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Mites, cats and flesh - Inside nasty PCs and gamer lairs

What lurks inside your keyboard? What happens to your PC when you vape near it? Sit back and (try to) enjoy this Spring special on PC hygiene!

 

Mites, cats and flesh: Inside nasty PCs and gamer lairs

 

Taking twenty minutes out of your day to clean your PC, monitor or keyboard is not everyone's idea of fun. Especially if you would rather be gaming instead of picking bits of cat hair out of your PC case fans. When we buy a gaming PC, we promise ourselves we'll take such good care of our shiny new rig, and we even set a reminder to clean out those mesh filters and fans. We promise ourselves that this brand new RGB keyboard will NEVER get in the state the last one did.

But life happens.

We forget, or we just don't have time to clean our hardware or peripherals. Yes, there are some gamer nests out there that belong to the less hygienic members of society, who choose not to clean out their keyboard until it stops working, the space bar refusing to depress thanks to a stray piece of Greggs sausage roll pastry. Take a trip, won't you, into the dirty, but necessary world of PC cleaning.

That's Not Lemonade

Ah, the neckbeard nest. The sanctuary of the hardcore gamer that would rather reach for an empty bottle of Coke than take a short trip to the bathroom. (You knew this article was going this way, and you're still here. Kudos.)

Over on the hallowed pages of Reddit, you will find a subreddit that is filled with images and videos of neckbeard nests. Although you will find lots of stuff shared purely to ruin your dinner, some of the members of this subreddit are genuinely trying to take steps to improve their mental health as well as their living environment. But, yes, there are many individuals who are just messy by choice, refusing to clean up the area where they spend long hours glued to a monitor, thrashing squeakers on GTA Online.

Some of us may have experienced a roommate who was a little messy, and promised they would absolutely do the dishes this week. But nothing could prepare you for walking into something like this:

 

Nasty PC - Messy Gaming Room

 

These are the kind of images the members of the subreddit lives for, often submitted by a concerned co-habitant, friend or relative, but if ever there's a request for support, they are more than willing to help get people's life in order.

But then there is this kind of gamer:

What's Inside Your Keyboard?

As the title of this article suggests, we're going to get really down and dirty with some of the horrid things you might find in a PC or peripheral, and offer some advice as to the hazards of not cleaning your battlestation.

Hidden Keyboard Horrors

We know that, as humans, we are filthy creatures. Seriously, it's true. As clean and tidy as some of us are - showering daily, brushing teeth, flossing and preening - we still have bodies that refuse to stay clean. We shed skin cells and hair at an alarming rate, and have minute organisms living on our person that we probably know nothing about. We pick up bacteria and all sorts of dirt along the way, and deposit it at our desk, on our keys and our mice. Not to mention the bits of biscuit and pizza we accidentally drop on them. The point is, unless you live in a hermetically sealed clean room, you have no doubt dropped a few bits of yourself around your desk.

let's face it, the human body is a vast landscape of bacteria, microbes and even mites. These little fellas, for example, live in human eyelashes. Not just some, either. Virtually all human eyelashes:

 

Eyelash mites Demodex folliculorum SEM

Eyelash mites - Demodex folliculorum 9Source: WikiPedia)

 

Demodec folliculorum are a cheery looking bunch, granted, but close-up they give you the creepy crawlies. And I wouldn't want to find a bunch of them cuddled up under my backspace key.

Anyway, back to keyboards. Quickly.

The keyboard below was cleaned out after thirteen years of neglect. Reddit user, u/EthanWS6, said "I did have this through all of college so you can bet there was some Ramen in there". Although we might not all have keyboards that have more food in it than our fridge, it is definitely something that should be on a regular maintenance list.

 

Dirty Keyboard Before and After

 

Most keyboard keys come off without too much argument, and cleaning is as simple as taking a vacuum cleaner pipe to the internal area. In a few articles this Spring, we'll look at the easiest and best methods of cleaning your peripherals and hardware (look out for those). For now, I'll leave you wondering what's in your eyebrows and under your keys.

Big Clouds = Big Problems

Recently, I had a conversation with an old friend about nicotine stains (not to be confused with oxidisation yellowing stains) on an old SuperNintendo console. He recounted how he got the console for a very low price because it looked a lot like this:

 

Yellow Nicotine Stained SNES Console

 

Apparently, yellow smoke/nicotine stains can be removed by taking the SNES apart, putting the case in a dishwasher, then soaking it in a bath of bleach. Live and learn.

Our conversation hovered around the dangers of smoking, and the problems you could face if you smoked around your PC or console. I then wondered just how bad vaping near a PC was. According to a few sources online, the vapour that is exhaled can contain a sticky residue that is very bad for fans, heatsinks and components in general.

When you blow vape into fans, this will leave behind a sticky residue that will attract more dust, and clog the fans a lot faster. The mesh on the front of PCs really don't need this kind of blockage, either, so it is best to have plenty of air circulation (such as a desk fan) if you're going to vape at your desk.

You will also notice that when you clean your monitor or screen, there is a film made up of vapour residue and dust that is quite difficult to remove, unless you use a spray cleaner such as the one below.

 

V7 Cleaning Computer Kit - 125ml Cleaner with Cloth Foams

 

Furry Friends

Cats, dogs, alpacas and other pets are the bane of any computer owner. Granted, an alpaca will only cause you problems when you shear it, as they don't shed like cats an dogs.

I digress.

I had the misfortune of choosing Labrador Retrievers as a household pet. I have three dogs, and they all shed (or malt) really badly between January and March, and then again between April and December. I have become accustomed to having dog hair as a condiment and fashion accessory, but I do try my best to ensure my PC does not end up looking like Chewbacca's console on the Millenium Falcon.

Some Tips For Pet Owners

  1. Do not ever have your PC on the floor. Always have your PC on your desk, where there will be minimal amounts of dust, hair, fibres and dog fur floating around.
  2. When you're vacuuming your room, spend a few moments on your fans to reduce the build-up of pet shedding
  3. Ask your cat (politely) to not jump up on the desk.

Time For A Spring Clean?

When you've finished being horrified at what lurks around your desk, look out for our series of Spring cleaning articles which cover everything from cleaning hardware & peripherals, to cleaning up your hard drive storage with free tools. We're giving you some quick tips that will have the outside and inside of your rig sparkling, and leave you plenty of time for gaming & fun!