How do you get dust out of a MacBook Air vent?

Use Compressed Air to Blow Out the Vents

One of the quickest and easiest ways to remove dust from the vents on a MacBook Air is to use compressed air. Canned compressed air, which can be purchased at office supply or electronics stores, allows you to spray powerful blasts of air into the vents to dislodge dust, dirt and debris.

To use compressed air:

  • Power off the MacBook and unplug the power adapter.
  • Hold the can upright and insert the narrow nozzle into the vents on the side, back or bottom of the MacBook.
  • Briefly press down on the button to shoot compressed air into the vents. Move the nozzle around to various areas to ensure you hit all the dust.
  • Turn the MacBook at an angle to allow the dislodged dust to fall out.
  • Visually inspect the vents to check for any remaining dust or particles.
  • Repeat blasts of compressed air as needed until the vents are clear.

Compressed air is very effective for routine dust removal. Just take care not to tilt or shake the can, which can spray out moisture that can damage the laptop.

Use a Small Vacuum

Another option is to use a small handheld or desktop vacuum to suction out dust from the air vents. Any tiny household vacuum can work, such as a Dust Buster. Or you can purchase a computer vacuum or mini-vac specifically designed to vacuum dust out of electronics.

Here is how to use a small vacuum:

  • Make sure the MacBook is powered off and unplugged.
  • Locate the vacuum’s narrow crevice attachment, if it has one. This will make it easier to fit into the narrow vents.
  • Gently insert the vacuum nozzle into the air vents on the side, rear or underside of the laptop.
  • Use slow sweeping motions to vacuum up any accumulated dust or particles.
  • Remove the vacuum and visually inspect to see if more passes are needed.
  • Repeat as many times as necessary to fully clean out the vents.

Small vacuums are very handy for sucking up dust from the vents. Just take care not to press the attachment too forcefully against the vent openings.

Use a Microfiber Cloth

For light dust on the surface of the vents, you can simply use a microfiber cloth. A clean microfiber cloth will easily pick up any dust or debris around the edges or surface of the air vents.

Follow these steps when using a microfiber cloth:

  • Power off and unplug the MacBook before cleaning.
  • Locate a soft, dry microfiber cloth. This is typically the type of cloth used to clean screens and lenses.
  • Gently wipe the surface of the air vents with the microfiber cloth to pick up dust.
  • Visually inspect the vents and repeat wiping if needed to remove all dust.
  • Avoid pushing any dust further into the vents. Wipe lightly across the surface.
  • You can use a slightly damp microfiber to pick up more stubborn dust particles.

Microfiber cloths conveniently remove surface-level dust from the vents. Just avoid using excessive pressure or liquid that could get sucked into the vents.

Use a Small Paint Brush

For precision dust removal, use a small paint brush to gently brush away dust and debris around the air vents. Any soft-bristle paint brush for detailed work will do.

Here’s how to clean with a paint brush:

  • Make sure the MacBook Air is turned off and unplugged before cleaning.
  • Obtain a small, soft-bristle paint brush, such as a trim or watercolor brush.
  • Gently brush around the edges of the air vents, brushing dust and particles away.
  • Twist the brush around to reach dust inside the vents and S-shape air channels.
  • Angle the laptop to allow dust to exit as you brush it away from vents.
  • Inspect closely and repeat brushing as required to fully clean the vents.

A paint brush can dislodge clingy dust from the crevices around the vents. Avoid using metal bristles or brushing too roughly.

Use a Clean Toothbrush

In a pinch, a clean toothbrush can be used to brush dust out of a MacBook’s air vents. Any soft-bristle toothbrush will work.

Follow these tips when using a toothbrush:

  • Make sure the laptop is unplugged and powered off before cleaning.
  • Take a clean, dry toothbrush with soft nylon bristles.
  • Gently insert the toothbrush bristles into the vent openings and S-shaped vents.
  • Carefully brush around inside the vents to loosen clinging dust.
  • Angle the laptop downward to allow the dust to exit as you brush it free.
  • Thoroughly brush all accessible vents and check closely afterwards for any remaining dust.

