"Disinfecting" Used Computers

bunnspecial

macrumors 604
Original poster
May 3, 2014
7,146
4,166
Kentucky
I'm just curious if any of you all have any tried and true tips for "disinfecting" your older PowerPC computers.

I've not had much issue with normal dust and dirt, but I'm referring to the more offensive odors that computers sometimes accumulate.

My DA G4 came out of a smoker's home. I spent a lot of time taking it apart wiping everything I could get to down with denatured alcohol. That mostly got rid of it, but I still get the occasional whiff of smoke when it really gets cranking.

More recently, I picked up an 800mhz iBook G3 "Snow" that has an overwhelming stench of body odor when opened. I gave it a wipe-down with Clorox wipes followed by several with denatured alcohol. The smell is a little better, but it still has a noticeable smell.

Any suggestions on how to get take care of this specific computer, or more general suggestions about how to take care of the more "odorous" computers you encounter?
 

havokalien

macrumors 6502a
Apr 27, 2006
650
49
Kelso, Wa
open it up

As for the towers all you can do is open it up, remove all components able to be removed and clean one by one. wipe off the inside of unit. Open air and use will eventually get most of it gone.

If you have time washing them or using alcohol with kill most of the smell. Of course compressed air to dry and demineralized water if you are going to wash them.

As for the laptop I think usually pulling the keyboard to expose the fans and clean dust and debris is not too hard and Q tip with alcohol to wipe anything you can touch would be good.

While inside re apply thermal paste to heat sinks are a great idea at this age.
 

harrymatic

macrumors 6502
Dec 30, 2013
331
20
United Kingdom
havokalien sums it up nicely for the Power Mac, however for the iBook I'm afraid you're out of luck - the smell is caused by the adhesive on the keyboard backing breaking down due to heat. You can just swap it out with the keyboard from an iBook G4, which is what I did back in the day.
 

weckart

macrumors 603
Nov 7, 2004
5,005
2,259
I pulled the keyboard apart on my iBook to get at the rubber membrane. I washed that in alcohol to get rid of the previous owner's funk. Took hours.
 

Intell

macrumors P6
Jan 24, 2010
18,897
407
Inside
Most of the time the plastic and some metal parts for the machine all go through the shop dishwasher. Makes them all clean and nice. If a circuit board or other electronic part is dirty, it'll be washed in an alcohol solution and left to dry for a few days.
 

PowerMac G4 MDD

macrumors 68000
The "body odor" smell is common in iBooks because of the keyboard. There is glue or something in them that breaks down over time, especially with the aid of sunlight. I have an iBook with that issue. It's mostly common on the G3 models though. Rubbing alcohol and Windex are the best things to clean a computer with. Also, if you want to get dust out that may be odorous, or (Eew) soot from a smoker, take an air compressor to your computers and blow the dust and grime out. Before I had a real compressor, I used to put a cone-like nozzle or basketball needle attachment on my manual bike pump and get the dirt out that way... although if you don't have a real air compressor, getting a pressurized air can is better.
 

austinpike

macrumors 6502
Oct 5, 2008
313
44
MN
stick a Febreeze dryer sheet in the tower for a while
could also do this with the laptop, lay a dryer sheet on the keyboard and close it for a few days. (Or "sandwich" the keyboard in dryer sheets if you remove it.) probably not a permanent solution but might make it tolerable for awhile.
 

weckart

macrumors 603
Nov 7, 2004
5,005
2,259
could also do this with the laptop, lay a dryer sheet on the keyboard and close it for a few days. (Or "sandwich" the keyboard in dryer sheets if you remove it.) probably not a permanent solution but might make it tolerable for awhile.
Sounds like a bad idea to me. Tumble dryer sheets are impregnated with perfumes that make their presence felt when heated. All you would achieve is a minimum masking of the smell with something equally sickly plus you would have to remove the residue of fabric softener that would adhere to the keyboard.
 

austinpike

macrumors 6502
Oct 5, 2008
313
44
MN
...plus you would have to remove the residue of fabric softener that would adhere to the keyboard.
I should have elaborated. I acquired a used macbook with a similar issue; I sandwiched the dryer sheet between a couple pieces of paper to absorb any residue before shutting the lid on the powerbook for a week. It certainly wasn't greasy enough to soak through the paper or anything like that.

If you put your nose to the keyboard, sure it still kind of smells like a dryer sheet stuffed in someones armpit. But overall it is -vastly- improved.
 
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