Is it ok to use an air compressor to clean the dust from the motherboard, from the cooling fans and from the radiators?

If yes, then what kind of air compressors are recommended? Are the tire inflators good for the job?

  • 1
    I wouldn't use one for inflating tyres. There are many 'computer-dedicated' compressors available. Tyres need gradual inflation to a maximum pressure, cleaners need 'speed of air'. The two are not necessarily interchangeable.
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 27, 2021 at 18:43

3 Answers 3


Depending on the humidity of your location. In general it’s not a good idea to use an air compressor because of the moisture in the air which could get onto all the components of the computer. If you were in a location where the air is super dry (under 10% humidity) it would probably be fine but it’s best to use canned air. Canned air is made from dehumidified air so it won’t corrode any of the components.

Personally I would just use canned air. It’s not worth the risk of damaging your components.

  • The humidity is very low in my area. I found a cheap compressor on Amazon - Akface Tire Inflator Portable Air Compressor - amazon.com/dp/B07SD4GMV6 - 150 PSI - does this have enough power to clean dust from surfaces?
    – Joe Jobs
    Jun 24, 2021 at 21:27
  • 1
    This answer is badly misleading. If there's humidity in the air, it's already been absorbed by any dust. Blasting compressed air at it of the same humidity is not going to make the slightest difference to its effectiveness.
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 27, 2021 at 18:38
  • 1
    I THINK what Salocor means is... In a high humidity area there is almost certainly water condensation in the tank of a medium/large compressor. If That manages to get to the air nozzle you have a High Pressure, probably rusty, definitely oily, Water Jet. Definitely Suboptimal for electronics:-)
    – Stax
    Feb 7, 2022 at 2:01

I'd been hesitant about switching from shop vac to air duster because of risk of static discharge; but eventually reasoned that if my precautions with my vac were sufficient, then an air duster had to be similar.

I keep my computers plugged into a good earth but no power whilst cleaning. I spray my vac/blower with anti-stat [In the UK Mr Sheen is great for that. If you live elsewhere then you want the one that used to be advertised as not letting dust stick to your old CRT television, back in the day.]

After some research, I ended up with this X-Power {Amazon UK link} as being "the cheapest of the good ones". You can pay a lot more.
It maybe feels expensive at $£€ 50, but compared to a can of compressed air at 10 - 15 which will last for a couple of cleans & never be as powerful, you've got one that should last a lifetime.

It cleans a machine in seconds not minutes, but beware… either do it outdoors or at least by an open window, or you'll spend the rest of the day dusting & vacuuming the room.
Also, received wisdom is to not let it spin your fans up too fast. I've never had a problem with this, but don't let your blower nozzle touch a fan it's spun up. That results in fan blades everywhere ;)


I use my harbor freight 20gal all the time, among other semi-full size compressors, NEVER had a problem. If you are the type of person that would have a problem with something like this, then you are also the type of person that should not be behind the wheel of a car.

The humidity or moisture argument is way overblown. Just blow air onto your hand first and feel for water or oil to know.

Things like this are garbage. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SD4GMV6 That will only fill something to ~100 psi but there is no volume of air to use for blowing dust.

you want a 120vac pancake type of compressor, with at least a 1 gallon air tank, that will get to 100 psi or better. That will give you enough air to do cleaning. The more common pancake compressors have 6 gal tanks. Get whatever fits your budget. I don't think you'll find one less than $100. And if you get an oil-less compressor, then there's no chance of oil you would just have to worry about water in the tank which there is a drain for. And if you choose a decent compressor you'll never have to worry about filling air in anything, and if it's small & portable that's another bonus. You could mail order them, or get it from locally from depot, lowes, or walmart, or harborfreight.

enter image description here

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.