical device. It is best to turn off the printer before cleaning it. Do not spray water or cleaner on or in the printer. Instead wet the rag with it and clean the printer with the rag.

Different types of printers require different cleaning methods. So if you can get your hands on cleaning instructions for your make and model of printer, do so and follow them. Unfortunately, many manufacturers only make that kind of information available to their licensed technicians. In that case, you are stuck with these instructions, so read on.

Open up your printer and take a look.

If you have an ink jet printer and there is an ink mess inside, clean it up with wet paper towels.

If you have a printer that uses toner either vacuum or blow it out. Some toner, especially color toner, can be harmful to you, so only use a vacuum with a micro-toner filter or blow and run. Figure out where the drum is (it is shiny and larger in diameter than the rollers) and do not touch or scratch it. If you do, the scratches will turn up as marks on every paper that you print and will require that you replace the drum (not a cheap option) to fix it.

Examine the path that the paper takes through the printer. Clean all of the rollers (but on a toner printer, not the drum or rollers near the drum and watch out for the rollers after the drum because they may be hot). It may take some disassembly and/or contorting of your arm to get to some of the rollers. Access is not always easy. The most important rollers to clean are the ones which pick up the paper from the paper bin and transfer it into the printer. If these rollers are dirty or bad, they will cause consistent paper jams.

The rollers are made of either hard plastic or rubber. All of the rollers can be cleaned with water or rubbing alcohol. If the rubber rollers have deposits that you can’t get off, you can use harsher cleaners but be careful because those cleaners can damage the plastic rollers and parts.

To clean a roller, wipe across the roller with a wet rag, rotate the roller, and wipe again. Do this until you have worked your way all the way around the roller. Look at the rag. If it has been blackened by the roller, move to a clean part of the rag and clean the roller again.

Once everything is clean on the inside, close it up and clean the outside. Wipe off the case and each of the buttons or knobs. If there are staples or paper clips sitting on it or wedged in the cracks, remove them and throw them away.

Other areas of the printer can be cleaned but to do so, you will have to either get training and special tools or leave it to a trained professional.

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How to Clean your Mouse

by: Ray Geide

If your mouse is working sluggishly or not at all, don’t go out and buy another cheap mouse. The cause is probably just a dirty mouse. A quick cleaning could fix the problem.

First, you need to identify which kind of mouse you have. If you turn your mouse over and part of a ball is showing, you have a ball mouse. If you see a lens, you have an optical or laser mouse. Each type of mouse requires a different type of cleaning.

The optical or laser mouse does not need to be cleaned near as often as the ball mouse, but it and the surface it runs on can still get dirty. If you do not clean the surface that the mouse moves on, it will soon turn black. So about once a month or so, wipe the surface off with a wet rag. The lens probably never will get dirty, but if it does, take a soft cloth, cotton swab, or q-tip wetted with window cleaner or alcohol and clean the lens.

The ball mouse may need cleaning quite often, so you should get well acquainted with the following cleaning procedure. The dirtier the ball mouse gets, the harder it is to get it to move the cursor on the screen smoothly. If you have to move the mouse across the mouse pad several times to get the cursor to move halfway across the screen, it needs to be cleaned.

The mouse does not need to be disconnected to clean it, but you should close all of the programs that are running, so that you don’t accidentally click on something and mess it up. If you do decide to disconnect the mouse, be sure to turn off the computer first. The mouse cord should never be unplugged from the computer while it is running. Doing so could ruin your motherboard.

Turn the ball mouse over and find the cover that holds the ball in. Look for arrows on the cover to show which way it needs to be turned. Place two fingers on the cover and push in the direction of the arrows. Once the cover has been turned about an inch, cover it with your hand and turn the mouse back over to the upright position. The ball and cover should fall into your hand. If it doesn’t, shake the mouse gently.

Wipe the ball off with a wet rag.

Now look in the ball well and find the three rollers. Start by cutting across the buildup on the rollers with your fingernail (a knife or steel dental pick may also be used gently), then turn the roller and remove the buildup as you go along. If you do this correctly, you will end up with one curled strip of buildup for each roller. Make sure to remove the buildup from the well. If it falls inside somewhere, blow and gently shake it until it comes out.

