Best Computer Vacuums

Updated June 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

20 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
380 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best computer vacuums

Last Updated June 2019

Dust buildup around circuit boards, processors, and power supply can keep a computer from operating efficiently, leading to much higher operating temperatures and possibly slowing performance. Enter the computer vacuum, a convenient appliance for removing dust in a few seconds, saving you from lots of tedious work with a canister of compressed air and a microfiber cleaning cloth.

A computer vacuum is a handheld device with several small, often flexible attachments that make it easy to reach tiny crevices and corners inside a computer’s case or laptop’s air vents. These vacuums are designed to operate around a computer’s sensitive electronics without disrupting them, but not all computer vacuums are the same.

Buyers have a wide choice of models, with different power levels, corded and cordless versions, and various attachments. Read on to learn more about computer vacuums and which model might be perfect for your needs. If you’re ready to buy, take a look at the products we’ve recommended here.

Get more cleaning options with a computer vacuum that has a two-way setting that allows you to use it as a blower, too.

Key considerations

Static electricity

To an inexperienced computer user, computer vacuums may seem like an odd choice. Why not just use a household vacuum to clean dust from a computer’s vents or case interior? The reason is that a regular vacuum cleaner can build up quite a static charge on the plastic nozzle during use, and that static can discharge at the worst possible moment, just as the nozzle nears a circuit board, for example. Next thing you know, you’ve got a computer that won’t boot up. And that’s the most important consideration when choosing to use a computer vacuum: it reduces static buildup and prevents an unintended static discharge while using it around electronics.

Power

Suction power is another consideration. Most computer vacuums are handheld units with smaller motors than household vacuums. Power can differ greatly between various models – higher-end models boast 4.5 amps and ample cubic feet per minute (cfm), while lower-priced vacuums may bury these stats because they don’t match the same cfm rating. You need a computer vacuum that will clear dust from the CPU interior, keyboard, or peripherals without damaging the components or hardware.

Take into account how you’ll be using the computer vacuum, too. If you’re cleaning dust bunnies out of neglected computer towers, that takes a tool with more power and vacuum capacity, as well as dust storage. If you just need to clean a laptop’s keyboard and remove dust from its innards via the air vents, a smaller and less-powerful vacuum is your best bet.

Waste

And here’s another reason to use a computer vacuum: using compressed air canisters to blow out dust and debris means you’ll be adding spent canisters to the landfill — they can’t be recycled. A computer vacuum can be used many times before needing to be replaced, with a service life far beyond that of a disposable air canister.

Powerful two-way cleaning

With a blower setting and a vacuum setting, as well as a powerful 4.5-amp brushless motor, this computer vacuum can easily loosen dust from the corners of a computer case and then suction it up without you having to hold the nozzle too close to sensitive circuit boards.

Computer vacuum features

Motor: Like other handheld vacuums, computer vacuums are driven by an electric motor. The size and output of the motor can vary, and that will affect the power of the vacuum.

Attachments: Computer vacuums should include a few attachments, such as a hose extension and different nozzle sizes that can reach small, hard-to-access areas of the computer.

Antistatic brush: You’ll want a soft bristle brush that may be fitted as an attachment or as a handheld accessory to loosen dust bunnies from sensitive electronics.

Grounding wire: A few computer vacuum kits include a nozzle attachment with a grounding wire. This can be placed on a surface well away from the component being cleaned so that the static electricity discharges along the grounding wire and not into the electronics.

Two-way setting: This option on many computer vacuums allows you to either vacuum or blow air. Using a blower can be helpful in dislodging dust from tightly packed components without damaging them.

Handle: Look for a computer vacuum with a sturdy handle so you can maintain control of the appliance while shifting it around the computer components.

Shoulder strap: Available on larger models, a strap makes the vacuum easier to carry and can help prevent accidental drops.

EXPERT TIP

Before vacuuming, turn off the computer and switch off the power strip it’s plugged into. Keeping the computer plugged into a non-powered outlet will keep the power supply grounded, further reducing the chances of frying a component.


Staff  | BestReviews

Computer vacuum prices

Inexpensive: Single-speed handheld computer vacuums start at about $19, though the lower the price, the less powerful the vacuum.

Mid-range: Computer vacuums with more options and accessories are available in the $40 to $50 range.

Expensive: More powerful computer vacuums boasting 4.5 amps or more can be found in the $80 to $105 price range.

Cordless rechargeable computer vacuums are much more convenient, while corded vacuums offer stronger, steadier power.

Tips

  • Loosen dust and dirt before vacuuming. Use a natural bristle brush or antistatic brush attachment to loosen the dust around computer components before vacuuming.
  • Turn off the computer before vacuuming it.
  • Discharge possible static buildup from your body first. Static buildup on clothing or shoes, for example, should be discharged by touching a metal surface well away from the computer before starting a cleaning session.
  • Clean the computer vacuum after each use. This is especially important for keeping the nozzle attachments free of dust and other potential sources of static.
  • Use the blower on the motherboard and other circuit boards. This will loosen dust and you can then vacuum the dust that falls to the bottom of the computer case.
EXPERT TIP

Use a small nozzle attachment or a small bristle brush attachment to vacuum debris from between the keys of a computer keyboard.


Staff  | BestReviews

Cordless versatility

Maneuver around computer interiors and across a keyboard easily with this neatly designed mini vacuum. Its extended vacuum nozzle attachments include an antistatic brush for swiping away debris and dust bunnies.

Other products we considered

We stand by our top picks in the matrix, but there were a few other models that caught our eye. We like the compact size of the ZOpid Mini Vacuum Cleaner, a battery-operated handheld model designed to grab and pick up light dust, but it’s not for heavier cleanup jobs. A more powerful option is the HONKYOB Handheld Vacuum, a lightweight, cordless appliance laden with an array of accessory attachments, a highly flexible nozzle, and strong suction power that runs for 20 minutes.

Look for vacuum attachments that have rubber-tipped nozzles. Rubber doesn’t easily hold a static charge, making it a good choice for computer vacuums.

FAQ

Q. I’ve read that using a computer vacuum is risky and can damage circuit boards. Is this true?
A.
Static discharge is a constant risk when working around circuit boards, and this can happen in a number of ways, such as touching the board with a finger when there’s a static charge buildup on your clothing. Swiping a board with a cloth can also cause static buildup and discharge. So, a risk exists no matter what cleaning method you use. Of course, another way that a circuit board can be damaged is by accidentally whacking the vacuum nozzle against it. Just move carefully around the computer interior while cleaning, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent static discharge, and it should be fine.

Q. How long will a battery-operated computer vacuum run?
A.
That depends on the type of battery. For example, a small handheld using standard AA batteries may give you an hour or two of run time, and gradually lose power as the batteries discharge. A vacuum with a four- or six-cell rechargeable battery may last a shorter or longer time. Check the product specifications for the models you’re considering.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Samantha
    Samantha
    Writer

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