Toothbrushes effectively whisk away stubborn dust. Avoid using excessive force or liquid cleaners that could seep inside.

Use Low-Pressure Canned Air

Low-pressure compressed air in cans, different than high-pressure compressed air, provides a gentle airflow perfect for dusting out sensitive electronics like laptop vents.

Here is how to properly use low-pressure canned air:

  • Power down and unplug the MacBook prior to cleaning the vents.
  • Obtain a can of low-pressure compressed air designed specifically for dusting electronics.
  • Hold the can upright and position the nozzle over the vents.
  • Press gently on the nozzle to release short bursts of air to dislodge dust.
  • Slowly move the air nozzle around to clean all areas of the vents.
  • Angle the laptop to allow the loosened dust to exit freely.
  • Check for any remaining dust and repeat blasts of air as needed.

Low-pressure air is a great option for safely blowing out sensitive electronics. Avoid shaking or tilting the can.

Use Small amounts of Sticky Tack

Using a tiny piece of sticky tack pressed gently against the vents can lift out clinging dust from inside the channels. Any removable, non-residue tack or putty will work, such as Sticky Tack.

Here is the technique for using sticky tack:

  • Ensure the MacBook Air is powered down and unplugged before cleaning.
  • Break off a very tiny piece of sticky tack, about the size of a pea or smaller.
  • Gently press it against the vents, allowing it to seal over the openings.
  • Slowly pull the sticky tack away. Any dust stuck inside the vents should lift out.
  • Check closely for any remaining dust, and repeat with fresh sticky tack as needed.
  • Avoid using excessive force or allowing liquid cleaners to get sucked into vents.

When used carefully, sticky tack can grab onto hard-to-reach dust inside the vents. Take care not to press too forcefully or block airflow.

Use a Small amounts of Blu Tack

Blu Tack is another great option for removing clinging dust from a MacBook’s air vents. Gently press a tiny piece of Blu Tack over the vent openings to lift dust free.

Follow these tips for using Blu Tack on vents:

  • Make sure the MacBook Air is off and disconnected from power before cleaning.
  • Break off a small piece of Blu Tack, roughly the size of a pea.
  • Gently press the Blu Tack over the vent openings just enough to make contact.
  • Slowly peel the Blu Tack away – any dust in the vents should lift out.
  • Check closely for any remaining dust particles.
  • Use fresh pieces of Blu Tack as needed until the vents are clear.

Blu Tack can remove dust from even narrow vents. Avoid overdoing it or getting Blu Tack stuck in the vents. Use sparingly.


Keeping the air vents clean is important for proper cooling and performance of the MacBook Air. Dust buildup in the vents can lead to overheating. Regular dust removal keeps air circulating freely. The methods above provide options for safely and effectively cleaning dust from the vents without damaging them. For routine maintenance, compressed air is quick and convenient. For tougher dust, try a small vacuum, microfiber cloth, brush, or removable tack. With some patience and the proper technique, you can keep your MacBook Air vents clear of dust and your laptop running at peak performance.

Method Pros Cons
Compressed Air
  • Quick and easy
  • Efficiently blows away dust
  • Inexpensive
  • Risk of moisture if sprayed incorrectly
  • Doesn’t pick up dust once dislodged
Small Vacuum
  • Sucks up and contains dust
  • Gets into small spaces
  • Harder to maneuver into tight vents
  • Can potentially damage with excess suction
Microfiber Cloth
  • Gentle and safe for surfaces
  • Simple and convenient
  • Only cleans visible surface dust
  • Doesn’t reach dust inside vents
Small Paint Brush
  • Reaches into tight spaces
  • Very precise dust removal
  • Time consuming for large vent areas
  • Need an appropriate soft-bristle brush
Blu Tack or Sticky Tack
  • Removes clinging and stuck-on dust
  • Moldable to vent shape
  • Potential to leave residue
  • Harder to find and purchase

Leave a Comment