Cleaning a tv remote's buttons

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by cmartinez, Dec 13, 2014.

  1. cmartinez

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 17, 2007
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    Does anyone know what's the best way to clean a tv remote's push buttons? I already goggled this question, but I'm not entirely satisfied, since most people advice to use rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol is 30% water, and that's what I don't like about it.
    Wouldn't a degreaser (like windex) work best? or some other fluid?
     
  2. bwilliams60

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    Nov 18, 2012
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    Alcohol seems to work the best. Rub it on with a Q-tip and let it evaporate. I've used it every time I've had to clean one and no problems to speak of to date. Make sure lint from Q-tip is not left behind. Can of compressed air does well for cleanup before reassembly
     
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  3. ian field

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    Washing up liquid is best - what usually gets spilled on TV remotes is typically the sort of thing you'd expect to wash off cups & dishes.

    Strip the remote down and clean everything with a small paint brush and neat washing up liquid - if there's any plastic buttons, lay the top shell of the case face down so they don't fall out and get mixed up.

    Most of it will rinse off under the hot tap - with a little help from the paint brush for any stubborn bits.

    Some PCBs in TV remotes have screen printed on bridging tracks that aren't very resistant to some solvents - so probably best not to find out the hard way!

    Nowadays, you can get commercial grade ultrasonic cleaners - unsolder the ceramic resonator from the remote pcb before cleaning, it won't survive ultrasonics.
     
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  4. cmartinez

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    Thanks Ian and Mr Williams, I've already cleaned it with rubbing alcohol, and it worked perfectly. I noticed that some of the graphite on the PCB's contacts had begun to wear off already, but other than that the rest of the circuit seems unaffected. Now I'm going to be more careful in the future as to what cleaning fluid I use for this purpose... if alcohol won't cut it, then I'll go for washing up liquid, and a stronger degreaser from there, if there's need.

    Thanks again
     
  5. GopherT

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    Nov 23, 2012
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    I like a nice soft pencil eraser. No solvents, just high quality polishing grit embedded in natural rubber. It will look very glossy and clean when you are done. The pencil eraser idea was in the instructions of the first slot-car set I ever bought. I have used it a lot. Mostly on telephone handsets.

    Then the next step is up to you...
    You can wipe a thin layer of sewing machine oil over the surface to slow oxidation. If you have copper to copper contacts, it seems to work well. If you have the rubberized graphite on the push buttons - don't use the oil.
     
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  6. cmartinez

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    Yeap, my control's push buttons are made of rubberized graphite... I hadn't even considered using oil for them... but oil seems like a good idea for copper to copper contacts... what other oil would you recommend instead of the sewing machine type? Would mineral oil work as well? WD-40?
     
  7. GopherT

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    wD40 has a bad reputation as a lubricant. Surprisingly, it is an electrical contact cleaner so/water dispersant.

    For the rubberized graphite, I would try I would try a silicone oil. Normally does not make a bad interaction with rubber. Use a Q-tip to apply to avoid overspray.
     
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  8. wayneh

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    Sep 9, 2010
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    One trick I use is to wash the remote upside down, so that gravity helps keep the fluid from washing itself and any debris into the device instead of out of it. You can be much more aggressive and liberal with the fluid this way.
     
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  9. cmartinez

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    Good tip... thanks!
     
  10. ian field

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    GT85 with PTFE is much better than WD40 - but I totally wouldn't advise anyone to use either on a TV remote. AFAIK they contain a proportion of solvent that will cause the rubber part to swell up and go brittle and may also dissolve the screen printed bits on the PCB.
     
  11. MaxHeadRoom

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  12. Rich2

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    I've used surgical spirit in the past, was good for tape heads too
     
  13. cmartinez

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    Talking about spirits... I read somewhere that you could also use Vodka for this task... though I'm afraid that if I were to then my controller could start keying the wrong channels, or end up showing not-so-family-oriented shows, or worse, ha ha ha ...
     
  14. wayneh

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    Vodka is fine, but at 80 proof (40% by volume) it contains quite a bit of water. Water is a great cleaner and solvent, but it's slower to dry than isopropyl. Everclear (95? %) would be faster drying.
     
  15. ian field

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    Isopropyl isn't necessarily benign, years ago I had a Lenco system for cleaning vinyl records as they played - a dispenser fed dilute isopropyl to a soft brush that rested on the record.

    About the time the product became unavailable I came by a bottle of industrial isopropyl - unfortunately I got the dilution ratio wrong and ruined several LPs before I realised my mistake.

    However; an alcohol based solvent has to be better than most hydrocarbon types, these days most plastics are some form of ABS, I remember once I sprayed a VCR snail-cam mode switch with switch cleaner, and watched in amazement as the plastic snail-cam turned to little granules before my eyes!

    Another example; Following the advice of a highly acclaimed bicycle maintenance book, I used PTFE bicycle grease on the gear change twistgrip - of course the housing is made of ABS, the housing cracked open while changing gear a few weeks later.
     
  16. wayneh

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    I don't use IPA very often. I find ethanol more effective as a solvent for most household grunge. Just look how it cleans off Sharpie!
    I was associated with the fuel ethanol industry for years, and grabbing a liter sample out of the storage tanks was easy. Not so much anymore. I don't have a tax-free source anymore.
     
  17. alfacliff

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    Dec 13, 2013
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    I have had a little sucess fixing the pads with the buttons. whatever you do, dont rub hard on the back of the button pad, if you get the black stuff off, they dont work anymore. I found a paint that works to get the buttons on the back conductive again, its from GC, general cement, and a spray used to spray on the back of tv picture tubes. first clean the back of the pad as good as you can, thenj shake up the can and spray a little into a plastic sheet. I use a Q tip to paint a little on each black dot on the pad, when it dries, use an ohmeter to check the resistance of each black spot. you might have to hit each one twice to work, they should be conductive, usually not real low resistance. the coating is the black conductive coating on the back of picture tubes.
    here is a kit available to fix the keypads.
    http://www.alliedelec.com/search/productdetail.aspx?SKU=70219366
     
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  18. cmartinez

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    Excellent advice, alfa... thank you!
     
  19. ian field

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    Several times I've got away with grafting the black pads from a scrap rubber strip of buttons. You need a very sharp blade to shave off just the black pad, the only adhesive I've had any success with is RTV silicone sealant - some auto accessory stores sell it as "Instant gasket".
     
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