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I have (well, ok, my employer has and I use) a Dell Precision M6400 notebook. It's a decent piece of hardware, but I have at least one major gripe: It's a dust and...uh...crumb (I repent! I repent!) magnet! And I cannot seem to exorcise the dust/crumbs from it!

There is a strip of metal above the keyboard that is punched full of tiny holes. Well, maybe it's better to describe them as 'pits'. If a sufficiently small particle finds its way into one of those pits, there is only about a 50% that I will manage to get it out. Consequently, there is now a chorus of tiny little particles silently chiding me about eating cookies a cracker whilst I browse the intarwebs.

Does anyone have any suggestions about how I could remove these particles from this machine...while still preserving the function of the machine?

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Take it apart, dust the parts with canned air, reassemble. Or call a service rep or your local IT Pirate. – digitxp Dec 30 '10 at 22:32
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Sadly the best method for getting all these particles out is to actually remove the metal strip at the top and possibly the keyboard as well (Make sure you have at least tried air duster first!). I have done this a few times with precisions and Latitudes and it is a fairly strait-forward and safe procedure as long as you take your time and are careful. Here is a link with a step by step guide for removing the keyboard and Hinge (metal strip). It is directly from Dell and includes pictures. Don't get concerned about having to take the keyboard and hinge off, it is not very hard and in fact is required to replace memory in D series Latitude laptops, which are alot smaller and fragile.

Two points of advice I should give you: 1. Use something plastic to remove the hinge (Don't use a flat head screw driver!). 2. be VERY careful while handling the keyboard, if you drop it or a key comes loose they are a real pain in the ass to get back in place.

Let me know if you have any other questions. As long as you relax and take your time it will go smoothly.

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Good idea. One caution around the compressed air. I have seen it push particles further into the keyboard and render keys non-functional. Better to remove as indicated and try and dislodge. Gently tapping the metal edge of the keyboard on a hard surface often gets the worst out. Then carefukl use of the compressed air. – Dave M Dec 30 '10 at 21:20
Dave makes an excellent point, if tapping doesn't work skip the canned air. – Not Kyle stop stalking me Dec 30 '10 at 21:22
Thanks for the suggestions. I have tried compressed air...and tried...and tried. It helped, but it was not completely effective. What do you suggest I do with the metal strip after I remove it? Replace it? – Daniel Pratt Dec 30 '10 at 21:24
@Daniel Pratt if it is that bad I guess, but if you can, clean it with a pin or alcohol. It's hard for me to give you advice on what to do with it when I can't see how dirty it is. – Not Kyle stop stalking me Dec 30 '10 at 21:28

you need something that can get in those gaps, and have the crumbs stick to them either blutac, or , if you want a proper solution, cyberclean (yellow gunk used to clean computers) might do the trick.

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My 6400 does that - and it is a little annoying. I use a toothbrush and waft the bristles off the perforated grille to dislodge the particles. Some may make it through, but it cleans it up like new. I haven't noticed any oddities in the quality of sound out of the speakers or any other drawbacks. I sometimes damped the toothbrush with damp cloth (not too much tho) and use it to get the grime off the edges of the keys and other ridges.

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