Take a wet rag and clean each of the rollers by wiping across it, then turning it and wiping again. Continue until the entire roller is cleaned. Put the ball back in the ball well and lock the cover back in place.

If the mouse still has problems once it is assembled, try cleaning it again. If that doesn’t work, you may need to buy a new mouse.

It is a good idea to regularly clean the surface that the mouse is on because the cleaner the surface, the less dirt will get inside the mouse and the less often you will have to clean it.

If your mouse is shared by many people (especially if one of them is sick), you may want to disinfect the top of the mouse between users.

Follow these instructions and your mouse will be up and darting again in no time.

How to clean your Mother Board

by: Ray Geide

If you have not done the inspection mentioned in the previous article – How to Clean your Case, now is the time to do so. Look at the blades of the fan in the back of the computer. Also look at any vents. Is there clusters of dust there? Is there grime caked on to it? If so, the inside needs to be cleaned. If the fan blades are clean but it has been several years since you have cleaned the motherboard or if the computer is around cigarette smoke, it probably should be cleaned anyway. Dust and particles in the air (like cigarette smoke) can build up on the circuitry of the motherboard and cause it to heat up and/or corrode.

The first thing that you need to do is unplug your computer. Then open up the case to get access to the motherboard. Cases open differently. If you don’t know how to open your case, look on the back of your computer along the edge for some screws. These screws may hold on side panels or an upside down U shaped panel that covers the sides and top. Removing the screws will allow you to take off the cover. Other cases have the screws on the front of the computer. To get access to these screws, you must first remove the front panel by pressing a hidden latch. The cover is there to give easy access to the inside of your computer, so if you look hard enough, you should be able to figure out how to remove it.

Remember that if you touch anything on the motherboard, you should be grounded by either touching the metal frame of the computer with your other hand or by wearing a special grounding device.

The goal of cleaning the motherboard is to remove all dust and debris from the motherboard and all components inside of the case. This can be done using one of three methods.

The preferred method is to use a can of compressed air to blow it out. Always hold the can in an up-right position to prevent the propellent chemicals which can damage or corrode components from coming out. Dust and dirt should be blown away from the motherboard and out of the case.

Another way to remove dust is to use a vacuum. The common advice is to only use a battery operated vacuum because an AC powered vacuum causes static and static can ruin the motherboard. I have used an AC powered vacuum (before I knew that it was not recommended) to clean my motherboard many times and it has never caused any problems, but I may have just been lucky. When using the vacuum, keep the nozzle a couple of inches away from the motherboard or any other components so that it does not come in contact with them and so that any small parts are not sucked into the vacuum.

If you do not have a can of compressed air or a vacuum, you can use a dry cloth and brush to clean the motherboard. Be careful not to dislodge or break anything using this method.

While cleaning the motherboard, be careful not to unplug any cables or connections or to dislodge any loose components, such as, jumpers.

Methodically clean the whole inside of the case going over all of the motherboard from one end to the other and all other components. Don’t forget to clean the fans and heat sinks. Do not open up the power supply box or stick anything in it beyond the fan. If you do, you could get a shocking surprise and ruin your computer.

If your computer does not work when you put it back together, something was obviously dislodged during the cleaning. Open the case back up and push all connections and cards into their slots. Look for anything that may have become disconnected.

Cleaning the motherboard is probably the most dangerous form of cleaning but it is necessary to prevent an early death of your computer.

How To clean your Case

by: Ray Geide

There is nothing wrong with leaving spills, dirt, and stains on your computer case. After all isn’t that what the case is for, to protect the electronic components inside from spills and dirt? This is true, but there are still parts of the case that need to be cleaned and checked if you want your computer to live a long and prosperous life.

