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View Full Version : The definitive polycarb Macbook cleaning guide.




illegallydead
Jul 13, 2009, 01:12 PM
OK, so I know there are various random threads addressing parts of this, but I thought that I would try my best to consolidate some cleaning advice for the "old" polycarbonate Macbooks into one place. After a few too many spills in a few days, I found myself searching all over for some advice, and it really is kind of spread out everywhere. So, without further ado,

Case

The white Macbooks tend to go from white to grey or white to tan-ish around the palm rest areas after some use with dirty hands, as many of you are aware. The best way I have found to clean this is to use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (or the generic equivalent). Just moisten the eraser, and rub away at the case. It is 100% safe on the surface, and will not damage the letters on the keys, the trackpad surface, or anything like that. You would be wise to try to avoid getting the eraser on your screen. I have not found that it damages it at all, but the moisture will inevitably leave marks that you will have to wipe off later.

Screen

It should be obvious, but I will say it anyway: use a cloth that was meant for glasses/screens! A shirt is not exactly your best bet. Use glasses cleaning clothes, microfiber, etc. As for a deep cleaning, specialized products like iKlear should do a good job. Just be sure to follow the instructions both in your owner's manual as well as on the product itself.

Keys

If you happen to spill a sticky substance on/in your Macbook, do not fear. Contrary to what some say, the keys pop off just dandily to allow cleaning. You have to be pretty careful, as the keys are certainly held in there differently (better and stronger, IMO) than they are on other computers. Simply use anything you feel comfortable with to get under the key and slowly pry up. Again, be careful, especially of getting the object wedged under the "scissor" mechanism that holds the keys up. Once the key is off, simply use a Q-tip or something to wipe out the stickiness, and be sure to dry up. You will notice that the actual contacter is shielded under a plastic "nipple", so you shouldn't have to worry about any liquid getting into the actual circuits, unless you really take your laptop for a swim.

Trackpad

After a year or two of use, the trackpad will start to fade from the sort of "matte" finish it came with, to a "glossy" sheen. There is not much that can be done about this; it is simply wear and tear. You can feel free to wipe the surface with a Magic Eraser, iKlear cloth, etc: it shouldn't have any effect on the responsiveness of the surface.

As for the button itself, it is more difficult. The best way I can see right now is to remove the battery. You will see a small grey rubber dot, about 1/2 inch in diameter (about 1cm for the rest of the world :D). This is the actual button for the mouse, and if you depress it with some force, it will "click" the mouse. To the left and right you will see some symmetrical, shinier metal. Click the trackpad itself, and you will see that this is the actual key. In my experience, the stickiness was mostly taken care of by wiping around the edges of this surface, where you can see a little bit of the white polycarbonate of the case peeking through. If this does not help, further disassembly may be required. It appears as though there are screws holding much of this area around the battery compartment together, and I am sure that by removing most of them you might be able to expose the entirety of the button. I do not want to try this myself just yet, as the above mentioned wiping seemed to fix most of my problems.

Stickers, etc.

Personally I am a fan of "pimping out" my Macbook to some degree (see attached pictures).

The area behind the screen has seen a good few stickers on and off. Unfortunately, many of these have been the pain in the @$$ ones that leave behind that sticky residue. There really is no other effective way to remove these than to use a liquid of some sort, your fingernails, and a paper towel. Just moisten the paper towel with the solvent, dab at the residue, and use your nails to scrape it off. I can personally attest that lighter fluid does not have any negative effects on the case, however, I recommend that you test whatever it is that you are using in a less conspicuous place, shall we say, the bottom?

NOTE: Be sure not to use anything that contains any sort of powerful solvent like acetone to clean off the residue. Something basic like lighter fluid, alcohol, or Windex, or citrus-based like Goo-Gone, is best. Make sure not to use anything too strong (like Goof-Off), as powerful solvents can eat away at the polycarbonate and "melt" the case (thanks dns72 for pointing that out, and fun173 for the windex suggestion)


Well, that is about all I can think of right now. If anyone has any other areas they would like me to cover, just let me know. And of course, if you know of any better methods or anything, please post them here. I know the polycarbonate Macbook are certainly less "popular" these days, but hopefully this will help some people get their aging plastic beauties back what they should look like!

