Now that the dark days of winter are over, there's nothing better than a good spring clean to blow all the cobwebs away. This doesn't just apply to houses - your computer can also benefit from an overhaul. After all, a tidy PC is an efficient PC.

Over time, as you load up various applications, save files and download data, your system gets bogged down. This is problematic for fairly new machines, but far worse for older systems that are already struggling to run power-hungry apps and operating systems.

But before you grab a screwdriver and contemplate complex upgrades, consider giving your PC a thorough clean. It's cheap, relatively easy to do and could seriously speed up your machine.

Dust collecting on the chassis is a serious hindrance to performance. A regular dusting will help prevent overheating and keep your PC running efficiently. On a similar note, it's important to ensure air can circulate freely around the machine, and that the fan isn't clogged up and unable to rotate.

Unless you're a model of minimalism, you've probably also got plenty of onscreen detritus you could usefully organise more logically. As well as minimising the number of shortcuts littering your desktop, periodically decluttering and defragging the hard drive will pay dividends in terms of how easy it is to find and retrieve items you need.

Filling your PC with programs and files you never use will slow it down. Getting rid of anything you don't need, while organising what you do, will make it easier to find and quickly load up items at a later date. Just remember to make a backup before you start hacking away at your hard drive's contents.

1. Start with the area surrounding your PC. It should be clean and clutter-free. Once you've had a tidy up, unplug the keyboard and remove any dust from between its keys with a cotton bud or a can of compressed air. Wipe down your screen to remove any greasy marks.

Clean your PC: step 1

2. Next, clean any dust from your PC chassis. Unplug the power cord and earth yourself by touching any metal part of the case. Start by vacuuming the fan vents from outside the case. You can also suck up the dust lying on the base and on the bottoms of empty drive bays, but don't go anywhere near the motherboard or components.

Clean your PC: step 2