Unless you like looking at dirt everytime you look at your computer, you should go ahead and clean those spills, stains, and dust off of the case. You can do this with just about any cloth and cleaner. Do not use highly abrasive cleaners that might ruin or mar the surface and do not use solvents on plastic. A wet sponge will even work. Just make sure that the cleaner or any liquid does not seep into the inside through cracks and vents. If there is any possibility that you are going to get that messy, turn off and unplug the computer first and wait to turn it back on until any liquid has had a chance to fully dry.

After you have wiped off the outside, it is time for a little inspection. Look at the blades of the fan in the back of the computer. Also look at any vents. Is there dust there? Is there a lot of dust and grime caked on to it? If so, that is an indicator that the inside also needs to be cleaned (I will tell you how to do that in next week’s article – How to Clean your Motherboard).

Some clean environments never have to have the inside cleaned. Some need it cleaned monthly. When I lived in Russia, even though I didn’t notice it, the air was not clean. The fan on the computer would cake up with dirt and grime after about a month of use. And so I would have to clean the fan, vents, and inside monthly. If I had let it go for several months without cleaning, the fan would have stopped working and the computer would have overheated. Where I now live in the US, the air is clean and I have gone years without having to clean it. Again, the indicator of this is the blades of the fan and the vents. If they are dirty, they need to be cleaned.

You can do some of the cleaning from the outside. First, turn off the computer. Then get out the vacuum sweeper and using the hose, vacuum out the vents and the fan(s). If you have compressed air (you can purchase compressed air from your computer store), you may want to blow air in through the vents (or intake fan if you have one) to loosen the dust and suck it out using the vacuum. If there is still dust or dirt in the vents or on the blades of the fan, you can use a Q-tip to clean them.

If you do not have a vaccum, you can use compressed air alone. Always use short bursts to avoid moisture buildup. Start with the computer off and blow into every hole and vent. Then turn the computer on and blow everything except for the exhaust fan once again.

With the case clean, your computer will look nicer and with the fan and vents cleaned out it will breathe easier and run cooler.
There is nothing wrong with leaving spills, dirt, and stains on your computer case. After all isn’t that what the case is for, to protect the electronic components inside from spills and dirt? This is true, but there are still parts of the case that need to be cleaned and checked if you want your computer to live a long and prosperous life.

Unless you like looking at dirt everytime you look at your computer, you should go ahead and clean those spills, stains, and dust off of the case. You can do this with just about any cloth and cleaner. Do not use highly abrasive cleaners that might ruin or mar the surface and do not use solvents on plastic. A wet sponge will even work. Just make sure that the cleaner or any liquid does not seep into the inside through cracks and vents. If there is any possibility that you are going to get that messy, turn off and unplug the computer first and wait to turn it back on until any liquid has had a chance to fully dry.

After you have wiped off the outside, it is time for a little inspection. Look at the blades of the fan in the back of the computer. Also look at any vents. Is there dust there? Is there a lot of dust and grime caked on to it? If so, that is an indicator that the inside also needs to be cleaned (I will tell you how to do that in next week’s article – How to Clean your Motherboard).

Some clean environments never have to have the inside cleaned. Some need it cleaned monthly. When I lived in Russia, even though I didn’t notice it, the air was not clean. The fan on the computer would cake up with dirt and grime after about a month of use. And so I would have to clean the fan, vents, and inside monthly. If I had let it go for several months without cleaning, the fan would have stopped working and the computer would have overheated. Where I now live in the US, the air is clean and I have gone years without having to clean it. Again, the indicator of this is the blades of the fan and the vents. If they are dirty, they need to be cleaned.

You can do some of the cleaning from the outside. First, turn off the computer. Then get out the vacuum sweeper and using the hose, vacuum out the vents and the fan(s). If you have compressed air (you can purchase compressed air from your computer store), you may want to blow air in through the vents (or intake fan if you have one) to loosen the dust and suck it out using the vacuum. If there is still dust or dirt in the vents or on the blades of the fan, you can use a Q-tip to clean them.

If you do not have a vaccum, you can use compressed air alone. Always use short bursts to avoid moisture buildup. Start with the computer off and blow into every hole and vent. Then turn the computer on and blow everything except for the exhaust fan once again.

