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Originally published Friday, November 9, 2012 at 8:01 PM

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How to clean electronic equipment

There are many options available for cleaning electronics.

Special to The Seattle Times

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There are many options available for cleaning electronics.

Use a damp cloth to clean the screen of a computer monitor or television. As with all computer-cleaning situations, turn off the equipment first. Distilled water is good for dampening the cloth because it doesn’t contain small particles that can scratch the glass surfaces.

Commercial screen cleaners, available from office-supply or computer stores, also work. Some are specifically designed for laptop screens.

Antistatic cleaners offer protection against dust and can be used to clean casings for computers, printers, fax machines, televisions, phones and video and audio equipment.

Compressed air dusters allow users to dust intricate areas such as keyboards, typewriters, telephones, photo equipment and delicate household items. Be careful when using them so the air doesn’t push the dirt further into the device.

A good way to clean out a keyboard is to turn it upside down and blast a shot of compressed air between and under the keys. Another alternative is to use a mini-vacuum cleaner to pull the dust out.

Wipe the keys off with a damp clean cloth or use cotton swabs. Never spray liquid cleaner directly on the keyboard. If liquid or dirt gets under the keys, they will stick and will not be able to make contact, preventing the key from working.

If a key does get stuck, unplug the keyboard and pry off the key cap. Clean the key cap thoroughly, and spray the underneath area with a contact cleaner, which is used to clean electrical contacts.

Even when you take care to keep the area clean, computers will still collect dust, so every once in a while they need to be examined. Look at the fan on the back of the case. A buildup of dust and lint on the fan is a sign there’s also a buildup inside the computer.

To clean that out, first unplug the system, then carefully remove the case (you may need to unscrew it). Clean the dust out with a mini-vacuum cleaner or by carefully using a normal vacuum cleaner with a small nozzle attachment.