Getting any job done fast and cheap often requires nothing more than just the right tool. Take canned compressed gas, for instance. It’s inexpensive as long as you don’t buy it from the camera store. Costco sells a six-pack of 12 ounce cans for about $18. I go through 1½ cans each year. The product works great and, if you don’t mind me saying, it’s a blast to use. Here are a dozen jobs for which it works perfectly.
1. Bagless Vacuums
Empty the dirt container into trashcan, then take it outside. Once you’re in the great outdoors, hold the container upside down at arm’s length and spray it a few times with canned air. If the filter’s dirty as well, give it the same treatment. Messy? Certainly. But the vacuum parts get much cleaner than with other methods. (I beg of you this: make sure you stand upwind from what you’re cleaning.)
2. Camera Lenses
One short blast and the lens is clear. Don’t get too close. The canned gas sometimes condenses and leaves a filmy residue.
3. Computer and TV Screens
If necessary, follow up with a microcloth.
4. Baseboard Registers
These contain dozens of small, fragile metal fins that trap impossible-to-reach dust. Cleaning them with the vacuum’s brush attachment doesn’t work because the fins crinkle at the slightest touch. Solution? Force in canned air along the register’s entire length by making use of the handy extension straw. This expels dust from the fins’ narrow interstices and onto the floor where you can vacuum it up easily.
5. Spilled Liquids
No use crying when electronics get wet. Act fast and expel as much of the liquid as you can.
Take outside to clean. Hold upside down at arm’s length and blast away. Do not, I repeat, do not look at the stuff that comes out of there. You don’t want to know.
7. Coffee Grinders
Same routine as for keyboards, clean it outside. Spray your grounds upon your grounds.
8. Photo Scanners
Use short pulses of air to remove dust from photos, slides, and the glass surface of the scanner itself.
9. Vinyl Records
I keep a can by my record player. One short hit to each side of an album and the job is done. Works on CDs too. Does not appear to be particularly useful when it comes to iPods, however.
10. Lamp Shades
Pleated ones collect a ton of dust. So you don’t make a mess, remove the shades and take them outside for cleaning.
11. Electric Razors
Take the razor outside, remove the blade cover(s), and shoot air at the beardy residue.
You could use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol, but who has that much time for detail work? Canned air cleans faster. Insert the handy extension straw into vents, storage areas, CD slots, cup holders, and that pesky place where the steering column meets the dash. Blast away to your heart’s delight. Retrieve released dust with a microcloth or vacuum.
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There you have it. A tool that’s cheap, effective, and fun to use. Consider making canned gas part of your neatnik arsenal.