With the case clean, your computer will look nicer and with the fan and vents cleaned out it will breathe easier and run cooler.
There is nothing wrong with leaving spills, dirt, and stains on your computer case. After all isn’t that what the case is for, to protect the electronic components inside from spills and dirt? This is true, but there are still parts of the case that need to be cleaned and checked if you want your computer to live a long and prosperous life.

Unless you like looking at dirt everytime you look at your computer, you should go ahead and clean those spills, stains, and dust off of the case. You can do this with just about any cloth and cleaner. Do not use highly abrasive cleaners that might ruin or mar the surface and do not use solvents on plastic. A wet sponge will even work. Just make sure that the cleaner or any liquid does not seep into the inside through cracks and vents. If there is any possibility that you are going to get that messy, turn off and unplug the computer first and wait to turn it back on until any liquid has had a chance to fully dry.

After you have wiped off the outside, it is time for a little inspection. Look at the blades of the fan in the back of the computer. Also look at any vents. Is there dust there? Is there a lot of dust and grime caked on to it? If so, that is an indicator that the inside also needs to be cleaned (I will tell you how to do that in next week’s article – How to Clean your Motherboard).

Some clean environments never have to have the inside cleaned. Some need it cleaned monthly. When I lived in Russia, even though I didn’t notice it, the air was not clean. The fan on the computer would cake up with dirt and grime after about a month of use. And so I would have to clean the fan, vents, and inside monthly. If I had let it go for several months without cleaning, the fan would have stopped working and the computer would have overheated. Where I now live in the US, the air is clean and I have gone years without having to clean it. Again, the indicator of this is the blades of the fan and the vents. If they are dirty, they need to be cleaned.

You can do some of the cleaning from the outside. First, turn off the computer. Then get out the vacuum sweeper and using the hose, vacuum out the vents and the fan(s). If you have compressed air (you can purchase compressed air from your computer store), you may want to blow air in through the vents (or intake fan if you have one) to loosen the dust and suck it out using the vacuum. If there is still dust or dirt in the vents or on the blades of the fan, you can use a Q-tip to clean them.

If you do not have a vaccum, you can use compressed air alone. Always use short bursts to avoid moisture buildup. Start with the computer off and blow into every hole and vent. Then turn the computer on and blow everything except for the exhaust fan once again.

With the case clean, your computer will look nicer and with the fan and vents cleaned out it will breathe easier and run cooler.

How to Clean your Keyboard-Part 2

by: Ray Geide

When it comes to cleaning your keyboard there are many methods that can be used, some harder and more effective than others.

The easiest method is the Shake Method. It is so easy that you can do it right now. Pick up your keyboard, turn it over being careful not to press any keys, and shake it. See all of that stuff fall out? It is dirtier than you thought, isn’t it? You can use one of the following methods to clean it further.

The Blow Method – You can buy cans of pressurized air at the computer department or computer store which are made especially for cleaning your computer. They usually have either a hose and nozzle or a tube extending from the nozzle. Hold the keyboard up vertically (that means that end of the keyboard is up and the other end is down), aim towards the keys and press the button. Keep blowing until all of the debris is blown out. Be sure to get around and in between all of the keys. This can be done with the computer on, but it is better if it is off so that you do not have to worry about pressing the keys and coming up with a page of aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’s.

The Vacuum Method – This is just like the Blow Method except that a vacuum is used instead of a can of pressurized air. It is quite simple. Just turn the vacuum on, pull out the hose, and run the nozzle over the keys. Before doing this make sure your keyboard does not have any loose pop off keys that could be sucked into the vacuum.

The Cotton Ball Method – This can be done in addition to the above methods and in lieu of the following methods. Take a cotton ball or cloth and wet it with rubbing alcohol. It should not be so wet that the alcohol runs down into the cracks of the keyboard. Wipe the tops and sides of the keys.

