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.
Wait...did you think I was joking? Man...nobody takes me seriously around here.
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!
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.
A vacuum cleaner with PCB Degreaser & cleaner spray does the trick.