How to disassemble and clean your iPod’s mechanical scroll wheel [UPDATED]

This post was getting so much traffic on my old site, I thought I would repost it here and add the fact that I also bought iCleaner to get rid of the scratches on both the plastic and the metal.

The iCleaner worked more or less as advertised, however it did *not* return my iPod to a factory-like finish. Also, the cleaner has now separated eight months on, so I’m not sure how effective it would be cleaning an iPod or iBook now. The short shelf life of iCleaner is disappointing and the results are mediocre. Think long and hard about it before you spend your $20…


Guess who got an old-school iPod for Christmas? That’s right. And what was the first thing I wanted to do? Restore it to factory conditions. I have *not* followed this article yet to clean my iPod, so proceed with caution.

From iPodlounge.

Warning: Do not attempt to disassemble iPods with non-moving, touch sensitive scroll wheels. The following methods are only for iPods with mechanical, moving scroll wheels.

Step 1
Here you have your iPod, Looking pretty and in one piece. Not for long.


Step 2a
Get yourself a length of tape. We are using Pressure Sensitive Scotch Tape, but masking tape will work just as good. Place the tape either top-to-bottom or side-to-side covering the scroll wheel as shown in the photo at left.


Step 2b
Gently pull the tape taught from both ends until the scroll wheel "pops" up.


Step 2c
As you can see this is an easy, safe method for removal. We spotted this method at iPodingand tried it ourselves and liked the results. I’m sure you’ll agree once you give it a try.


Step 3
Here you have the disc and center button completely removed.


Step 4
A closer view of behind the scenes. Notice the steel ball bearings in which the scroll wheel tracks on.


Step 5
Take a look at how thick the disc is. Suprising build quality. Now your ready to clean your scroll wheel. I recommend using a can of Dust-Off or Endust compressed air for electronics. Spray the compressed air in short bursts to remove any dust. If there is any dirt or grime, clean it with a slightly damp (with water), soft cloth then dry it off completely. You can also use the can of compressed air to dry it. Give a quick cleaning to the inside of the iPod with the can of compressed air. Now it’s nice and clean and ready for reassembly. Note: You can buy Dust-Off or Endust at any large electronic stores.


[Update August 2006]

Three further posts that might be of interest to you:

1. Sony MDR-EX71 Review
2. Shure Ec2 Review
3. iPod HiFi Review

[Update February 2007]

As you read through the comments, you’ll see people talking about the iPod mini, iPod nano and video iPod. There is a new how-to site that offers videos to walk you through your repair process step by step. If you’re going to operate on your pod, you might want to watch these videos first…


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