The Dishwasher Method – I hesitate to tell about this method because there is the possibility that it could fry your keyboard. When I had less experience with computers, I dunked my keyboard in a sink full of water to clean it. It did work afterwards, so I don’t doubt those who say this method will not mess up your keyboard, but if it does, don’t complain to me. I warned you. If your keyboard is not the standard membrane type of keyboard or if it is on a laptop, do not even think of trying this.

This is how you do it. Unplug the keyboard and place it face down in an empty dishwasher. Do not disassemble the keyboard and do not put it in a dishwasher that has dirty dishes in it. Some say to add soap, some say not to. Run the dishwasher through a regular cycle. Take the keyboard out, shake the water out, and stand it on end until it is completely dry (this may take several days). If it does not work after doing this, it may not be dry. Let it stand another week and try it again. If it still does not work, I warned you.

The Disassembly Method – This is the most thorough method, but it should not be done on laptop keyboards or non-standard non-membrane keyboards.

Turn off the computer and unplug the keyboard. Turn the keyboard upside down. You may want to get two books or short boards to place the keyboard on. Position them so that they hold up the keyboard on the edges when it is turned over. This should leave the keys dangling and not touching the books or the floor. This is especially needed when the keyboard’s back is off; otherwise the keys will be lifted out of their position by the floor (or whatever surface it is laying on).

Get a screwdriver and remove all of the screws from the back of the keyboard. Lay the keyboard down on the books and carefully remove the back.

Take everything apart and clean thoroughly. It is better to take the keys out one at a time and clean them so that you do not put them back in the wrong place. Wipe each one down with a wet cloth and then with a dry cloth. Any keys that may be hard to put back in, can be cleaned in place without removing them. Wipe around the keys as they sit in place and blow any debris out with your lungs (using compressed air or a vacuum may upset the keys). If you are really brave, you can remove all of the keys at once and give the frame a good wipe down too.

Do a once over and make sure that you have cleaned everything. Then reassemble it all.

Don’t forget the keyboard’s cable. Wrap a wet cloth around it and wipe it down. It may have an accumulation of grime that needs to be scrubbed off. Also if any of the letters on the keys have rubbed off, you can use a fine point permanent marker to draw the letter back on the key.

Use these cleaning methods and your keyboard will last a long time and be something you can be proud of.
When it comes to cleaning your keyboard there are many methods that can be used, some harder and more effective than others.

The easiest method is the Shake Method. It is so easy that you can do it right now. Pick up your keyboard, turn it over being careful not to press any keys, and shake it. See all of that stuff fall out? It is dirtier than you thought, isn’t it? You can use one of the following methods to clean it further.

The Blow Method – You can buy cans of pressurized air at the computer department or computer store which are made especially for cleaning your computer. They usually have either a hose and nozzle or a tube extending from the nozzle. Hold the keyboard up vertically (that means that end of the keyboard is up and the other end is down), aim towards the keys and press the button. Keep blowing until all of the debris is blown out. Be sure to get around and in between all of the keys. This can be done with the computer on, but it is better if it is off so that you do not have to worry about pressing the keys and coming up with a page of aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’s.

The Vacuum Method – This is just like the Blow Method except that a vacuum is used instead of a can of pressurized air. It is quite simple. Just turn the vacuum on, pull out the hose, and run the nozzle over the keys. Before doing this make sure your keyboard does not have any loose pop off keys that could be sucked into the vacuum.

The Cotton Ball Method – This can be done in addition to the above methods and in lieu of the following methods. Take a cotton ball or cloth and wet it with rubbing alcohol. It should not be so wet that the alcohol runs down into the cracks of the keyboard. Wipe the tops and sides of the keys.

The Dishwasher Method – I hesitate to tell about this method because there is the possibility that it could fry your keyboard. When I had less experience with computers, I dunked my keyboard in a sink full of water to clean it. It did work afterwards, so I don’t doubt those who say this method will not mess up your keyboard, but if it does, don’t complain to me. I warned you. If your keyboard is not the standard membrane type of keyboard or if it is on a laptop, do not even think of trying this.

