How do you clean your vintage computers?

Santo Nucifora santo.nucifora at
Fri Jan 20 06:24:11 CST 2017

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

> 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 :)

I use Spray Nine for plastics.  I rarely use Magic Erasers unless there is
a scuff.  If used to rigorously, it will smooth out any rough or pebbled
texture in plastics so use sparingly.  For cloth, I use a microfiber cloth
and frequently wash them.  I use Goo-gone for removing sticker residue.  I
use automotive Brake fluid for removing paint but do so very cautiously;
trying a small part first to see how the plastic reacts.

> 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 use a compressor to blow out loose dust bunnies, heavy layers of dust and
debris and other particles.  I use isopropyl alcohol and q-tips for sticky
messes or leaky capacitor residue prior to washing.  I'll remove all
removable parts and then wash in a sink with soapy water (usually Dawn) and
use a soft bristle brush to loosen up any crust.  Naturally, you need to be
careful to dry it very well.  In extreme cases, I have used a dishwasher
but I think I've only done this once.

When getting into corroded boards, I use a 50% vinegar and 50% water
solution and soak the board for a few minutes and use a soft bristle brush
or q-tip on the affected area then check results.  I will progressively
soak for longer periods of time with a cleaning cycle until it gets to
about 3 hours.  After that, I stop and that's the best it will be.  I use
silver polish for edge connectors if tarnish but I use this very sparingly
as the contact material is very thin.

For keyboards, I will take them apart completely by removing the key caps
and cleaning underneath the keys as well as open the case and clean up any
dust or debris in there.  I have been considering getting an ultrasonic
cleaner for the small parts like key caps or maybe even key switches (after
taking them apart) but haven't gone there yet.

I think this about covers everything I have done or tried so far.  This
works the best for me but your mileage will vary.

Hope this helps.

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