Tech Lolz: Smoking Makes Your Computer Stink?!

Summer is the universal season of bad smells. In the bus, at the mall, at work, in the park, wherever you are, a bad smell is definitely near. However, I would have not believed that the bad smell would come from your computer. Never mind that, as always, there are people out there who prove me wrong in my naive opinion. Apparently, smoking near your computer stinks things up worse than you would have thought. Let's see more about what happens and how to make sure that your computer won't end up being the source of bad smells in your home.

Air fresheners, pine scent, anti-tobacco?

It's not uncommon for people to smoke while working at their computer. The end result of doing that surprised me a lot so let me fill you in on the details:

We have read this thread - How can I remove the smell of cigarettes from my computer? - started by tio:

"I'm a smoker, and of course I smoke in front of the computer when I'm at home. Last Friday I moved out from my mother's house to my own, and since the computers were always turned on and the room was one where everybody could smoke, the smell didn't bother me.
At my new home, I turned them on, about 15 minutes ago, and now I'm dying because of the smell of cigarettes (this may be kind of stupid to hear from a smoker, but I hope some of you understand).
This solution has to be relatively quick, because I can't stay without the desktop and the server for one week, for example.
Tomorrow, I'm going to open them both, and remove all dust there is inside, this should clear some of the smell, but probably won't remove it completely.
Does anyone know a technique to get rid of the smell?"


Oblivious as only I know how to be, I had no idea I could stink up my laptop like that. However, I did not put his theory to the test - taking it to a non-smoking environment and starting it up to get the familiar feeling of "momma's place". So I guess he has that going for him, which is nice.

So, what I understand from his comment is that he never cleaned up his computer and possibly also might have used it as an ashtray. I just cannot wrap my head around having the computer running for 15 minutes and hardly being able to breathe clean air in a room. I honestly cannot.

I made up a theory which all of you can test. Start your laptop/desktop, light up a cigarette and keep it near the fan. Of course, all the smoke will be sucked into the fan. But you have to have "hairballs" in there for it to stink up.

So, the conclusion here is that smoking can harm the ones around you INCLUDING your computer. What kind of person are you? Giving your computer cancer and all that…

Smoking seriously

Now that we have some of the facts, let's take a look at some helpful advice from our neighbours on the Internet. The user ciaran suggested:

"[...]Maybe some Old Spice?"


I say suuuure! Grab some deodorant and spray it all over. Just like everybody else does instead of taking a shower. :) That's why we are dealing with those horrible smells I mentioned in the beginning.

Some pretty decent advice comes from Journeyman Geek, who came with the following sensible solution:

"Air Freshener sounds like a good idea, least on the short run.
Taking apart your computer as far as possible, dismantling all the plastic trim off the case, and wiping down everything non electronic with a solution of vinegar might help - metafilter seems to suggest being in the same vicinity as a bowl of vinegar may help too.
The same thread also seems to suggest mineral stink reducers as another option.
Of course, this is a cleanup, and doesn't actually solve the original problem.
You can find some things that don't work here - rice, kitty litter, incense and just airing. Dryer sheets are suggested here, which may be worth a try."

So, we take some of those tree-shaped air fresheners, tie them all around the computer and leave nature to take it's course. I would suggest trying the anti-tobacco flavor. Might as well attack the problem heads-on.

And who was the brilliant mind that suggested kitty litter? Come on people. If by chance you also have a cat… Gosh… don't even want to go there.

But, let's pay attention to the important part of this. Yup, you have to take the time to disassemble your computer and clean it up. I've said this over and over again and will repeat it each time I get the chance: cleaning your computer should be in the Computer 101 guide. I think I might make a Computer 101 guide myself. Stay tuned for that. You know I always give you the best advice with a small hint of irony and sarcasm. How else would you remember anything I say, if I deliver it in any other way?

So, if your computer looks like below, don't even continue reading. Just stop everything that you are doing, close all tabs, shutdown the computer, put away the hand lotion and make yourself useful to someone other than yourself.


A good scrub will do wonders

Now, tio got in this situation to start with not because of smoking around the computer, but because he never bothered to clean it well inside.

Let's take up eric b's suggestion:

"Start by using a vacuum to clean the case and then clean the computer parts with a clean towel with a bit of perfume on it. With all the dirt removed, it should already help a lot. Dirt can produce smoke when heated and even on a nonsmoker computer. Make sure that there's no dirt left."

Mainly, that's all that you have to do.

If it's your first time, use some YouTube videos to show you how to get to the icky stuff when disassembling your computer and most importantly how to put it all back. And if, by chance, at the end of the entire operation there are screws left, no worries. It's just a sign that you did a good job.
For example, take the below YouTube video that shows you how to clean the computer in a manly style:

With all the times I took my laptop apart and cleaned it, I am still amazed that it still stays in one piece taking into account the huge collection of screws I have from it.

It's easier with desktops and a bit trickier with laptops so that is why I suggest that you get some video references before starting. Or at least some pictures. Also, arm yourself with patience. It can be a very tedious process. As an alternative, for laptops, if you're a newbie, consider taking it to a specialist to have it cleaned. It's a safe bet rather than you doing it yourself.


Overall, consider the computer to be your child. I know some of you already do. Just give it a bath once in a while. FIGURATIVELY. By bath I mean a clean - very little to no water.

Using a vacuum cleaner is also a smart idea. It can clear up all the dust in no time, but for in-between parts, you still have to do the dirty work yourself. I would suggest the vacuum only if you are trying to clean up a desktop computer.


Alrighty, so as a conclusion, I won't tell you how to live your life regarding the choices that you make as far as smoking is concerned, but I will tell you how to treat your computer cause God dammit she's a lady. So less dusting around the household and more dusting inside the PC case. :) Please!
Take care and see you all next week.