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cleaning a pc with air compressor


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I just bought a portable air compressor from 4WO truck parts It is for my car but I'm thinking of using it to clean my computer also since the pressure can be adjusted. Just wondering what everyone thinks of using a compressor? I'm planning to set the pressure at 30-40 and hold it fairly far away.

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I would not recommend doing general PC cleaning with an air compressor for three reasons:


1. Air (especially dry) traveling at high speeds and pressures creates static electricity, which can short and damage or destroy components.

2. Forcing air into a case with that pressure and speed can embed particulate into undesirable locations.

3. It is impossible to control the debris leaving the PC in that manner, and dust particulate may create a hazard to persons nearby.


Instead, what I would recommend is two stage:


1. Remove all fans (including CPU heatsink and fan) from the computer, blow each fan out with compressed air individually. Make sure to blow air into the clean side of the fan/heatsink being cleaned (to force air out the same path it came in, which is usually where the dust cakes up).

2. With the fans removed, remove the CPU itself and RAM sticks, then ground the PC and a vaccum and use a small precision attachment on a vacuum cleaner to remove the remaining dust from the PC case. Make sure not to directly attack / suck against the motherboard itself (or hard drives, PSU, etc.), and do this in a room with about 40-60% relative humidity. (The humidity will help reduce static discharge in the air and help prevent ESD from damaging components in the PC.)


Been cleaning PC's this way for years, and currently zero failure incidents as a result of cleaning. (Knock on wood.)




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For the past 15 years I have always used an air compressor...  60 gallons @ 175PSI set to 80 on the hose, never once has static been an issue.  I also don't bother with a dryer on the line, and yeah, I see moisture come out on short bursts, never once has it been an issue for me though I don't have droplets of water come out either. You are more liable to see static issues on plastic hose attachments with a vacuum cleaner and the attachment being that close to the machine for it to suck any decent amounts of dust away.  Chances of static jumping from the air in a compressor hose to your machine when you have the air tool ~24 inches away is pretty much non-existent.

What is bad is having the pressure too high when you are too close to the machine with the tool, and when you let the fans spin freely.  Gonna blow SMD's off or cook a bearing real fast.

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As ridiculous as it sounds, most computer components such as the motherboard, PSU and certain expansion cards can survive a full dishwasher cycle.  Obviously that's not how I recommend cleaning a PC. :wink2:


The following 8-year old video is an example.  The internals were covered in cigarette smoke residue, so he decided to dismantle the components and put them through the dish washer, with the exception of the case, battery and the hard disk. 



I also enjoy watching videos on old hardware such as restoration videos.  I have come ones where such hobbyists put components through a dishwasher cycle to clean extensive debris build-up from being left for 10+ years in storage such as a dusty shed.


As long as no moisture remains when the PC is powered up, it should be fine.  I generally clean my PC with an air duster, which is basically an aerosol can filled with propellant gas.  Here in Ireland, humidity is usually on the high side, e.g. I run a dehumidifier to keep the indoor level below 60%.


The only component I may wash is the keyboard.  I have a Corsair Cherry Red Mechanical keyboard that I accidentally knocked a glass of cider on.  I immediately unplugged it, tried wiping off what I could and let it dry.  Once dry, many of the letters were sticking.  When I started removing the keys to try cleaning below, I realised the mechanical switches were jamming. :o


With what appeared to be a ruined keyboard that I only purchased a few months before the incident, I figured I'll try giving it a bath as we don't have a dishwasher.  I partially filled a wide container with water from our dehumidifier (since it's effectively distilled), soaked the keyboard and pushed each key multiples times to force water through the switches.  I left it to dry for about a week.  It's fully functional again, all keys work and no sticking or other issue since.  :smile2:

Edited by Sean
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  • 4 months later...

Like a portable air compressor is not meant for PC cleaning,... I guess you could use it if used from a minimum distance.

Close range would cause pressure damage as previously mentioned above ^


I use compressed air designed for computer dusting/cleaning. So the psi is not too strong in the first place but not too weak either.


but a portable air compressor is powered... that would concern me....

