Early 2011 model, A1278 / 2.3 GHz i5 or 2.7 GHz i7 processor.

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How to clean mold on logic board components?

Bought a used laptop on craigslist, and a month later I find out it has liquid damage. I feel very stupid. Somehow everything works except one USB port.

I attached some photos that the Apple technicians sent to me.


I'm wondering if I should just count myself lucky and keep running the laptop as is? Or should I try to clean some of that mold out? If I decide to clean it, how should I do it? Compressed air? Alcohol with a cotton swab? I don't want to do any further damage to the machine. But I also don't like the idea of mold growing inside my computer. Thanks in advance for your input.

Answered! View the answer I have this problem too

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My first thought is pray.

Compressed air - not right away.

Turn off the computer - disconnect the battery and power supply. Let it sit for a while and dissipate any charge in the system. I would remove the motherboard if possible from the machine. I would remove any daughter boards from the motherboard as well.

Try 90 percent alcohol with coffee filters (they do not leave lint). Try to get up as much as physically possible. Take you time. Do not rub to hard. The idea is to get Make sure you use a fresh bottle of the alcohol. The alcohol should kill the mold. It is not conductive, but it will absorb water from the air. Once that is done, look at the board and see how clean it came out.

There are electrical cleaners, but they may melt you PCB. They are good for cleaning any contacts. Take you time and a lot of care if you use these for cleaning.

Once the junk is gone and the contacts are cleaned-up, you can begin to access your motherboards/computer's condition.


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Thanks, Patrick! I'm definitely praying it keeps working!

Your comment led me to do a little more research, and there does seem to be consensus that alcohol can be used to clean these sorts of components, although you have to be careful with some of the plastics that you may encounter. I see why you recommended 90 percent alcohol, since the alcohol portion is not conductive, but the other 10 percent might be. So it's important to minimize the non-alcohol portion. I hadn't thought about coffee filters! I will try that. I figured cotton swabs might leave a trail of fibers, so the filters sound more intriguing.

I will take your advice and be very, very careful.


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Great comments! Is the mold making you ill in any way ?

  • If so contact a toxicologist immediately.

We had h20 intrusion and a high count of stachybotrys (black toxic mold) and MD recommended I leave the computer, scanner etc behind in not habitable condo.

If you have the HLA Type II genotype you have mold toxicity. Long story short, I am close to emphysema from damage to my alveoli (smallest compenents of your lung, where oxygen is exchanged, etc)...also I have cognitive dysfunctions e.g. impaired recall. From an RN who is lucky to be alive.

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Rob will be eternally grateful.
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