How To: Clean Your Black MacBook

Keeping a black Macbook pro cleanI know many of us who have recently purchased MacBooks went for the black version for fear of the dreaded white MacBook discoloration. Having successfully avoided the yellowing of the white MacBooks (which Apple has since remedied), you can imagine my frustration when I found that the black MacBooks don’t stay pretty very easily either.

The matte finish of the “BlackBook” is notorious for attracting fingerprints and smudges, and the keys get very oily, even when the typist’s hands are seemingly completely clean. Needless to say, I searched high and low for a good way to remedy this problem, trying everything from soap and water to household cleaners. Luckily none of these desperate attempts ruined my MacBook, but I was still at a loss as to how to clean the computer well.

Just about a week ago, I stumbled upon a quick suggestion on the InsanelyMac forums, saying that the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser would do the trick. Granted, I was a little reluctant to try this solution at first, not knowing what kind of chemicals were in the “Eraser,” but finally I relented. Amazingly, it works! Here’s a rundown on the steps I found to give the best results:

  1. First, of course, buy the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. You’ll want to get the plain white ones, not the new foaming kind. You can find these at many supermarkets or grocery stores in the cleaning supplies section. A two-pack of these will run you around US$3.
  2. Turn off the computer and make sure it is unplugged, and if you want to be extra careful, take out the battery as well. We’re not going to soak our MacBook, but let’s be on the safe side.
  3. Wipe down the MacBook with some sort of soft cloth. A microfiber cloth, like the kind that comes with an Apple Cinema Display or the kind used to clean eyeglasses, works very well for this. Go over the entire case thouroughly, including the top case, the wrist rests, the trackpad, and all the keys. This is mainly just to get any extra residue off the computer before we really clean it.
  4. This step is somewhat optional, but I would recommend using canned air to blow out the extra dust between the keys if your keyboard is particularly dusty.
  5. Wet the Eraser and wring it out fairly well. Don’t squeeze it bone-dry, though—it needs to be a bit moist for best cleaning.
  6. Wipe down the MacBook with the Eraser, going back and forth in straight lines. It’s safe to do this on the entire case, even the trackpad and the keys. Do your best to avoid the spaces between keys if you can.
  7. Finally, use the soft cloth again (preferably a clean one) to dry the MacBook. If you find that any particular area needs a bit more work, feel free to use the Eraser again. The spacebar can get particularly oily, so you may need to go at it two or three times. If you feel like you may have gotten the insides of your computer wet during the cleaning process, I would recommend leaving it unplugged and leaving the battery out while it dries, which could take a few hours.

And there you have it! After going through this process, thouroughly cleaning my MacBook, it looked nearly as good as it did out of the box. The good thing about this is that the Magic Eraser is reusable—just let it dry out and when you need to use it again, wet it like a sponge. I wouldn’t recommend reusing one Eraser more than three or four times, but the good news is that they’re a steal compared to “specially-formulated” cleaners on the market today, and they’re much more readily available.

I have real confidence in this method, but as always, your mileage may vary, I am not responsible for any damage you may or may not do to your MacBook, etc. If you’ve got your own methods, or if you’d like to report your own success with this method, leave us a comment. Good luck!