P.S. Sorry for the iffy quality on the attached pictures. They were taken with my phone (can you tell? :p) as I was too lazy to bust out my real camera. If you want more detailed images of anything, just let me know.

DISCLAIMER: I am providing this information from personal experience and online research only. If any of the methods I describe result in damage to your computer, well, it's not my fault ;)



reebzor
Jul 13, 2009, 01:30 PM
Cool, thanks man. I'll have to get a magic eraser then, my macbook is getting a little grimey.

dns72
Jul 13, 2009, 01:32 PM
Oh god, whatever you do DON'T use goof-off on any part of your macbook. It contains acetone which melts your case. I used some to try to remove some stickers, and it melted the top part of the case, where the apple logo is. Some also ran down the side of my mac book, so it melted some of that part of the casing. Now the top of my macbook isn't shiny anymore, and it loogs like crap. Luckily the screen and everything else works fine. If you want to get stickers off of your macbook use goo gone, which contains citrus and doesn't harm the casing of your macbook at all.

illegallydead
Jul 13, 2009, 05:48 PM
Oh god, whatever you do DON'T use goof-off on any part of your macbook. It contains acetone which melts your case. I used some to try to remove some stickers, and it melted the top part of the case, where the apple logo is. Some also ran down the side of my mac book, so it melted some of that part of the casing. Now the top of my macbook isn't shiny anymore, and it loogs like crap. Luckily the screen and everything else works fine. If you want to get stickers off of your macbook use goo gone, which contains citrus and doesn't harm the casing of your macbook at all.

Thanks for that. I haven't actually used that stuff, and was kind of just listing off some similar substances. I will edit that out of the original post. Lighter fluid worked just fine for me; no damage to the case other than scratches that were already there...

Sorry to hear about the damage to yours :(

dns72
Jul 13, 2009, 06:57 PM
Thanks for that. I haven't actually used that stuff, and was kind of just listing off some similar substances. I will edit that out of the original post. Lighter fluid worked just fine for me; no damage to the case other than scratches that were already there...

Sorry to hear about the damage to yours :(

Thanks, but I'm just glad it's been working okay. It still works just like new :) It's a good thing I stopped using it as soon as I saw blotches appearing on my macbook. I suggest using goo gone.

Shake 'n' Bake
Jul 13, 2009, 07:06 PM
You can put your keys and probably the trackpad button in the dishwasher or some warm soapy water to clean them out. I've done it a few times with my white Apple Keyboard.

leekohler
Jul 13, 2009, 07:13 PM
Cool, thanks man. I'll have to get a magic eraser then, my macbook is getting a little grimey.

Just make sure to get the regular, NOT the foaming one.

illegallydead
Jul 13, 2009, 07:17 PM
You can put your keys and probably the trackpad button in the dishwasher or some warm soapy water to clean them out. I've done it a few times with my white Apple Keyboard.

I have heard mention of that once before... do you just take off the whole top case, I am guessing? Most of it looks relatively well made in there, although I would still be hesitant to put it in the dishwasher, myself...

Shake 'n' Bake
Jul 13, 2009, 07:21 PM
I have heard mention of that once before... do you just take off the whole top case, I am guessing? Most of it looks relatively well made in there, although I would still be hesitant to put it in the dishwasher, myself...

I suppose, I've never tried it with a notebook, only a white Apple Keyboard. The keys would be no problem, but I'm not sure about the trackpad button if that looks well built.

fun173
Jul 13, 2009, 07:45 PM
WINDEX will get any sticker residue off im seirous. just spray it on sticker residue and scrape it off with something it works perfect!!

illegallydead
Jul 13, 2009, 11:50 PM
WINDEX will get any sticker residue off im seirous. just spray it on sticker residue and scrape it off with something it works perfect!!

Cool, thanks. Will add to the original post. It makes sense, it is a pretty simple formula, more or less water, ammonia, alcohol (?), and blue color. Basic rule of thumb, IMO, is the fewer ingredients, the safer you will be...