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  1. #1

    Member Since
    Jan 28, 2011
    Macbook Pro Survived Coffee Spill, Should I Disassemble and Clean?
    Hi all,

    On Thursday, Jan 27 around 1:30 pm a friend of mine spilled his coffee behind my late 2008 Macbook Pro, and the coffee entered the laptop via the vents in the back. I cleaned the coffee off the exterior of the laptop and I shut it off and put it in my backpack since I had to leave for class (stupid I know, I should have taken immediate action to counteract any possible spill damage).

    Around 3pm after my class, I tried to turn the laptop on and it would not boot. So, I hurried home and I purchased a torx #6, small phillips head screw driver, and a blow dryer. I disassembled the mbp and cleaned the visible coffee stains off the battery region on the back of the laptop. With the topcase off I blow dried the laptop for about 20 minutes, and I left a lamp with a 40w bulb over it for a few hours. I left it disassembled on my desk over night.

    Today, Jan 28, around 4:45 pm, against my better judgment I reassembled my mbp and it works. I booted up just fine and I backed up all my data. Very lucky.

    Now, although my laptop appears to be functioning fine, I am worried that the coffee has stained the internal components and will shorten the life of my laptop, or that my mbp will only function normally for a few days and then will give out. (for the record it was black coffee, nothing added).

    So, since my warranty is worthless anyway, would any of you recommend that I take apart my mbp completely (that is, according to the guide on ifixit) and clean the internal components to remove as much of the coffee as possible? Or, should I assume that, since my mbp is functioning fine, the coffee has entirely evaporated and I shouldn't even bother cleaning it?

    I definitely have the time to clean the laptop (and let it dry for 2-3 days), but I prefer not to so I don't risk accidentally messing something up, etc.

    But, if it makes sense to clean the laptop, how would I do that? Should I use isopropyl alcohol or water? Should I only clean up visible coffee stains, or should I clean each internal component eniterly even if my naked eye can't spot any coffee?

    All in all I'm looking to keep my mbp as healthy as possible with as little risk as possible.

    I'd appreciate your thoughts on this.

    Also, as an aside, the exterior of my mbp doesn't feel hot at all, but iStat Pro is giving me these temperature readings (they vary of course, even to the extent that when I go back to the dashboard to check them to write them here they change):

    HD: 86 degrees
    CPU: 99 degrees
    Airport Card: 92 degrees
    Enclosure Base: 83 degrees
    GPU Diode: 119 degrees
    GPU Heatsink: 103 degrees
    Heatsink A: 103 degrees
    Heatsink B: 92 degrees
    *all in Fahrenheit*
    I've heard that liquid damage can mess up heat dissipation. Would these temperatures warrant cleaning my laptop? I know it might be hard to interpret without context (ie, I don't really keep track of what my temps usually are), but I'd appreciate an opinion regardless.

    Thank you!

  2. #2

    chscag's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2008
    Fort Worth, Texas
    27" iMac i5, 3.2 GHz, iPad 3, iPhone 5c, iPhone 6+, 3 iPods, El Capitan
    Spilling black coffee is better than coffee with sugar and cream. Of course no spill is any good. I would disassemble the machine carefully and make sure you get all signs of the coffee cleaned up. Even black coffee contains a certain amount of acid - not harmful to you, but can definitely cause problems to electronic components.

    Be careful disassembling the machine not to break or tear the delicate ribbon cables especially those that snake their way up through the hinge area.

  3. #3

    pigoo3's Avatar
    Member Since
    May 20, 2008
    2011 13" MBP 2.3ghz, 8gig ram, OS 10.7.5
    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    Spilling black coffee is better than coffee with sugar and cream.
    I had to laugh when I read this!

    Kinda like saying..."A sharp stick in the eye is better than getting hit by a car"! Or..."It's better to get hit by a car than an 18-wheeler"! Ha ha.

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  4. #4

    Member Since
    Jan 28, 2011
    ok, so it sounds like it would be in my best interest to clean my mbp.

    however, let me re-ask a previous question: how should I clean it? Isopropyl alochol or water? clean each internal component or just where I can see coffee? etc

    I just want to make sure I do a proper cleaning.


  5. #5

    Member Since
    Sep 09, 2009
    Down Under :D
    Back to my old 2.2GHz C2D MB after selling my MBP and wondering what my next Mac will be :)
    I will quote from another thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    The logic board has to be completely removed in order to clean it in a manner that will remove corrosion and prevent any future corrosive action. The reason it has to be removed is that both sides have to be treated.

    Also... rubbing alcohol contains impurities and will not do a good enough job of cleaning. You would have to use denatured alcohol or a very pure acidy based cleanser such as pure vinegar. In reality, the board should be submersed or soaked in the cleanser for several hours.
    Good luck

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