What to use to clean a computer?
June 26, 2005 12:17 PM   Subscribe

Is there any sort of spray or protective coating that can be used to clean computer?

I know WD40 is bad, but is there any similar kind of spray that can be used to clean or coat a computer parts?
posted by gaelenh to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Is this a joke? Don't spray or coat computer parts. I assume you mean internal parts but I'm not sureā€”the question is barely in English. You can use compressed air if you want to clean them.
posted by grouse at 12:22 PM on June 26, 2005

You can clean things like keyboards, monitors, and other external surfaces of your computer with ammonia-based sprays like Windex without any trouble. Don't get it on any sensitive electronics inside the machine.

As far as protective coatings go, I don't know that there are any good ones. Many of them contain solvents that could melt plastic on your computer. Though Grouse is being kind of a jerk, he's right, compressed air is the only thing to clean the inside of your computer with.
posted by fake at 12:29 PM on June 26, 2005

Ammonia-based sprays for the keyboards and computer case are probably fine. Don't end up using Windex et. al. on your LCD monitor or you will sorely regret it. For cleaning an LCD, use only a slightly damp (from just water) lint-free cloth. Ammonia on a CRT (old television style monitors) can work, but I think some newer CRTs have a special anti-glare coating that will also be damaged by ammonia.
posted by brettcar at 12:40 PM on June 26, 2005

Grouse is being kind of a jerk

Yeah, sorry about that. I get frustrated when I feel people are not making an effort to be understood.

posted by grouse at 1:25 PM on June 26, 2005

Best answer: If you want to clean the parts inside your computer due to a malfunction, you can clean the card edges with 99% Isopropyl Alcohol (Rubbing alcohol for those that don't read bottles). For protection against future problems, you can coat them with contact cleaner (Generic stuff is usually ok, I use this, but I *loved* Stabilant 22A... [can't afford it anymore, though, at $10 per mL, hopefully the patent will run out shortly]).

For card edges that are badly damaged, you can rub them with a pencil eraser. Use a pen eraser (you know, the old ones with bits of glass in them) or a fibreglass pen (good luck finding one) on corroded contacts to make them shine again.
posted by shepd at 1:35 PM on June 26, 2005

Wow. Interesting. I assume this would be a restoration job on a machine of some non-generic worth.

I use rubbing alcohol to clean internal surfaces as well, and very occasionally to daub contacts that are covered in fur that won't come off with compressed air. I use a Kensington spray and Fellowes wipes designed specifically for LCD screens and have had no problems over a couple of years with a lab full of LCDs. Keyboards and mice can be cleaned with alcohol as well, though they are so cheap to replace when they get gross I don't bother to deep clean them anymore. I assume the scavengers who get them do. But I wouldn't go coating any internal components with anything. If they need to be coated, it's done when they are manufactured, right?

Regular cleaning of the cooling fans and drive doors and ports with compressed air (blow from the inside of the case OUT for the fans) keeps most of the crud from penetrating deeper inside.

Has anyone ever figured out how to get the dark stains from users' wrists that appear on the matte plastic wrist-rest surfaces of light-colored laptops, like the Apple iBooks?
posted by realcountrymusic at 1:48 PM on June 26, 2005

Response by poster: Sorry for the two typos. Let me rephrase:

I have computers on commercial fishing boats. They are exposed to certain elements that require more protection than computers that sit under a desk. Dirt and grime in the keyboard is the least of my concerns.

Recently one of the boat captains spilled an engine cleaning solvent near the location of the computer equipment. He cleaned the spill, but over night the fumes from the solvent destroyed the computer casing and possibly the components of the system. The case is now a rusting pile of junk and many of the external connectors (VGA, serial, etc) are in questionable shape.

So does anyone know of a dielectric-type coating that can be applied to computer components for additional protection? And to nay-sayers, yes there are chemical solvents rated for cleaning computer components. I've used them in conjunction with compressed air to great success. Unfortunately said cleaning compound doesn't work in the situation I am describing.
posted by gaelenh at 1:56 PM on June 26, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks shepd, that's exactly the kind of cleaner I'm looking for. I haven't checked out the system yet (still out at sea), but I fear that the solvent fumes may have ruined the traces on the motherboard. It might be too late to help now, but maybe it will thwart any future problems.
posted by gaelenh at 2:05 PM on June 26, 2005

posted by realcountrymusic at 2:06 PM on June 26, 2005

For what it's worth, you can also buy "marine" computers, that are made specifically for the demands placed on a boat-borne computer. If you need a reliable on-board computer, they're likely worth the money.
posted by mosch at 8:58 PM on June 26, 2005

I thought about this damn question all night long. And I kept wondering, why not just put the computers somewhere up off the floor or in a location (cabinet?) where substances like engine cleaning solvent won't be spilled?

One could rack mount something.
posted by realcountrymusic at 4:50 AM on June 27, 2005

gaelenh, probably too late for you to read this, but If the protective coating has come off the motherboard and the traces are exposed (but not destroyed) you should consider applying a coat of conformal coating. Avoid epoxy since you'll never get it off safely (it used to be applied to old satellite decoder boards to prevent hacking... it was mildly effective).

I don't work for those guys (MG Chemicals) but when it comes to electronics, they're pretty much the ONLY electro-chemical products I have found that almost every electronics store worth their salt stock.
posted by shepd at 12:59 PM on June 27, 2005

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