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7 Reasons You Need To Clean Your Laptop ASAP

Dirt, dust, and grime—oh my! If you never clean your laptop, you're doing your health (and the health of your computer) a huge disservice. You'll want to give your laptop a nice scrub after you finish reading this—make that before.

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You could get sick

Much like on doorknobs and light switches, the grime that accumulates on our laptops often goes unnoticed and, therefore, uncleaned. But believe it or not, our grossest habits (think: eating at our desks and forgetting to wash our hands) transfers tons of germs and bacteria to our laptops the minute we put our fingers on the keyboard. As mighty as they are invisible, once those germs are allowed to grow and build up on your computer, they can make you more likely to get sick. In fact, a British study shows that keyboards swabbed at an average London office had more harmful bacteria than a toilet seat. Why? The survey found that most users cleaned their keyboards infrequently (if at all), and cleaned their mouses even less often. Yuck! To keep the germs away, use a soft, damp microfiber cloth to wipe the screen and clean the keyboard at least once every other week.

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Your laptop could overheat

Dust is way more than a simple nuisance around the house; it can also clog up the fans and vents inside your laptop, preventing it from cooling down properly. Overheating, in turn, can wreak havoc on the hardware inside and ultimately spell demise for your dear MAC or PC. To deep clean the fans and vents, power down your laptop and remove the battery, and then take it to a spot that you don’t mind getting dusty. If your laptop has a bottom panel, unscrew it and use a can of compressed air to blow the fans, clearing them of dust. If you can’t open your laptop, point the can of compressed air at the cooling vents and do the same thing. But beware of using too much pressure, which could damage the fans; instead, shoot short bursts from different angles into the laptop. And since this is a deep clean, you only need to do it once or twice a month, depending on the age of your laptop—the older it is, the more dust it accumulates and the more upkeep it requires.

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It could drain your laptop’s battery

When your laptop overheats, it is working that much harder to perform at maximum capacity. As a result, the fans run at full blast to keep the hardware cool, which does a number on your battery and causes it drain much faster than usual. Keeping dust out of the vents and fans will ensure that your battery stays in tip-top shape, but double check the instruction manual before taking your laptop apart to make sure you’re not violating the warranty. Does your laptop keep dying? Try these tricks to make it last longer than ever.

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Your laptop could run slower

If your laptop is overheating AND it’s running at max capacity, it will try to reduce its performance to stay cool. Translation: You could be in for many frustrating hours of refreshing the Internet, waiting for your documents to load, and staring at that dreaded rainbow-hued spinning wheel. If you don’t want to waste the time (and who does?), invest in your laptop now by cleaning the keyboard every other week and the fans at least once a month. You’re almost guaranteed to thank yourself later on.

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The keys could get stuck

Late night snackers, beware: munching on Cheetos and guzzling on caffeinated beverages as you type late into the evening is shortening the life of your laptop. Thanks to the build-up of food crumbs, dust, and grime on your keyboard, the keys can get clogged and stick when you press on them. Not only does that slow down your average words per minute, but it can also lead to more hardware problems and lots of germy residue. Like cleaning dust from your laptop’s fans, use a can of compressed air to clear out the dust, particles, and crumbs that get stuck in hard-to-reach places like the sides of the keys.

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You use your laptop almost daily

Whether you’re plugging in while on a busy commuter train or in a morning café, your laptop endures the most wear and tear out of almost all of your electronic devices. And because they’re subject to the roughest usage, they also require more cleaning than a normal computer or tablet. Think about it: If you’re schlepping along your laptop between work and home, that means it’s exposed to double the dirt and germs. All the more reason to clean your laptop regularly; you have no idea what could be lurking on and around those keys and screens.

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You could lose money

In the end, if you clean your laptop on a regular basis and maintain its internal components well, you’re almost guaranteed to extend its shelf life. Plus, not only will doing so save you thousands of dollars in refurbishments and updates, but you also won’t need a new laptop so soon down the road. Be sure your newly cleaned computer isn’t running slowly with these 10 tricks.

Brooke Nelson
Brooke Nelson is a tech and consumer products writer covering the latest in digital trends, product reviews, security and privacy, and other news and features for RD.com.