Cleaning or replacement of dust guard felt

A hot chocolate spill which drained from the keyboard through the superdrive opening has left a hard-to-remove residue. I had to clean it to the point that I was afraid of, that is, the felt covering the opening to keep the dust out started to come loose. Not only is felt no longer protecting the superdrive from dust, but it still left a residue on a test CD that I inserted.

  1. How do I remove the plastic piece that resides between the superdrive and the upper case? The felt seems to be positioned between this plastic piece and the upper case. I removed the superdrive, but I could not find an easy way to remove the plastic piece. I also could not tell whether the felt is simply wedged or glued in place. ifixit did not seem to have instructions for this removal. Perhaps someone can tell me how to do it before I have practically remove the upper case to figure it out.
  2. If I can not clean the felt more thoroughly, where can I find a replacement for it? I could not find such a part on ifixit's web site. They sell something called dust guards, but they are just plastic pieces which do not look like they are for this Macbook.

Answered, Aug 7

(Posting answer in question box because the question box has more formatting features.)

My computer is working again.

  • I did replace the felt, and I will document how.
  • I then tried to remove, clean, and replace the keys. I had problems there, which I will document.
  • I then replaced replaced the upper case, even upgrading to one with an illuminated keyboard.

Knowing what I know now, I would have replaced the upper case from the start. The instructions on the ifixit website allowed me to do it. I have a very helpful hint about reattaching the keyboard ribbon cable.

Dust guard felt replacement

The bezel is glued to the upper case and can be pried off. Follow the instructions for removing the right speaker, especially noticing the rightmost photograph of step 14 at

MacBook Unibody Model A1278 Subwoofer & Right Speaker Replacement. You also will need lift the black plastic piece at the corner of the disk drive cable out of the way, but be careful of the infrared cable underneath. Then pry off the bezel with a screwdriver, being careful not to damage the aluminum of the upper case if you are not planning to replace it. Remove the old dust guard felt. I left the clear film that still remained attached to the bezel.

As replacement material, I used an ironed lint free lens cloth which was thick enough to remain in place. Cut the material using a guillotine paper cutter. Use some brand of fast-drying super glue to attach the material. After it dries, cut slits according to the pattern of the original felt. Use a gel glue to attach the bezel to the upper case. Lastly, you might need to add more adhesive for the right speaker to remain firmly fixed to the upper case. Bits of stick glue can add some more adhesion. While the disks had more resistance being inserted and ejected, this approach still worked fine. If I had Titanium Orange's problem, I would have finished after this step.

Keyboard replacement

YouTube has a number of useful instructional videos on replacing the keys, such as:

Another very helpful website is: (Removing the more complicated keys is not explained well.)

While helpful, I still broke a few of the hinges while learning the technique. When lifting out the keys, lift from the middle, not the corner. Most of the function keys would not reattach securely. They have tighter tolerances, and I wonder if their removal weakened their hinges. At around $9 per replacement key, it becomes expensive very quickly. Even a website which sold just hinges, if they had them for this model, sold them for around $5 per piece.

It does not take much to make buying an upper case worthwhile. Key cleaning required much work. They keys were soaked in soapy water and rinsed. The keyboard itself was cleaned with Q-tips and rubbing alcohol. Lastly, the rubber nipple can not be cleaned on its inside. While much of the stickiness was removed, the difference between a key which was not exposed to hot chocolate and a cleansed key was noticeable. I stopped midway through the replacement.

Upper case replacement

I did not replace the upper case from the beginning because, not having taken apart this Macbook before, I was afraid of breaking something. When I bought the computer, the difference between one with an illuminated keyboard (MB467LL/A) and one without (MB466LL/A) was $300. Now that I was replacing the upper case, I wanted an illuminated one since the cost difference now is much less. I saw conflicting information about whether an illuminated one would work, but the motherboard did have an unused illumination socket. Furthermore, the post indicated that it would work. It illuminated with full functionality from the first boot, without any reconfiguration. I did a full installation of 10.6 when first available, but I suspect that it would have worked even with my original 10.5 installation.

Follow the ifixit upper case replacement instructions at MacBook Unibody Model A1278 Upper Case Replacement. Step 11 mentions wiggle room to adjust realignment. I tried to adjust realignment, but it kept returning to about a 1 mm misalignment, so the wiggle room did not work for me. Steps 42 and 43 were not necessary with the upper case that I bought (661-4944). I was not able to push the keyboard ribbon cable into its tight connector, shown in step 34. I attached a piece of transparent tape to the back of the cable and pulled it into the connector.

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+ well documented question, it was so long I didn't even finish reading it.


Did you ever resolve this issue? I dropped my early 2009 unibody, sandwiching the drive slot shut. Amid prying it back open, I damaged the felt to the point that I had to remove it. Now the drive is just exposed, and I'd like to add some sort of replacement or microfiber padding to protect discs from scratching and keep dust out. I've come to the conclusion that the black drive bezel cannot be removed, and the whole top case must be replaced to replace the felt. Any suggestions are welcome!


No, I never resolved the issue. I have not tried anything since I posted. I do need to burn some CDs in a short while, so I will have to attempt again. I had planned to remove more than just the superdrive, proceeding as far as necessary to fully view the bezel.

Now that you told me the piece is called a bezel, I found the website, which indicates that the bezel is pried off. I also might go to the genius bar at my local Apple store to see if they can tell me how to remove it.


You guys are NUTS! I spilled my vodka and tonic just reading the first sentence - about spilling a hot chocolate in your . . . what was it, through the keyboard into the superdrive? O-M-G!


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