How do you clean your vintage computers?

william degnan billdegnan at
Thu Jan 19 11:28:52 CST 2017

On Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 12:18 PM, Andy Cloud <r3trohub at> wrote:

> Hey all,
> So one of my recent acquisitions is looking quite grubby, outside it just
> looks like surface dirt on the plastic, inside seems dusty/basement dirty.
> My question comes in two parts:
> 1. What do you use to clean the exterior plastic and/or metal if
> applicable? I'm always worried about staining the plastic using strong
> solvent... could you also include what type of cloth/sponge/anything you
> use :)
> 2. You guessed it! What about internally? I've heard isopropyl is really
> good, but how do you apply it? What do you use to apply it in order to make
> the board shine as if it was just bought!? :D or if you use anything other
> than isopropyl...
> I also have a bonus question, how do you ground yourself to ensure you
> don't blow a component? Is an ESD wrist strap good enough?
> I absolutely love this group, really enjoyed your previous answers
> regarding rarest/unusual machines!!
> -Andy

You really need a decision tree but there is my process

1.  vacuum or blow out debris, outside.  I have used a leaf blower before
for really nasty machines, or very delicate vacuuming, all depends.  Goal -
remove all loose dust, particles, anything that would gunk up a cleaning

2.   Soap and water, inside and out.  There is nothing wrong with using
soap and water on a computer board, hand dish soap.  Just dry well.  Use a
blow dryer or fan, depends on how delicate

3.  Windex or glass cleaner for glass surfaces only.

4.  Magic Eraser works great for plastic covers after you've washed with
soap.  Or use that whitening compound everyone uses for yellowed cases.
Forget the name.

5.  De-oxit for connectors and pins and such

6.  Isopropyl alcohol for finishing touches, with a q-tip cotton swab.

Use common sense.  Teletypes for example would not be the same cleaning
process as a surface mount laptop board.



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