Laptop Dust Removal
This article presents an easy method to remove dust from the heatsinks
of the Dell Inspiron E1505 laptop computer. This technique should work
for other laptop models as well.
Why is Dust a Problem?
Over time, dust and lint will accumulate on the internal heatsinks of
laptop computers. The dust and lint reduce the airflow, rendering the
cooling system ineffective. This results in the following symptoms:
- The fan runs continuously even while the computer is idle.
- The fan switches to high speed even though the computer is only
- Under high load, and after the fan has already switched to its
highest speed, the processor reduces its frequency (throttles) to
Dust can easily be removed from the exterior vents with a vacuum
cleaner. Cleaning the interior is not as straightforward. Two
well-known methods for removing dust from the interior are to
disassemble the computer for cleaning, or to blow compressed air into
the vents. Here is a very simple method that does not require
The service manual for the Dell Inspiron E1505 shows two heatsinks for
the processor and graphics card, respectively. The heatsinks are
visible from the exhaust vent. They extend into the computer case for
about an inch. The air blockage is caused by dust and lint that have
accumulated on the far side of the heatsinks, adjacent to the fan and
opposite from the exhaust vent.
The dust and lint can be dislodged as follows.
- Turn the computer off.
- Cut a 1/8 inch wide strip of an index card.
- Insert and remove the strip into the exhaust vent between each fin
of the heatsink.
- It is necessary to insert the strip 1.5 to 2 inches to reach the
opposite end of the heatsink.
While doing this, I noticed that the pitch of the fins on the two
heatsinks is different.
Cleaning the Heatsinks with an Index Card
A lot of dust came out when I cleaned my 2.5 year old laptop.
Afterwards, the computer ran cooler and the fan turned on much less
frequently. I consider the ten minutes required to clean the heatsinks
as time well-spent.