This is how you do it. Unplug the keyboard and place it face down in an empty dishwasher. Do not disassemble the keyboard and do not put it in a dishwasher that has dirty dishes in it. Some say to add soap, some say not to. Run the dishwasher through a regular cycle. Take the keyboard out, shake the water out, and stand it on end until it is completely dry (this may take several days). If it does not work after doing this, it may not be dry. Let it stand another week and try it again. If it still does not work, I warned you.

The Disassembly Method – This is the most thorough method, but it should not be done on laptop keyboards or non-standard non-membrane keyboards.

Turn off the computer and unplug the keyboard. Turn the keyboard upside down. You may want to get two books or short boards to place the keyboard on. Position them so that they hold up the keyboard on the edges when it is turned over. This should leave the keys dangling and not touching the books or the floor. This is especially needed when the keyboard’s back is off; otherwise the keys will be lifted out of their position by the floor (or whatever surface it is laying on).

Get a screwdriver and remove all of the screws from the back of the keyboard. Lay the keyboard down on the books and carefully remove the back.

Take everything apart and clean thoroughly. It is better to take the keys out one at a time and clean them so that you do not put them back in the wrong place. Wipe each one down with a wet cloth and then with a dry cloth. Any keys that may be hard to put back in, can be cleaned in place without removing them. Wipe around the keys as they sit in place and blow any debris out with your lungs (using compressed air or a vacuum may upset the keys). If you are really brave, you can remove all of the keys at once and give the frame a good wipe down too.

Do a once over and make sure that you have cleaned everything. Then reassemble it all.

Don’t forget the keyboard’s cable. Wrap a wet cloth around it and wipe it down. It may have an accumulation of grime that needs to be scrubbed off. Also if any of the letters on the keys have rubbed off, you can use a fine point permanent marker to draw the letter back on the key.

Use these cleaning methods and your keyboard will last a long time and be something you can be proud of.

How to Clean your Keyboard- Part 1How to Clean your Keyboard- Part 1

by: Ray Geide

I know most of you will not heed this advice, but KEYBOARDS CAN MAKE YOU SICK (how’s that for tactfulness?). Germs live on your hands and fingers. When you type, many of them jump on to the keyboard. When someone else types on your keyboard, those germs transfer to their fingers. Or when you later type on the same keyboard, those germs reconquer your fingers. Regularly disinfecting the keyboard can prevent this.

To disinfect the keyboard, turn off the computer. Then spray disinfectant on a cloth. Be sure to use disinfectant and not just any type of cleaner because not all cleaners disinfect. Also do not spray the disinfectent directly on the keys. Spray it on the cloth. Wipe down the top and sides of the keys. Give the keys a few minutes to dry off before turning the computer back on.

Now that you know how to do it, you should make it a regular practice to disinfect the keyboard. It’s one step towards a healthier you.

So you have your keyboard disinfected and life is great. Then your child spills koolaide all over it. What do you do? There are certain steps that you should take when something, like pop, beer, wine, coffee, milk, or kool-aide, is spilled on the keyboard.

The first thing to do is immediately unplug the keyboard from the back of the computer and turn the keyboard over so that its keys are down. This will allow the liquid to drain out. You will probably want to put a cloth under the keyboard or at least make sure that the surface you have put it on is washable.

Then use the mouse to shut down Windows and turn off the computer (this is important because later you will have to plug the keyboard back into the computer and you should never plug any device into a computer while it is on).

While the keyboard is upside down use a cloth to dry as much of the liquid off as you can. If you have a can of compressed air or a vacuum, while the keyboard is upside down blow or vacuum it out. Then let the keyboard set upside down for at least a night so that it can adequately dry out.

If the liquid that spilled on it was sticky, you may want to follow the extensive cleaning procedure explained in the next article, How to Clean your Keyboard – Part 2.

Liquid spilled on a laptop keyboard can easily reach the hard drive, so turn it over immediately and leave it in that position until it dries.

Keyboards are quite resilient and so it should work when you turn it on again. But if not, another attribute of keyboards is that they are cheap and so it won’t cost too much to buy another one.

With these pointers in mind and a quick reaction, you just may save your keyboard from total destruction the next time it gets coated with coffee.