How to Clean a Laptop Fan

Cool and quieten your laptop by keeping it clean

What to Know

  • Turn your laptop off and unplug it, then use compressed air to clean its vents.
  • You can clean a laptop fan without compressed air, but it's much more precarious.
  • A dust-clogged laptop fan can lead to cooling issues on your laptop.

This guide will teach you how to clean a laptop fan using compressed air and a more manual, hands-on cleaning.

How Do I Clean My Laptop Fan Without Taking It Apart?

The best way to clean a laptop without taking it apart is using compressed air. It's cheap, readily available, and provides the safest and easiest ways to clean a laptop of dust and debris without taking it apart. 

We'll use a can of compressed air in our example since it's more likely you have that or have access to it. Blowing into the vent with your mouth is not advisable due to the humidity and possible fluid introduced into the laptop.

  1. Shut down your laptop and unplug it from its charger. If you can, remove the laptop's battery.

  2. Locate the fan intake vent(s) on your laptop. They are usually on the underside, but it depends on the laptop make and model. If in doubt, consult your manual or manufacturer's website.

  3. Aim the compressed air nozzle at the vent, but do not push deep inside it and give a short burst of air. Target another vent and do the same. If you have the option, blow compressed air directly onto the fan blades themselves.

    Cleaning a Laptop Vent with Compressed Air

    Long presses risk condensation due to the low temperature of the expanding air. Stick to short bursts only.

  4. If your laptop fan is particularly dirty or clogged with dust, it can be beneficial to blow compressed air through the exhaust vents as well. These are typically on the side or rear of the laptop, but it depends on the model. 

    Laptop Exhaust Vents

Next time you turn your laptop on, you may see some dust exhausted from it that the compressed air loosened. For a deeper clean, shut it down and repeat the above steps.

How to Clean a Laptop Without Compressed Air

If you don't have compressed air, or want to avoid generating extra waste in empty cans, then you can clean a laptop fan without it. However, note this method is much more hands-on and involves dismantling the laptop, which can invalidate your warranty and risk damaging it permanently. Only proceed if you are working on a computer that doesn't contain precious data or feel highly confident in repairing it.

As above, shut down your laptop and unplug it from its charger. If you can, remove the laptop's battery,

  1. If possible, locate a teardown guide for your laptop on a site like iFixit. Alternatively, use your motherboard manual or manufacturer website to find a guide on how to take it apart.

  2. Locate the screws on the underside of the laptop and remove them. 

  3. Take off the underside panel, taking care not to damage any ribbon cables (detach them first if necessary). You may need to loosen any glue with a heat source.

  4. Locate the laptop fan and, if you can access it, use a lint-free cloth to remove any dust you can see. 

    A laptop with the rear panel removed and the fan exposed

    jun xu/Getty Images

  5. If your laptop has an accessible heatsink, use the same cloth to remove any excess dust. 

  6. Replace the rear panel and all the appropriate screws and cables.

How Often Should You Clean a Laptop Fan?

A quick blast every six months should be enough to keep your laptop cool and running at peak performance if using compressed air. If you plan to take it apart, only do so when it is strictly necessary to avoid the potential for damage or problems when putting it back together.

What Is the Easiest Way to Clean a Fan?

Compressed air is by far the easiest way to clean a laptop fan, though it's not the only method.

  • How do I stop my laptop fan from running all the time?

    If your laptop fan is constantly running, your PC could be overheating. Clean the fan, keep your computer cool, and close any programs that consume many resources.

  • Why is my laptop fan so loud?

    Dust is the likely culprit, so keep the fans and vents clean. Keeping your PC cool and closing any unnecessary processes may also fix a loud computer fan.

  • How do I turn on my laptop fan on Windows 10?

    You can directly control your computer's fan from the system BIOS. First, choose a fan type, then set a mode and a temperature threshold. You can also use a third-party program like Speedfan.

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