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Spring Cleaning Your Electronic Gear, Tip #2: Cleaning your components

Kristen is a former copywriter for Crutchfield. She wrote copy for both the web and catalog, covering a variety of home A/V products that included speakers, camcorders, and Blu-ray players. She also wrote a number articles and blog posts for the Crutchfield Know Zone.

More from Kristen Schaub

Dusting your receiver Last week I talked about cleaning your TV. But chances are, you'll probably have more trouble keeping all of the various components on your TV stand or cabinet clean. So what's the best way to get the job done?

Tip #2: Cleaning your components - Blu-ray and DVD players, receivers, etc.

Next to TVs, these units may be the dustiest of all. They usually sit in a stack, with dust accumulating around and under them. Even those of us who conscientiously wipe them down usually leave the buttons largely untouched, and the spaces underneath and to the sides of them undusted. And the cables behind them? A breeding-ground for dust bunnies.

Here's the problem: these components usually have a lot of venting to keep them cool. That venting is designed to let air circulate - but it also lets dust circulate, and dust, once it gets inside the guts of your gear, isn't coming out again.

Ideally, of course, your gear is tucked away inside an A/V cabinet, where its exposure to dust, pet hair, or direct sunlight is limited. Realistically, however, a lot of people have their gear on open-sided shelves or even sitting directly on the floor. And even those of us who do have their components closed up know that dust gets into those cabinets and piles up.

The solution? Frequent attention to keeping those components neat and tidy. Careful cleaning, especially in the case of equipment with an optical laser (like a Blu-ray or DVD player), is likely to prolong your gear's life.

Cleaning the chassis:

  1. Use a soft cotton cloth. A light spray of glass cleaner may be applied to the cloth to improve dust adhesion.
  2. Always dust the topmost items first (you'll inevitably knock dust down onto other stuff).
  3. Wipe away from vent holes, to avoid pushing debris into the component's interior.

Cleaning the front panel:

  1. A soft, dry paintbrush is a great tool to use in getting buttons and knobs clean; you can dislodge dust without changing settings.
  2. When cleaning the displays, again resort to a soft dry cloth. (A small amount of glass cleaner on the cloth may be used to remove smudges.)
  3. A can of compressed air works well for hard-to-reach places, like the cooling fan behind the vents or the back of the component. Just be sure to watch where you're blowing dust - you don't want to blow it deeper into the chassis.

Lens cleanerDust inside a component:
Blu-ray and DVD players often get pet hair or dust inside them, by way of that front tray. There are optical lens cleaner discs that can solve these basic dust and debris problems. These discs use small brushes or tiny holes in the disc that create wind to clean your player's lens and, in some cases, reduce the electrostatic charges that helped the lens gather dust in the first place. (Checking borrowed or rental discs for dirt before you put them in your player is another good habit to maintain.)

Dust inside a component's guts is harder to solve on your own. By taking off the cover, you're very likely to void the warranty. Besides, taking off the cover exposes a component to even more debris. If you have reason to believe that dust inside the component's chassis is a real problem, a repair service is probably your best bet.

This tip is an excerpt from my recent article in the Crutchfield Learning Center, Keeping your A/V Gear Clean.

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