How to Clean Laptop Fan | For Optimal Performance and Longer Lifespan

You can clean the laptop fan using either of the ways listed below.

  • Using compressed air

  • Taking it apart

How to Clean Laptop Fan Using Compressed Air 

You can clean a laptop fan using compressed air by following the instructions given below.

  1. Turn off your laptop, then disconnect from the charger. You may also need to remove the laptop's battery. 
  2. Remove the bottom panel of the laptop. Make sure the battery is not left.
  3. Find the intake vent(s) of the fan on the laptop. This is found on the underside but can vary depending on the model and make of the computer. Confirm from your user manual or the manufacturer's website if you're not sure.
  4. Aiming at the vent, direct the air nozzles to spray compressed air at the fan gently. Spray based on the air vent direction so that dust blows out of the laptop.
  5. If the fan is clogged with dust, it would also be good to blow compressed air through the exhaust vent. This is found at the laptop's rear, although it can vary depending on the model of the laptop. 
  6. When you're done, put the panel back in place and screw back the loosened screws. 
  7. Turn on the laptop. If you see dust exhausted from the laptop's vent, turn it off and repeat the process discussed above for further cleaning.  

How to Clean Laptop by Taking it Apart

You can clean the laptop fan by taking it off by following the following set of instructions.

  1. Shut down the laptop. Then unplug it from the charger.
  2. You may also need to remove the battery.   
  3. If you're not sure of anything, find a teardown guide from iFixit. You can also use the motherboard manual to guide you on how to take the laptop apart.
  4. Turn the laptop upside down, locate the screws, and remove them.
  5. Remove the underside panel. Do so carefully so that you don't damage the ribbon cables. 
  6. To be safe, start by detaching the ribbon cables.
  7. Loosen any glued component with a heat source. 
  8. Use electronic forceps, tweezers, needle-nose pliers, or small screwdrivers to remove the screws from the panel. Keep the loosened screws well, making sure they don't get lost. 
  9. After removing the case, the fan should be exposed.
  10. Find the fan and hold it in place using your hand to stop it from rotating. Never remove the fan if you lack the necessary knowledge. Doing so could damage the fan's heat dissipators and the processor. 
  11. Using a lint-free cloth, rub gently from the fan's center, dusting dirt and dust particles away. Ensure dirt or dust particles do not fall back into the fan while cleaning.
  12. Also, dust the heatsink using a pair of clothes.
  13. Gently rub on the vents of the laptop to remove any dust and dirt accumulated in the parts.
  14. Blow lightly into the fan to remove any dust particles that might have fallen back while cleaning.
  15. Repeat this procedure until you see the fan is clean.   
  16. Put the rear panel back in place and screw it. Be sure to fix all the screws back.

What You'll Need

You'll need the list of tools given below to open the laptop and clean the fan.

  • Soft, lint-free cloth. This piece of fabric should not scratch the surface of delicate components. 
  • Screwdrivers. Consider the sizes of the screws on your laptop to choose the appropriate screws driver size.
  • Static-free mat. This is not an essential tool, but it's needed for safety purposes. It prevents the laptop's electrical circuits from electrostatic charges.

Important to Note

It's important to note that taking a laptop apart when cleaning the fan requires you to have the necessary laptop parts. Consult your laptop's service manual for information about the laptop's components before you dismantle it. 

Removing the laptop's casing can also void your warranty if the laptop was warranted. Make sure the laptop you're working on does not have sensitive or confidential data.

 It would be best to refrain from using a vacuum cleaner to clean a laptop fan as it can damage the laptop's electrical connectivity and hardware. Also, some thin laptops, may have a noisy cooling fan while working, but that doesn't necessarily mean that there is a problem.


What About Laptop Cooling Pads?

Laptop cooling pads are cheaper and an easier way to cool your laptop. 

A laptop cooling pad is an external fan for a laptop. This pad lowers the heat level inside the laptop and increases air circulation inside the laptop. However, this cooling pad drives dust particles to the inside component of the laptop, including the fan—dirt buildup over time, resulting in a heat increase.


Why are Vacuum Cleaners not Recommended for Cleaning Laptop Fans?

Vacuum cleaners are not recommended for cleaning laptop fans because of the following list of reasons.

  • Vacuum cleaners can result in static electricity buildup around your laptop. 

  • Vacuum cleaners are not effective in dust and dirt removal from the laptop fan.

  • Vacuum cleaners can damage your laptop's electrical wires and hardware.

laptop

Can I Replace my Laptop Fan?

Yes, it is possible to replace the fan on your laptop. Most laptops have their fans fastened by a plastic bearing that may require replacement over time. 

