Cleaning dust out of a MacBook Pro

I removed the lower case of my MacBook Pro 16-inch 2019 to clean the dust out of it, following this How-Fixit video:

At 2:28, the video says, “Use only an anti-static brush to clean the motherboard of dust.”

In the past, I have always used compressed air.

Is this no longer recommended?

Also, on the inside of the lower case there was a layer of extremely fine dust. I used compressed air on it but it only removed some of the dust. To get it all, I used a microfiber cloth.

Also not recommended?


P.S. I would have used an iFixit video, but the only one I found is for a teardown, and it doesn’t give any information about freeing the case from the clips, not the easiest task. I did find an iFixit repair guide with important preparatory tips about discharging the battery below 25% and disabling Auto Boot though:

They are being extra careful, but with good reason. Exposed circuitry is static sensitive and a static charge too small for you to be able to notice could damage something. It might not, but you probably don’t want to take any chances.

As for compressed air, that should work fine, but keep in mind two things:

  • It won’t remove all the dust. But it may remove enough to solve your problem.
  • When blowing at fans, hold the blades still with a finger. You don’t want the air to spin the blades:
    • If the blades spin, it probably won’t remove as much dust.
    • Spinning a motor can induce a current on its wires. (Power on a motor’s wires make it spin. And manually spinning a motor generates power on those same wires.) Any well-designed board should include components to prevent this current from damaging anything, but what if your computer isn’t designed that well, or if the component designed to protect the rest of the board is faulty? Better to not take a chance.
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The reason they often caution against using compressed air is that strong flows of air (especially dry air as in that from a can) can themselves leads to ESD. In the semiconductor industry they go so far as to release ions into their channeled air streams to prevent discharge onto sensitive components.

If you have an anti-static brush, that is certainly the safest choice. I bought one in a Japanese electronics store for what was about $1 many years ago and still use it to this day without any problems.

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