Cleaning the equipment

Due to a preamp problem (separate thread) I had to take two large boxes out of my wall-shelf stereo system today. I placed them on our dinner table and took off their covers for the first time in four years. What did I see? An amazing collection of dust. Even more so, in a magnifying glass. Including some insects.

My system stands in a living room peopled by real people and a hairy cat and has a carpet. Smoking has been observed although not usual. We live in a city with pollution. Your record may be better than mine. But if you have components standing for many years, you should check for dust.

I used - carefully - a vacuum cleaner combined with a brush to clean up the worst. I found that the use of strong light and a magnifying glass was essential. I was careful not to bend or touch the components. Some can be charged for quite some time even after taking out the power cord. Vital components can be cleaned extra by using a spray-box with air, although I did not do it this time.

Perhaps others have relevant experience to share, including cleaning advice. My current preamp problem may have no relation whatsoever to this dust build-up. I have not idea about the electric capacity of dust threads - perhaps someone can fill me in. My audiophile sense tells me to get rid of it.

My stereo is in the front parlor which is separated from the rest of the house by french doors. There are two small air purifiers which run 24/7 on low and get vacuumed weekly. I also cover my components when they are not in use with black towels. This keeps dust from entering through the vents (tube equipment) and building up inside. The cats and parrots for that matter are not allowed in the parlor.
Personally I might vouch for a parrot or two - but thank you! The towels idea is good. Purifiers may help also. I think the problem is common for us all.
Before I sell something I open it and clean out the dust.
If I own something for more than five years i may open it if it is not sealed, to clean out the dust.
When I buy something used I always remove the cover and clean the inside. I also use the opportunity to take some pics for future use. And not just if I decide to resell, I just like seeing how things are put together and comparing them to other pieces.
may I ask the best way to clean out dust? In my case the amp is on the floor on risers. Always a layer of dust on the top every couple of days.
Easiest is a can of compressed air.
Along with a vacuum cleaner nozzle held near to suck up the dust you blow off.
You can use a paintbrush along with this combo to dislodge stuck on dust..
How about the dust and grime that attaches to speaker drivers?

I agree with the compressed air. I would be careful of anything that might cause static electricity. I vacuum the panels of my Martin Logan SL3s every few months. I wrap a cotton rag secured with a rubber band around the tip of my vacuum hose. Then I completely vacuum both sides of the panels. The rag helps protect the painted mesh from getting scratch.

The parrots tend to be critics, especially the one that is named Monkey. If he does not like your choice of music he will start mumbling under his breath something about being naughty.
thanks for the replies. Elizabeth, your method sounds perfect for my needs, especially the paint brush idea.
Hose it out and leave it in the sun to dry. Another method is get a really furry cat that is NOT in a shedding phase and trap it under the cover of the amp briefly (I did say "briefly" as I'm not into animal abuse) and rest assured, the squirming cat will get rid of the dust. For smaller gear a hamster will work as well.
I am really laughing out loud at Wolf_garcia's method...
Wolf_garcia, we have a cat named Duster that got the name from showing up with cobwebs and dust on it when it was young. She won't do it on demand, though...
Folks, they call them "washing machines" for a reason. OxyClean also helps. But just be sure you use the "delicate" setting when you tumble dry.
I use an electric shop-vac that can reverse the air flow direction so it becomes a very strong blower, similar to the ones you see gardeners use. This blows everything out of your equipment. This is also great for cleaning out the inside of your computer. But then again, the cat method sounds like it has merit!
Wait...did you think I was joking? Man...nobody takes me seriously around here.
When only the best will do

Audiophile cleaner
We sent a preamp to TAS for review back about 15 years ago or so. It died when hp's cat urinated in it so we got it back for repair. Yuck!

The only way to sort it out was the manual high-pressure car wash. While others were washing mud off their pickups and the like, I pulled the tubes and took the power supply of the preamp and gave it some good high pressure soap and rinse :) There was nothing else for it so I figured it was worth a shot.

I let everything drain and dry, making sure there were no odd 'residues'- including under the tube sockets (an easy spot to miss). It worked- after applying some contact cleaner/lubricant to the controls and switches the preamp ran fine (we let it dry for a good 3 days). We used that preamp for 6 months with no worries- and then used it at CES- it never gave us any worries.

However I would regard this sort of thing as a last resort :) - only if the unit has been contaminated.
Now I got it, take the cat to the cat box before you stick it in your equipment. I have a dog with a happy tail(a boxer) and I was thinking of tying a cat on its tail and it could just flip that hair duster all over the place in a matter of a few minutes. After some thorough a/b testing I will give it a review. I just want to disclose before the review I own the boxer and the cat. I don't want to be promoting these animals without a full disclosure.
A vacuum cleaner with PCB Degreaser & cleaner spray does the trick.
Sorry for not keeping this worthy thread awake - busy with other things.

Yes cat hairs are a nuisance - really no good for pickups riding low in the track, like my Lyra titan i, according to the debate about how some reviewers had it far too straight and all that.

On the other hand, our cat Sasha is a very musical cat. There is no mistake, whenever I feel the music is good, the chance rises that Sasha comes along, walks a bit here and there, and even rolls on the floor, enjoying himself.

When the sunlight is almost horizontal, like it is in greater periods here up north (Oslo, Norway) you can really see how dust flows in the air and accumulates around the stereo. I have a big silk carpet since it improves my sound, but I'm worse off in my battle against dust. Perhaps an air conditioner is the way to go.
Whether you prefer a shop vac or compressed air to remove the grime, a brush will help to loosen dust and dirt. I bought a package of stencil brushes with an assortment of sizes. I prefer them to regular paint brushes since they are much stiffer and make dry "scrubbing" easier.
Compressed air for me and my gear. One spray for my amp, two for me. Makes everything sound wah wah better :-)