When it comes to networking equipment, cables are often one of the most overlooked components. However, they are arguably one of the most important pieces since without a cable you wouldn’t be able to even use your network in the first place.
If you use an Ethernet cable on a regular basis in your business, then you know how important these cables are for connecting devices together on a local area network.
But as we all know, cables need to be cleaned regularly if we want to avoid them being covered in dust and grime. This is because accumulated dust can cause problems with signal strength and connectivity between devices. Needless to say, when you take into account that you’re dealing with sensitive electronics here, this is something that needs to be taken seriously so as not to cause any lasting damage.
How to Clean an Ethernet Cable
First and foremost, you’ll want to unplug the Ethernet cable from both ends. This is crucial as you don’t want to cause any damage to the cable as you clean it.
Make sure that there is no data being transferred before you unplug the cable!
Next, you’ll want to find the best cleaning method for the type of cable you’re dealing with. You’ll want to choose a method that will be effective without being too aggressive or causing harm to the cable’s delicate components.
Dry Shake Method
The dry shake method is ideal for cleaning straight-through cables. It’s also a good choice if you’re cleaning a crossover Ethernet cable. What you’ll want to do is shake the cable back and forth while holding the plug end still.
This will help dislodge any dust and grime that’s built up inside the cable and in the plug end. Just be careful not to shake it too hard as you don’t want to damage the components inside.
When you’re done shaking the cable, you’ll want to wipe it down with a lint-free cloth. You shouldn’t need to use any cleaning agents for this. If you have access to compressed air, you can use that as well to clean out the plug ends of the cable.
Using a Can of Air/CO2 Duster
You can use a can of air or CO2 duster to clean the plug ends of the cable.
When you’re done, make sure to wipe the plug ends with a clean cloth in order to remove any remaining dust particles. Alternatively, you can use a dedicated cleaning product and a clean cotton swab to clean the plug ends.
Don’t bend the cables too much as they can get damaged. This can make them slower or even break the completely.
Using dedicated cleaning products and a cotton swab
If you don’t have access to compressed air, then you can use a dedicated cleaning product and a clean cotton swab to clean the plug ends of the Ethernet cable.
Make sure to dilute the dedicated cleaning product with water first since it’s very potent. You can use a 50/50 mix of dedicated cleaning products and water. First, you’ll want to wipe the plug ends clean with a dry cloth so you can get a sense of how dirty they are. Check the instructions of the product that you have as these might be different.
Then, dip the tip of the cotton swab in the solution and gently clean the plug ends. Be careful not to push the swab inside the plug end. Once you’ve cleaned the plug ends, you can wipe them down with a dry cloth to remove any remaining cleaning agent.
This is also a great moment to repair broken ethernet cables (see video below):
How long does it take to clean a cable?
It shouldn’t take you more than 10-15 minutes to clean a cable. If you spend too much time cleaning the cable, then you run the risk of damaging the components inside the cable.
Ideally, you should clean the cable regularly once a year at the very least. This will help prevent dust from building up inside the cable over time. If you have many cables in your office, then cleaning them all at once is a good idea.
Keep them clean on a regular basis, and you’ll significantly reduce the risk of problems with signal strength and connectivity.
What about the wall jack?
The wall jack is another part of your network that should be cleaned regularly. It’s important to note that the wall jack is where the Ethernet cable plugs in.
This means that the wall jack is a common place for dust to build up. This is especially true if you have floor-standing equipment in your office or if you’re using stand-alone networking equipment.
You can use the same methods described above to clean the wall jack. Just keep in mind that the wall jack can be an electrical device. Turn off the electricity before you begin to clean it and wear protective equipment. Therefore, you shouldn’t use an excessive amount of cleaning agents or water when cleaning it. Be careful not to damage the inner components of the wall jack. This will help prevent short circuits and electrical fires from occurring in your office.
Cleaning cables is an important part of network maintenance. It ensures that networked devices can still function as expected, even after years of use. By following the above tips, you can clean your cables and wall jacks with little effort. This will keep your network running smoothly and help prevent downtime.
Cleaning the cables entails some risks though as you might have a hard time reinstalling everything. This is why it is important to label the cables. You can also test them to make sure that they are performing well. There are special testers for this that make this process easy and straightforward.
The challenge is that a lot of companies need their network to be operational all the time. In practice, people often just wipe the cables clean and don’t unplug them.
Keeping the cables shielded or in a separate room can also help to keep them clean. Make sure that people don’t have to walk over the cables as this can damage them or make them dirty.
Longer ethernet cables are more prone to damage so try to install the right ones for your needs.
Hiding ethernet cables behind the wall can make them last longer. We have discussed how to do this here.