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I recently found an old Satellite 4015cds laptop that I wanted to play around with. I have cleaned all the plastic and it looks really good except for two places. The rubber touchpads and the rubber mouse pointer in the middle of the keyboard.

Both of these rubber pieces are extremely sticky for some reason. I have tried scrubbing them to no avail. I am not sure at this point whether there is something sticky on the rubber, or if the rubber itself has just degraded and become sticky or something. Does anyone know what has made these pieces so sticky? is there a way to restore or replace them?

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  • I have a mouse which has a sticky rubber scroll wheel. Maybe something which happens with rubber. The mouse was stored in a box with around 30C average room temperature (maybe hotter in the box) for more than 10 years
    – Suici Doga
    May 9 '16 at 13:32
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I'm not sure how efficient or safe this is in your case, so if you have a better method, go with it - but I found a good way to "neutralize" any permanently sticky surfaces is application of some kind of insoluble fine inorganic dust, e.g. chalk, fine sand, talc etc.

It just binds with whatever "glue" you deal with, forming either easy to remove crud, or just staying there permanently, soaking up the goo.

Of course it will get dirty and look ugly really fast, and the dust - free or bound with the sticky substance - may cause problems with other parts around, plus you may need to reapply it periodically if the "glue" continues to perspire and saturates the current supply of dust - the method has many disadvantages. But hey, it works - the thing in question ceases to be sticky.

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Many soft-touch rubberized plastics break down quickly with age (especially parts that come into contact with skin oils) and become gooey or sticky. Unfortunately there's not much you can do to reverse the process.

The rubber "mouse" nipple is usually just a friction fit piece that can be wiggled loose, but try to find the service manual for your laptop to verify first. If you're lucky, the shaft underneath will be the same diameter as the IBM / Lenovo nipples and you'll be able to get a brand new replacement easily and cheaply. You'd be looking for "Trackpoint" replacement caps.

The buttons might be more problematic. If its just a thin coating over hard plastic you can remove the goo with denatured alcohol, however this obviously won't work if the entire piece is made of the same material. In that case your only option would be to track down some replacement buttons, or possibly trying to seal the surface with something hard like a clear epoxy.

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