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MacBook (13") Special Report: Stains appearing at palm rests; cleaning and protecting -- Apple acknowledges

MacBook (13") Special Report: Stains appearing at palm rests; cleaning and protecting -- Apple acknowledges

Several MacFixIt readers have reported an issue where the MacBook's case become discolored around the palm reset area and other spots (usually with an orange/brown/yellow color).

It appears that this issue is caused by a chemical reaction in the plastic with skin oils.

Apple has officially posted a support document indicating that users noticing discoloration should contact AppleCare for service.

As described by one reader:

"My white MacBook has been owned for 10 days and mine is a reddish color where my right hand rests and also on the clicker where my right thumb rests. The right side is the worse because I usually leave that hand in place while doing other things with my left hand. Hadn't even noticed that I used a computer this way until this problem developed and I started to pay attention."

Christian Willis adds:

"I have also just noticed this issue last night before reading your news article. The area at the edge to the right of the trackpad (where I rest my right palm while using the trackpad) and the trackpad area itself has began turning a yellowish color. I will attempt cleaning it with 409 (which always did the trick on my previous laptop, an iBook G4) and see it if has any effect."

One user has posted several pictures of the issue.

An Apple Discussions poster, PhAde, reports a similar occurrence on a Toshiba laptop with plastics similar to the MacBook, reinforcing the notion that some sort of reaction is causing the issue.

"For what it's worth, I'm just logging in to tell you guys I have the exact same palm-rest discoloration on my Toshiba Satellite P30. It's made of basically the same polycarbonate that the MacBook is made out of, and has gone from silver (Roughly #C4C4C4) to greenish dark grey (Roughly #899A87) in the 2 spots where my hands sit while typing. I'm planning on buying a MacBook Pro at some point, and the wife is planning on picking up a white MacBook, so this issue is pretty concerning."

Possible protectant One MacFixIt reader suggests that the product "303 Aerospace Protectant" -- which offers water and oil repellant qualities -- may work to protect MacBooks from further discoloration.

William Stehlin writes:

"Sounds like porous plastic (maybe not fully outgassed) reacting with body oils. I'm emailing that might be worth trying a product '303 Protectant' which is generally used in outdoor/marine applications to protect latex/vinyl/plastic from UV degradation. It penetrates and bonds. No oils or silicone. I doubt it would restore already yellowed surfaces, but might help prevent initial or further damage."

Removing the stains It appears that keeping the systems clean with an alcohol-based glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth can reduce appearance of the discoloration.

But what if it's too late and the stains have set in deeply? In that case, several users have found that the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is able to treat the problem areas.

One reader writes:

"Nothing I ever tried seemed to clean them until I found the holy grail, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. It cleans those palm rests to a new looking state with very little effort."

iBooks also affected Meanwhile, several iBook owners report manifestation of similar discoloration.

One reader writes:

"The observed problems are also clearly visibly on my iBook G4 (around 6 months old). Before that I used a white Dual-USB G3 iBook (the case was not as white as they are now and the handrest was silver rather than grey). After many years the palm rests are certainly worn, but nowhere near as ugly discolored as with the G4 iBook."

Adam Wunn adds:

"I read this article with great interest. I have seen this issue with iBooks for some time now. Specifically with iBook G4's. Some of my customers have reported the green/brown/yellowish stains that don't seem to go away with cleaning. I was finally able to remove them using a lot of elbow grease coupled with the iCleaner polish that purports to fix scratches on iPods and iBooks. I found the product to be mostly disappointing on that front, but it works great with the discoloration issue. So far, the issue has not reappeared for all but one customer. It is pretty embarrassing to open your machine and it looks like you are a mechanic with greasy hands and you never clean your computer."


  • support document
  • AppleCare
  • pictures
  • PhAde
  • "303 Aerospace Protectant"
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
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