I often get computers that are pretty dirty because they have been
used or stored in less than ideal conditions. Common problems are plain
old dust, spiders webs, liquid damage or residue, and labels. With
labels I only attempt to remove non-historical ones like price tags from
the place I aquired to item from.
Cleaning should not be done for the sake of it as it may cause long
term damage. I haven't been able to find much information about the
preservation of plastics on the Internet so any information would be much
appreciated. (Please mail me if
you have any information on this topic.) My current rule is that
I do only what I consider necessary to getting the machine working in a
safe condition, for example I will make sure it is electrically safe.
Below are replies I have had, from Internet forums like mailing lists
and news groups, to the question of cleaning old computers. I have
left names and email addresses out deliberately as I don't want to be
blamed for people getting spammed.
Some time ago we had a bad fire
here and a lot of electronic, mainly valve equipment was coated with
smoke deposit with a high tar content, due to the roof catching fire.
We had professionals in and they immersed everything in soap and
water. Probably a detergent. Obviously it has to be tried thoroughly.
One important thing is not to rub any printed inscriptions including
valve markings as these will be ersased.
I too am frequently frustrated by
this problem. There is no general solution that I know of (if you find
one, let ME know..). But lighter fluid (butane) is pretty easily
available and works in many cases. Also, if you can find an IBM customer
engineer, they have a cleaner that is a clear liquid which also works
very well, especially for the grime that accumulates on keyboards. In
really bad cases, you can try acetone, but this often reacts badly with
plastic, so only try it after you've been able to make sure (by using it
in a hidden area perhaps) that a particular case is OK.
Vinyl cleaner for car interiors
will clean the cases. We used to use "Sticky stuff" remover by
Betterware to remove old labels but it has been discontinued. Other
solvents may dissolve the plastic. You need a cow-gum remover.
I also collect old computers and am a computer technician, maybe I can
help. I use a variety of cleaning methods. For most purposes I use a foam
cleaner (such as Servisol). This stuff really works if you leave it on
for 10 seconds or so, and apply loads of it.
To remove old labels I use a special label remover (also by Servisol,
no, I don't work for them). As with all label removers care has to be
taken not to melt plastic cases, although I've had no problems as yet.
A clean paint brush is great for dusting inside and around fiddly
bits, much better than an air spray. Also, a paintbrush with foam cleaner
on it is very good at cleaning between keys on a keyboard.
Lastly, I also use good old soap and water and a scrubbing brush.
Providing there are no parts that could be damaged by water it works very
well. Just remember to let the equipment dry for quite some time until
I've used 'Novus Plastic Polish' (no. 2 grade) many times to remove
scuffs and tobacco smoke stains from computer cases. It is slightly
abrasive but as long as the color is molded into the plastic and not just
painted on the surface this will work just fine.