How to Clean Laptop Fan? – 4 Easy Methods

Last Updated on March 4, 2021

Laptop fans take away excess heat from delicate components on the motherboard like the CPU. However, since they draw air in, they are likely to get clogged up with dust and dirt from the environment. This can cause overheating. Read on to see how to clean laptop fan.

You can use a can of compressed air to blow away dust and dirt particles from the fan assembly. You can also achieve the same with a handheld dust blower, one with moderately low pressure. If you don’t have some of these items, you can do some good cleaning with a soft cloth or some cotton balls or cotton swabs.

Of course, the extent of the dirt on the fan can add some complexity to the cleaning process. In some cases, a full fan disassembly is necessary to reach deeply-lodged dirt and dust.

How to Clean Laptop Fan?

You’ll have to open up the laptop in order to thoroughly clean the fan. Many use screws that can be removed with a simple Philips head screwdriver.

Others come with unibody. Here the bottom cover has to be carefully detached from the chassis.

A clean working surface is necessary, and a way to organize the screws you remove can come in handy as well.

With the laptop open, you can remove the fan from its mount to clean it separate from the rest of the components. To do this, unscrew it and then unplug its cable from the motherboard and you’re ready to go.

Once the disassembly is complete, there are three popular ways to clean a laptop fan:

  1. Using Compressed Air / Air Blower
  2. Using a Laptop Cleaning Brush Kit
  3. Using Soft Cloth / Cotton Balls
  4. Using Rubbing Alcohol

1. Using Compressed Air Can / Air Blower

How to Clean Laptop Fan
Canned compressed air is great for electronic use. It’s dry air so no moisture can hurt your electrical components. Additionally, the pressure is well regulated to prevent accidental damage to your system.

With compressed air can direct the nozzle at the part of the fan you want to clean. You should then use short bursts to try and dislodge the dust and the dirt off the fan.

You can do the same with a hand-held dust blower. Just be careful to use the ones meant to clean delicate electrical components.

Advantages

Compressed air is better suited for hard-to-reach places. Furthermore, being under pressure makes it ideal for dislodging even some larger dust clumps and offering a more thorough clean without having to disassemble the fan itself.

Compressed air cans can be stored and reused the next time you need to clean your fan. And, if they do run out, they can be affordably acquired in many hardware stores.

Caution

It’s vital to know how to clean laptop fan safely using compressed air. Some dust blowers are not suited for delicate electrical components simply because they exert too much air pressure. Thus, using them on your laptop fan can cause damage.

It’s also important to note that sometimes the compressed air can cause more damage by further lodging dust particles in the fan. Therefore, it’s vital to double-check the fan to ensure it’s as clean as you need it to be.

2. Using a Laptop Cleaning Brush Kit


There are different sizes and types of brushes available for cleaning different parts of the PC.

Using brushes is an excellent alternative to compressed air. In order to clean the laptop fan with brushes you have to first choose the right brush.

Since a fan is not as delicate a motherboard or other electronic circuits, you can use slightly harder brushes.

Make sure you clean the rim as well as each every blade. If the cable connector has accumulate dust, make sure to clean that as well.

Advantages

If you do not have a compressed air can or an air blower lying around, then you can employ this method.

You can even use a spare tooth brush, however, if the tooth brush has hard fibers, then make sure you are very gentle with the cleaning processor.

Caution

Using a brush that is too hard can rub against the delicate electronics.

While cleaning the fan blades and rims should not much of an issue, however, when cleaning delicate circuitry with a brush, make sure you use a soft one and apply the pressure very gently.

3. Using a Soft Cloth / Cotton Balls


This is how to clean laptop fan without having to use compressed air. You’ll need a soft, clean piece of cloth. Alternatively, you can use some cotton balls or some cotton swabs, making sure not to leave behind any cloth fibers.

When ready, rub the dust off the fan, making sure to reach all the surfaces. This means that even the surface under the blade needs to be accounted for.

This is where the cotton swabs come in. If you have small enough ones, you can fit them between the fan blades or around it to get to the hard-to-reach places. You may need to disassemble the fan to reach some parts.

Advantages

This method makes use of things that you may already have available. It is therefore much cheaper in the long run, and you can easily do it yourself.

Caution

When rubbing down the fan blades, you can keep it from rotating on its axis by gently holding it down. This can make your work a bit easier.

While you do this, it is important to ensure you do not use excessive force as you don’t want to inadvertently damage the fan. Too much pressure can be disastrous to such a delicate component.

4. Using Rubbing Alcohol


Rubbing alcohol like isopropyl (IPA) can come in handy when you have caked dirt on your laptop fan. You can smear a little of the alcohol on a clean piece of cloth and gently rub the part to remove dirt.

It is recommended to use the purest form of isopropyl on your electrical components, and with 90% and above purity you should have an easy time as it quickly vaporizes after being applied.

It is also usable on electrical components, so you can use it on the fan’s controller board if it has some dirt on it as well.

Advantages

IPA evaporates fast and leaves no residues. As such, it’s great for electrical components. It can be used to remove anything from dust to greasy smudges on the fan.

Caution

First and foremost, before reinstalling the fan, make sure all the isopropyl has dried up. You should also note that that the alcohol, as well as its vapors, are flammable so it’s necessary to have the device off when using it and work away from any open flames.

While you can use IPA on metallic parts of the fan assembly, this solution can have unwanted reactions with some plastics, so it’s best to avoid using too much of it on plastic fan blades.

How To Clean Laptop Fan Without Compressed Air

If you do not have an Air Compressor or a can of compressed air lying around then you can use the soft cloth and the rubbing alcohol methods.

You will need to get stiff and bulked up dust out of the fans first in order to use the rubbing alcohol. Compressed air can make the process of removing dust easier, however, you can also use a soft brush to gently clean the fan before applying rubbing alcohol or soft cloth to clean it thoroughly.

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Conclusion

Knowing how to clean laptop fan is an invaluable skill that will keep your PC running optimally.

This can be done with a can of compressed air. Alternatively, you can go the manual route and use a soft dry cloth to wipe off the dirt. If need be, applying some rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) on the piece of cloth can take care of some pesky stains.

While cleaning the fan, be gentle and be sure to isolate it from the rest of the motherboard just to make your work easier, and the laptop needs to be off throughout the process.

Atif Qazi

Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGearLab. He is a PC enthusiast as well as engineer with a keen interest in PC hardware and all stuff related to tech and games.

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