Replace the fan when it starts producing a loud whining sound. There are laptop fans available in different variations depending on the make of your laptop.

Be sure to check the fan's dimensions before you purchase it to replace your laptop's fan. If you find challenges replacing the laptop fan, find a specialized technician to do it for you.

How to Replace my Laptop Fan

You can replace your laptop fan by following your laptop's user manual and the assembly guide. 

To replace the fan, follow the procedure given below.

  1. Unplug your laptop from the charger and shut it down
  2. Remove the laptop battery, the optical disk, and the hard drive
  3. Disengage the screws and remove the cover before removing the hard drive
  4. Turn the laptop and remove the screws beneath
  5. Open the lid and then remove the keyboard from the laptop. Push the screws holding the keyboard back to remove them.
  6. Remove the screws holding the fan in place, then remove the fan and the heatsink. 
  7. Remove the thermal residue found at the CPU and the bottom of the heat sink. 
  8. Install the new fan. The heat sink should return to its original location. 
  9. Fix the fan in place using the screws. 
  10. Return the optical disk, hard drive, and the battery in position and tighten them
  11. Put back the rear lid in place and tighten it.
  12. You're good to go. You can turn on the laptop. 

How Often Should a Laptop's Fan be Cleaned?

A laptop's fan should be cleaned after every six months. This is enough to keep the fan in optimal working condition.  

You should always go for compressed air when cleaning the fan. Take the laptop apart only if necessary to minimize the damage that may arise while dismantling or reassembling the laptop.


Is Cleaning my Laptop Fan Necessary? 

Yes, cleaning your laptop fan is necessary to remove dust particles from the fan that causes overheating, as even top business laptops overheat if they're maintained poorly. Overheating impacts your laptop in a negative way, as shown below.

  • Overheating reduces the performance of your laptop
  • Overheating drains your laptop battery, causing low battery life
  • Overheating can damage the hardware of your computer, costing you a lot to repair or replace.
fixing laptop

What Causes Laptops to Overheat?

The factors that cause laptops to overheat are listed below.

  • The central processing unit of your laptop produces heat that causes the laptop to heat up
  • The electrical circuitry and other electrical components also produce heat that heats the laptop

The laptop fan is designed to get rid of this heat to prevent the laptop from overheating. However, when the fans are exposed to dust particles and dirt, they become inefficient in getting rid of the built-up heat; hence the laptop overheats. Also, due to their compact size and their portable nature, travel laptops can have issues with overheating, which is worth knowing when looking for one.

fan fixing

How to Avoid an Overheating Laptop

You can avoid an overheating laptop by cleaning the laptop fan regularly to remove dust particles and dirt that may build up on the fan. Use compressed air or a soft, lint-free piece of cloth to dust off the fan. And make sure to go through our more detailed guide on cooling down a laptop.

brushing

What Causes a Laptop Fan to be Dusty?

Dust particles drawn from the air cause laptop fans to become dusty. Laptop fans collect dust in the air while in operation. The dust and dirt they sack build up around the fan, causing it to clog. A clogged fan is not efficient in getting rid of the heat in the laptop. Instead, the heat builds up, causing the laptop to overheat.

dusty fan

How to Prevent Dust Build-Up in the Laptop Fan

You can prevent dust buildup in your laptop fan by practicing the guidelines listed below.

  • Provide sufficient air circulation enough to prevent heat buildup in the laptop.
  • Wipe the exterior of the laptop case regularly using a clean, soft cloth. This will prevent dust from building up and interfering with the air circulation of the cooling system. When having in mind long-term usage, the fact that cooling system is what most gaming laptops buyers pay close attention to, further stresses the importance of it.
  • Avoid placing your laptop on porous surfaces like blankets or any other material that could block the ventilation spaces of the laptop. 
  • Leave sufficient space behind the back panel of your laptop, at least 8 inches.
  • Do not cover your laptop with any material when you turn on the laptop. Covering the laptop may result in additional heat buildup in the laptop.
clean laptop

Conclusion

You should keep your laptop fans always clean, away from dirt and dust particles. This is essential in optimal fan performance; otherwise, heat will build up in the laptop, which may compromise the laptop's internal components. Do the clean-up yourself, but you need to consult with the user manual if you're unsure of anything. 

Have a reputable practitioner to replace your laptop fan if needed to avoid damaging the machine.

About Dusan Stanar

I'm the founder of VSS Monitoring. I have been both writing and working in technology in a number of roles for dozens of years and wanted to bring my experience online to make it publicly available. Visit https://www.vssmonitoring.com/about-us/ to read more about myself and the rest of the team.

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