Tech Tip: Cleaning Laptops

— The following is taken from The New York Times,  27 June 2018.   Written by Michael Slackman.  Link https://nyti.ms/2N3xon4. Condensed by AN.

How to Clean Your Filthy, Disgusting Laptop

You know your laptop is filthy. You can see the dirt and grime on your keyboard. You can see that circle of skin oils on the middle of the trackpad. So when’s the last time you cleaned it?

Using a freshly cleaned laptop is almost as satisfying as getting a brand new one. The keys are clean, the screen is free of smudges and you fall in love with that three-year-old MacBook all over again. It’s also a useful skill if you buy or sell used laptops, since the previous owner doesn’t always leave them in pristine condition.

Gather Your Supplies

“You don’t need much to clean a computer,” said Jolie Kerr, New York Times contributor, cleaning expert and host of the podcast “Ask a Clean Person.” “I use exactly four things to keep my laptop clean: Rubbing alcohol, microfiber cloths, cotton swabs and canned air.” Ninety percent or higher isopropyl alcohol is ideal, since it won’t damage the internal components. And if you have some particularly tough grime or oil, a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (or other melamine sponge) can also work wonders, though it should be a last resort since it’s abrasive.

Start With the Inside

Provided you’ve maintained your laptop well, you shouldn’t have to open it up for this step. Just turn off the laptop, unplug the power cable and remove the battery (if it’s easily removable). Grab your compressed air, give it a quick burst away from the laptop to get rid of any condensation, then start blowing air into any cracks and crevices: the keyboard, the vents and even the USB ports. Blow in short bursts, since longer sprays can cause moisture to accumulate inside your computer and can damage the fans by making them spin too fast.

If you’re lucky, you probably won’t see a big change after doing this. The goal is to prevent dust buildup over time, which can cause your laptop to overheat. If there are visible dust bunnies in the vents, you’ve let it go far too long without a cleaning. In that case, you may want to open it up (if you’re comfortable doing so) or take it to a repair shop for an in-depth cleaning. Smokers and pet owners should take special care to clean the inside often, since you’re likely to experience much quicker buildup of dust, smoke, hair and other particulates.

Wipe Down the Outside

“The most critical thing when cleaning a laptop or desktop computer is to apply the cleaning product to the tool you’re using to clean, never ever directly onto the computer,” Ms. Kerr said. So grab your microfiber cloth, pour a few drops of alcohol onto it, wring it out so it isn’t dripping wet, and go to town on the surface. You may want to use cotton swabs and alcohol for the keyboard keys and the small spaces between them. If there are marks that won’t come off, you can try rubbing them with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser very lightly, but again, they’re mildly abrasive and this can alter the finish of the surface.

The screen is a slightly different matter. You should be able to wipe fingerprints off with a dry microfiber cloth, but if you need a bit more cleaning power, a little bit of water — again, poured onto the cloth and wrung out first — can go a long way. Some manufacturers, including Dell and Lenovo, even say you can use a 50:50 mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water, if need be. Just avoid household cleaners with harsh chemicals like ammonia or alkaline on the screen. (That means no Windex, as tempting as it might be!)

Get Rid of Nasty Smells

Cleaning the surface can help, but smells may also be inside the computer. For that, you can turn to the world’s best natural deodorizer: charcoal.

You don’t have to go digging through your grill for briquettes, though. Ms. Kerr recommends kitty litter: “Because most kitty litter formulas have active charcoal in them to neutralize litter box smells, it’s a great odor eliminator. Seal the laptop up in a bag or closable bin with a cup or so of the litter and leave it for 24 to 48 hours.”  I’ve also had good luck with diaper pail deodorizers, which are neat little packets of charcoal you can throw away when you’re done. The longer you leave the computer in the bin, the better.

 

 

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