How to clean a portable fan
Do you suspect that your portable fan is working harder or is noisier than it used to be due to the accumulation of dust?
After several months of normal use, it is not uncommon for laptop cooling fans to begin to suffer from the effects of dust buildup. Dust can make the fans less efficient at cooling, so they will probably have to work harder to cool down the CPU and GPU if you have one. In addition, dust and lint can begin to fill the valves from which hot air is to be expelled.
On a desktop PC, there is quite a lot of space to get in and do some thorough dusting, but laptops have a much more limited size and delicate form factor. Therefore, you may be worried about opening up your laptop to get some dust, but it is not that difficult, just be methodical and careful, and follow our guide below.
When you’re done, your laptop’s cooling system should breathe free again – in just 10 minutes or so. Please note that not all laptops provide access to their fans by removing the entire bottom panel, such as ours. If in doubt, see the notebook operating instructions or first-party instructions for accessing the internal component online.
- A standard modern laptop
- Precision screwdriver set
- A microfiber cloth
- A soft brush
- A toothpick
- Open the laptop and assemble the cleaning equipment
- Carefully clean very dusty areas with a dry microfiber cloth
- Use a soft brush to remove dust from the fan blades
- Use a toothpick to remove lint deposits from the valves
Turn off your laptop and get ready
Turn off the laptop and unplug everything. Sit on a suitable work surface that does not scratch the laptop, and turn it over so that you can remove the bottom panel by loosening the various screws and lifting it away.
Check what needs to be done
In our example of the laptop, the relatively simple disassembly revealed everything we needed to see and access. The two fans in the picture take in air from the valves on the underside of the laptop, blow air over a pair of flat heating tubes that cover the CPU and discrete GPU, and blow the hot air out of the back of the laptop by the hinge. area.
Initial inspections reveal dusty fans and dusty bottom panel. A quick but gentle drying with a dry microfiber cloth removes most of the surface dust from the panel and fan areas.
Gently brush the fan blades
Look at all the dust and fluff inside the fan blades. We will use an extra soft toothbrush (thanks Holiday Inn) to brush and pull it out. Work around the fan brush between each blade from the center out, removing the detritus. It does not get perfect after this, but things are much less clogged.
Toothpick dust and lint from valves, before a new wipe and you’re done
The last big step in the cleaning process was to use a plastic toothpick to brush the valves, where the air from the fan is thrown towards the heating pipes. This removed a pleasing amount of dusty fluff. Now the fans and cooling vets are more or less dust-free, you can give the surfaces an extra microfiber wipe before you close everything and start up the quieter, cooler laptop.
Frequently asked questions
Compressed air jets or a vacuum cleaner can be a useful last step in cleaning, but you need to be very careful with these powerful air motors. Inside the laptop there are some very delicate parts. So if you feel the need for air jets, be very careful, starting from a distance where the air jet / suction force will be milder. Use your skill and judgment, but we recommend that it is not a necessary step for cleaning.
No, be aware that the fan will have a closed lubricated bearing and will run its entire life without adding oil from the user. If the fans are physically worn out one day, replace the entire unit from the portable vendor.
If you have noticed any revealing signs that your laptop fans are not working as well as they used to (heat, noise), it may be time to take a look. The laptop in the pictures was cleaned about a year earlier, and not for the first time, and is three or four years old. Prevention is better than cure, but people like to rest laptops on upholstered furniture sometimes, and they will soak up a lot of dust fairly quickly.