The Xbox Series X's fan is there to keep it cool, but it also means it's sucking all kinds of stuff into the console – and just like with PCs and PS5s, that means you can end up with a lot of dusty deposits around the grille and inside your console. If things get really bad it can affect the fan's efficiency, making it noisier and forcing it to work harder to keep your Xbox from overheating.
Microsoft only recommends cleaning the outside of the console – every three to six months with a soft lint-free or microfibre cloth with mild soap and water or disinfectant wipes; make sure it's unplugged if you're taking cleaning materials anywhere near it – and suggests isopropyl alcohol for the console. Don't use disinfectant wipes if you're cleaning the Elite Wireless Controller: use a soft cloth and Windex/Windowlene instead.
But what about the dust that gets inside?
How to clean the Xbox Series X without opening it up
As with any hardware cleaning, disconnect your Xbox from the mains before you do anything.
The easiest way to clean the fan is to use a vacuum cleaner's brush attachment to gently displace and remove any dust that's accumulating in the grille; start with the lowest power setting and only turn it up if you need to. You might want to use a can of compressed air to blast off any stubborn dusty deposits first, and again start with gentle bursts rather than full-power blasting.
Unless you live with 300 dogs and there are dust bunnies the size of donkeys rolling around your living room, that's the most you'll need to do: the Xbox Series X is a relatively new console and the amount of dust that affects the performance takes years to build up. But if you're gaming in a room so full of dog dander, skin flakes and carpet fibres that you have to wear a helmet to play Halo, then a deep clean involves opening up the console.
How to clean the inside of your Xbox Series X
Always unplug the power cable before opening any electrical device.
First of all you need to remove the two stickers on the back of the console: the one above the connection ports and the warranty sticker. There are screws underneath each, and you'll need a T8 screwdriver bit to take them out. Don't worry about the warranty: opening your console doesn't void it, unless of course you break something.
Once you've unscrewed them you can now unclip the back of the case. Start at the bottom and don't use too much force: it should unclip easily.
You're in, so now you can gently vacuum out any significant dust with a low powered cleaner or a portable vacuum on its lowest setting; a lint-free cloth or clean make-up brush works too.
This one is easier to see than read about, so here's a great YouTube tutorial (opens in new tab) that walks you through the whole thing and shows you how the air moves through your console.