Can I pay someone to clean the insides of my laptop?
March 3, 2018 11:06 AM   Subscribe

I spilled some sugary beverage on my laptop. It's working now, but I feel like the spill bodes poorly for my laptop's long-term survival. Can I pay a service to take it apart and clean the insides? Does this service exist in Chicago? Does it cost a million dollars?

Geek Squad claims they'll do it, but they were very, very cagey about price.

It's a four-year-old MacBook Pro. It survived a water spill 2+ years ago. Everything is backed up. Right now it really does seem to be fine except the keys are kinda sticky.

I do not want to take it apart myself. I don't particularly want to package and mail it myself, but I guess I would in a pinch. A company that mails it somewhere else (like Geek Squad) is fine.
posted by goodbyewaffles to Technology (8 answers total)
Any laptop repair place can do this. Look up reviews for places in your city. It will be cheap and any place that isn't Geek Squad will be able to give you a quote.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:24 AM on March 3, 2018

Yeah this might have been a dumb question. I got spooked by how weird Best Buy was about it and started thinking it was a really specialty service (especially for a Mac).

Would happily take recs for a good Mac repair place in Chicago, though!
posted by goodbyewaffles at 11:32 AM on March 3, 2018

It would help if you could narrow down where you are. Most of these places that can clean your computer, Geek Squad excepted, tend to be local mom-and-pop joints or very small chains.
posted by DrGail at 1:20 PM on March 3, 2018

It probably would not be worth it to engage them for such a minor problem (as your laptop is fully functioning), but there is an Apple hardware repair expert that I am aware of through his youtube channel located in NY. He seems like the preeminent Mac repair shop from what I've seen, and charges much less than Apple would, while being much more competent than say, Best Buy, though I have not used his service, him and his shop would be the first to come to mind if I had a major problem with Mac hardware.

I would check his website and youtube channel.

Just came to mind immediately, again never used their service but have watched some of his youtube content out of curiosity.
posted by hypercomplexsimplicity at 2:18 PM on March 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

DrGail, I am in Chicago :) I guess I’d rather not take a bus to Beverly or Hegewisch or some other remote corner of the city, but I would if they’ll fix my expensive computer!
posted by goodbyewaffles at 3:12 PM on March 3, 2018

Just clean your keys. You can pry them off with your fingers, swish the little plastic hinge around in some warm water or alcohol, and pop them right back in. I just did this a week ago on a macbook. I Didn't actually do every key because it takes forever, but I cleaned the bad ones and they work fine now. This one had wine spilled on it.

If you look at videos of a macbook being taken apart, you'll see that the keyboard has to be ripped away from the chassis or whatever hardware it's adhered to (I don't remember exactly) in order to replace it, and my point in telling you that is, in my opinion, anything underneath the keyboard is pretty well protected against spills, as the underside of the keyboard is both glued on and made out of a flexible plastic material that water is not likely to seep through.

Anyway, the risk of any internal hardware shorting out disappeared as soon as the water evaporated from the spill, so now there's only going to be some sugary residue, and computer hardware is surprisingly resilient against that kind of thing. When you pay someone to clean the inside of your computer, you're asking them to meticulously remove all kinds of tiny screws and connectors by hand, which takes a good deal of time even if you're used to doing it every day (which makes it expensive), you run the risk of damaging something in the process, and you'll never know if anyone actually cleaned anything.

It's like, uh, elective surgery. Don't do it unless it's necessary, ya know?
posted by mammal at 4:31 PM on March 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

While I haven't used them, I have stopped by a few times and their shop seemed very professional - Lapin Systems
posted by Sophont at 5:13 PM on March 3, 2018

Given mammal's description of MacBook keyboards... and your "it's just sticky". I would find a can of Contact Cleaner and just go at spraying down the keyboard and smashing keys and sorta holding it vertical so the liquid drains and drips away.

This sounds horribly scary, but I remember back in my younger days at the PC repair shop using stuff like this like it was magic water that didn't damage the computer. Turn it off (duh), Spray and bang the keys to let it wash away crud. Wait a bit, it evaporates into nothing really quick.

I imagine this is what a 'tech' at a 'shop' would do.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:49 PM on March 3, 2018

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