Tips for cleaning your computer

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by joequincy, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. joequincy macrumors newbie

    Aug 31, 2007
    Sacramento, CA
    This is pretty standard, hence "computer" instead of "MacBookPro" or whatever...

    Tip 1: I doubt any of you need to hear this, but it's always the number one rule, and I'm not one to break tradition... UNPLUG AND TURN OFF your electronics before you clean them. This really shouldn't need explanation.

    Tip 2: When cleaning keyboards or any electronics for that matter, DON'T USE WATER. Your computer is full of sensitive electronics, and accidents happen (obviously... why else would you be cleaning your keyboard?)
    Instead, use Rubbing Alcohol on cotton swabs/balls, or a soft cloth (depending on what you're cleaning). Rubbing alcohol has less than 1/800th the conductivity of tap water (that's a high-ball estimate... it can actually be as low as 1/8000th, depending on your water). This means that if you should accidentally get any on any electronic contacts, you don't need to worry about short-circuiting your gadgets. (Good for cleaning cellphones, because you KNOW those get disgusting if you don't clean them for 2+ years).

    Tip 3: Screens are tricky buggers. There are several varieties, so I'm going to break this one up.
    3A: Matte laptop screens and flatscreen monitors (these have relatively low glare) have almost zero protection from pressure, so BE GENTLE! Find a soft piece of cloth and dip it in rubbing alcohol. It only needs to be damp, so it's a good idea to just get a little part wet and then work the cloth to spread the alcohol over a larger area. As per rule 1, your screen should be off... but if you're ignoring that (don't ignore that. Seriously) at least make sure it's blanked out so you can see the dirty spots. Wipe gently in straight lines. If there's a sticky troublesome spot, wipe in a large circular motion, and do NOT increase pressure. At all times, you should use only the lightest touch.
    3B: Glossy screens have an extra layer of plastic guarding the screen. These guys are SHINY, and that extra layer may make you feel like you can be rougher with it. Resist that urge. Use the same technique as with 3A, but be sure to wipe any streaks away with a dry portion of the cloth when you're done.
    3C: Plasma screens, while I'm at it, should NEVER be touched with your fingers or any typical cloth. Go to your nearest Staples (or similar store) and find a Plasma screen cleaning kit. Follow the instructions on that kit. Plasma screens use a special glass that degrades after being touched by the oild on your fingers, and they are extremely sensitive to static electricity. The kits you buy from stores have anti-static cloth and a special cleaner fluid that helps remove the accidental finger oils that get there through normal use.
    3D: Old CRT monitors (the big ones that take up your entire freaking desk) are pretty much resilient against anything. Just don't clean it with a magnet and you should be fine.​

    Tip 4: Keyboard keys are evil. Sigh, stretch, crack your neck/knuckles if you're into that sort of thing... and just deal with it. The best advice I can give is to really examine your keyboard before you disassemble it. For small keyboards where the keys are very short (most laptops are like this) it's usually easiest to remove individual keys, especially since these are usually embedded in the case of your laptop. When doing this, look carefully under the keys beforehand. You can usually unhook them with an eyeglass screwdriver or similar small, pointy device... and doing so will ensure that you do not break the pieces that hold the keys in place. Also, your keyboard layout will always be "qwertyuiop" (etc., and I assume anyone using an alternate layout doesn't need this guide anyway) so if you don't keep track of the order, you're going to confuse the heck out of yourself when you reassemble them out-of place. I recommend a drawing, printout, or digital camera.
    If you have a standalone keyboard with deep keys, often these keys are designed to resist being removed, and will break if you try to pry them out individually. Instead, for these keyboards you should simply unscrew the backing and carefully open it. There will be several layers, but they're fairly straightforward and can be separated without any fuss. Just remember where everything goes, and you'll be fine.
    To clean, use rubbing alcohol and cotton balls/swabs or q-tips. Always clean with damp cotton, not wet cotton. When you're done, let it air out for a little bit. Alcohol leaves a residue if it dries en an enclosed area (like under the reassembled keys) and will start to smell after a while. About 15 minutes should be good if you didn't dunk evverything. Go outside in the meantime. Get some air. Your cool retreat from the sun will feel ten times better afterward.

    If you have questions about cleaning any other electronics, please reply with a request for it and I will write up a guide if I am familiar with the device.

    I do not take responsibility for any offense you may take from any of the comments here. I do not give you permission to take any offense, so if you do I will consider it to be theft and I will have to report you.
  2. winninganthem macrumors 6502a


    Jun 10, 2008
    Thanks very much for the information. Didn't know that alcohol was less conductive than water.
  3. muldul macrumors 6502

    Apr 21, 2008
    West Sussex, England, UK
    Cheers, also didn't know the alcohol thing either
  4. dchen720 macrumors member

    Jul 23, 2008
    i thought we shouldn't use alcohol to clean the matte screen ?
  5. taylorwilsdon macrumors 68000


    Nov 16, 2006
    New York City
    I always use water and I haven't had a single problem on the last 8 Macbook Pro's I've owned; and they always look minty mint.

    I use a combination of damp terrycloth for the screen and Mr. Klean magic erasers for the body, polished by microfiber.

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