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  • 1 year later...

I've used a small air compressor for years to clean my PC with no problems. If compressed air can damage the components, they weren't installed or made very well. I worked as an electrician on offshore drilling rigs and used compressed air on just about anything I needed it for...particularly cleaning dust and debris. Any pressure with high concentrations of water vapor is a failed system and should be corrected and not used.

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just don’t let any small wires or ribbon cables vibrate or move around while you’re blowing it out. It’ll fatigue the wires/cables and potentially crack them where they’re attached to something that’s fixed in place.


you can use a small soft bristled paint brush to dust with to loosen up the dust before you blow it out. 

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  • 7 months later...

I know this was started like eons ago but my 1000 cents are needed here.

A Air compressor is absolutely fine, though to be honest set you PSI to about 20 first (depending on your attachment ( Air Snozzle) it can carry a huge punch.

if 20 seems weak slowly increase until you feel comfortable.

I use a Desiccant Air Dryer and 3 Filters  directly off compressor is a Water separator then a oil remover then desiccant then final filter ( I do not say you need this I also Paint Guitars, Car Parts Neighbors Dogs  err I mean cars SO I need those items plus dryer) Also my area is quite moist 375 days a year so I can collect like 1/2 gallon water in a week easy in my tank.


I have been building computers and repairing Peavey Commercial Series Professional amps (computers since 2001 amps since 2009) using a vac and hose to me would be sketchy at best, like rubbing feet on dry carpet then sending that nice spark directly into MB.

Of all the electrical items I Have worked on those Peavey CS Amps are IMHO indestructible, I bought a CS 1000X ( one time cost $1 per watt) that was said to be for parts only due to being flooded in florida 

I received it opened it was shocked to see so much MUD inside,  disassembled all boards, replace Pots (Potentiometers X2) Had to blow the HEck out of it and use my tooth brush (retired) and a few cans of Electrical contact cleaner and in end it works great and I still use it to this day.

Those amps need to be cleaned every 3 months if used daily due to massive air flow through Heatsinks.

My point is I Have been using a air compressor to blow out all sorts of items for a long time with no ill side effect.

But must use common sense.


Edited by spudler_t
Missing last part lol
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  • 8 months later...

I have a 15 gallon air compressor and I have considered it every time I ran out of compressed air. I really can't see any reason for it to cause harm unless you have it set as hard is it can blow or something. But mine has controls right down to 5psi I think it is..The biggest reason is I have to drag it all the way in here from the garage and. If it wasn't for the stairs I'd do it. 
Now having said all that, I'm going to do it today. I picked up a 100 foot hose so I could use it in the house without pulling it in.
I'm almost afraid to take the backside off my case. I have a dual chamber style case so, its probably pretty gross back there and I've been needing to pull out some hardware I have upgraded.

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So I did the compressor thing today, didn't get around to it yesterday. No problems worked as well as a can of compressed air except a lot cheaper!
I'll be sticking with it. May even get a smaller one to keep in my office. It will be handy for working with guitars sometimes too, depending on what I'm doing to said guitar of course lol


The case looks fantastic. All in all I do believe its cleaner then when I use a can of air.

See can barely tell theres glass on  i t



I'm sorry it looked funny with no lights at the bottom lol

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  • 2 weeks later...

My compressor has a pressure regulator & I can turn that way down.

Anyone using a compressor it doesn't hurt to open the water drain & let any water blow out of the compressor.


If your still worried you can get a refillable can & fill it with your compressor.


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  • 4 weeks later...

I dunno, I'm of the opinion the air compressor is just fine. Of course I try not to spray it at capacitors and what have you, but I think its unlikely to break anything.
I have a fairly expensive setup and now that I've done it a few times, it doesn't concern me in the least.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree Canzy I've never had any problems.

I have a 60 gallon compressor.

What I usually do instead of running the hose through the house is use my portable air tank that is for tires.

I have an air nozzle that uses the regular tire chuck end on the tank.

I screwed a needle valve in it the is for airing up balls.

It works very well .

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