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How to Clean a Laptop Cooling Fan without Risking the Hardware?

An overworked laptop requires occasional cleaning. More so, if the device has a fully functional cooling fan in place that dissipates a lot of heat. These fans, dedicated to keeping the internal setup cool and operational, are prone to dirt and dust accumulation, which clogs up the vents and minimizes the cooling efficacy in time.

But that’s not the tricky part here. As the cooling fan of the laptop keeps attracting dust, the overall resistance increases, leading to overheating and subsequent throttling. Plus, if you are an audio engineer who prefers working in peace, trust me, a clogged cooling fan can make some serious noise

Things to Know Before Attempting to Clean the Laptop Fan

Now that you have already made up your mind about cleaning a laptop fan, you must know a few details to proceed in an informed manner.

Firstly, you need to understand the internal layout and check whether the laptop sports one or two fans for that matter. Certain gaming laptops from MSI and Asus offer concrete and compact cooling setups with fans ingrained within. Cleaning these units can be a tad difficult but you can still manage if you plan on going through with this read.

Once you have identified the arrangement of fans, it becomes important to check if the layout uses heat pipes to draw excess heat from the graphics card and processor. In most cases, these heat pipes lead into a heat sink, with the fans responsible for cooking them. The heat sink, with assistance from the fans, dissipates heat using the fins and for setups as evolved as these, the heat sink fins have the most chances of getting clogged up with dirt.

While thicker devices still have enough legroom to let the air circulate, allowing you to stall the clean-up, slim gaming devices hardly give you the liberty as even small bits of dust can hamper the cooling and lead to throttling, thereby directly impacting the performance and battery life of the laptop.

How to Set up the Device before Cleaning Up?

Before you plan on cleaning up the fans, you need to follow the mentioned steps to prepare the setup better:

  • Start by turning off the concerned laptop in the first place
  • Also, make sure that is unplugged from the power source
  • You can then unscrew the rear panel and keep the screws handy for later
  • If the fan setup is standard enough, remove the same by placing your fingers on the ribs to keep them in place
  • Also, it is better to remove the battery, just to be on the safer side

Now that you are aware of how the dismantling would look like, you can follow the mentioned strategies to clean the fan to health:

Option 1: Standard Cleaning

Once you use a screwdriver to remove the bottom panel, the fans or the entire cooling setup will be exposed. If the dust and dirt settlements are visually accessible, you can use a standard fiber cloth of the softest possible texture to wipe the surface clean. Your target should be to remove the dust from the area that ventilates

Option 2: Blow Cleaning

If the dust deposits are deep-seated, you can use the Blow technique to clean the fan. You can either use your mouth to blow air onto the surface or use a blower set at a low intensity to do the needful. A good thing about blow cleaning is that it allows you to reach the vents successfully while unclogging almost every area of the fan or the cooling setup. 

Option 3: Cleaning the laptop fan using compressed air

Using compressed air for cleaning is probably the cheapest, easiest, and most effective strategy to clean the laptop’s cooling setup. To proceed with it, you still need to turn off the device and restrict almost every source of power feeding into the motherboard. Next, you must get your hands on a nozzle that throws out compressed air, and that too with a release path in mind. The trick here is to place the nozzle close to the existing fan blades to blow away the powdery dust with the compressed air.

 How to Clean a Laptop Cooling Fan without Risking the Hardware

Also, you must be careful with the pressure and a lot of air pushed into the cooling setup might damage the same, irreversibly. If you can control the stress and airflow level, this is quite an effective strategy to go about. 

Things to Keep in Mind before using Compressed Air Cleaning Technique

As much as using a compressed air strategy can be beneficial, you need to consider this approach with a grain of salt. Firstly, compressed air is available in a can, which isn’t exactly environment friendly. More so, the cans are made of plastic and metal, which is an impossible composition to recycle. Finally, the compressed air cleaning technique needs to be approached with caution as excessive pressure or stress can damage the internal parts of the laptop. 

Option 4: Cleaning the Device using a Vacuum Cleaner

The last cooling fan cleaning strategy concerns using a vacuum cleaner, which is quite effective when it comes to pulling out the dust particles from the clogged pores. The only issue here is the build-up of static electricity, which isn’t exactly recommended while using a vacuum cleaner. 

Option 5: Replace the Fan

While cleaning the cooling fans can be an effective strategy, it isn’t exactly advisable if the laptop fan is a part of a complex arrangement or even alarmingly close to the processor. In this case, any level of stress can damage the motherboard, thereby adding to your woes. This is why if you are using an ultraportable laptop that doesn’t give ample room for opening the back panel and cleaning, it is better to get it replaced, under expert supervision. 

 How to Clean a Laptop Cooling Fan without Risking the Hardware

Cleaning the cooling fan of your laptop can be a tricky task to execute if you aren’t well-versed with the internal aesthetics. More often than not, gaming laptops get clogged the most as the fans need to work frantically to cool down the processor with higher TDPs and even the overheating graphics cards. However, there are times when replacing the fan is a better option than attempting to clean it but, in the end, it all depends on the type of laptop you are using. 

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