General discussion

What is the best way to clean a keyboard?

Aug 4, 2017 5:30PM PDT

Hello, I love reading the valuable help offered on these posts. Today I have a question: Much like the ray of light illuminated the location of the Ark for Indiana Jones in the Raiders of the Lost Ark on that special day, today the sun shone on my keyboard to illuminate all the disgusting grunge sitting under the keys.

I panicked and banged on it repeatedly over the tub, but when I brought it back, there was still a considerable amount of grunge still in there. I spent a half hour picking out yuck with a bent paper clip alternating with vacuuming and then wiped it all down with a disinfectant wipe. I know there is still stuff in there, but for the sake of my sanity, I will have to pretend I got everything... for now.

I once tried washing my keyboard after reading a recommendation in an article online. It was supposed to be safe and effective at removing grunge. That was the keyboard before I suddenly needed to buy this one. Just what is a "sufficient amount of drying time" for electronics, anyway?

It occurs to me that keyboards should come with crumb trays -- like toasters. Or that the manufacturer should specifically describe how to clean safely. So what is the best way to clean a keyboard? Are there models that are easier to clean than others?

Inquiring minds want to know! Thanks for reading my question Happy Kindest regards.

--Submitted by Lynda B.

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Not necessarily a recommendation...
Aug 11, 2017 5:50PM PDT

...but I recently pried off all the keys of my Corsair illuminated gaming keyboard, scrubbed it with a toothbrush and some 409, then rinsed it off in the shower. I tossed the keys in a Ziploc bag with some water and dish-washing detergent, then rinsed them in a colander. I left it all out on the porch (I'm in Los Angeles, so rain was not a problem) for three days until I was pretty sure it was completely dry, then reassembled and plugged it in. Aside from one momentary glitch with my "H" key, the keyboard looks and works like new.

Now, full disclosure, I was half looking for an excuse to buy a new keyboard, so I wouldn't have been too disappointed if it hadn't worked! Wink

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Two steps to clean a laptop keyboard
Aug 11, 2017 5:56PM PDT

First, to get the cookie crumbs out of a keyboard, the best bet is to use compressed air, readily available at Best Buy, Staples, etc. Direct the nozzle between the various keys and blast away. Shame! Eating or drinking near a computer begs for an accident!

Next, to clean the tops of the keys themselves, the touchpad, the lid (other side of screen), use inexpensive isopropyl alcohol and a clean cloth (a rag, actually). Dampen the cloth with alcohol, and wipe the keys and other areas carefully. You do not want to pull off any of the keys. Windex or similar is a suitable and equally inexpensive mild solvent, as an alternative.

Clean your keyboard in this exact order, compressed air then wipe the keys.

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Cleaning your keyboard
Aug 11, 2017 6:02PM PDT

Put the keyboard in your bath tub, fill it with water, let it soak for a couple of hours. Take it out of the bathtub and let it dry out for a couple of days. This DOES work. If the only problem is junk underneath the keys then you can remove the key caps and clean it that way.

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Do what electronics techs do..
Aug 11, 2017 6:31PM PDT

So, first tap the keyboard to get the loose stuff out, then the canned air to get the stubborn loose stuff. Next to get the "gunk". There are Electronics cleaners out in the world, one is Tun-O-Wash, made by chemtronics. (You can get some at Frys.) Take the keyboard outside and spray in between the keys and on the keys. The chemicals get it clean OK. (Not sterilized, but pretty clean.) The cleaner leaves no residue, and is non-conductive. (Just be sure you are outside, as the chems are not good to breathe.)
That being said, unless you have a very expensive keyboard or so used to it that you cannot be separated from it, just buy a new one.

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Cleaning a Keyboard can be time consuming and tricky!!
Aug 11, 2017 8:44PM PDT

Some materials do not get along with alcohol, especially some plastics. Also, most disinfectant wipes contain alcohol. It can cause some plastics to 'weld' together. It can also remove some finish processes (paint or decals).

I didn't see it mentioned, but I have seen some people apply acetone. This definitely will destroy most plastics. Avoid it!!

Washing keyboards with detergents, soaps, and water or use of harsh chemicals can destroy any of the electronics contained within. Sometimes it is the residue left behind on the circuits that cause 'short circuits.' It doesn't always stop the circuits from performing their function, but it may shorten their active lives.

Canned air uses air and freon to force things from hiding, but it may also force some particles farther inside the keyboard housing.

The best two methods I have seen mentioned are the use of a brush, and the use of a vacuum.

For stubbornly attached particles, ensure that the keyboard / computer is de-energized, and using q-tips dampened in a light mixture of liquid dishwashing soap in water rub the sticky substances, stubbornly attached dirt particles, and stains out of hiding. Then remove them, and give the surface a 'rinse' with a damp q-tip dipped in distilled water (to prevent any mineral deposits from being left behind). After an hour passes, allowing all surfaces to dry, re-energize the computer / keyboard.

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No water clean keyboard
Aug 11, 2017 11:34PM PDT

Actually its a very good question,i dont recommend plunging it in a bowl of soapy water,im always looking for ideas as well,i bought a soft paint brush,not a cheap one,and run it along in-between the keys to remove all that bad dust that keeps coming back,a can of air will blast it away as well but it doesnt always get it all,also i found the can of air can leave wet spots and you have to wipe it off,you will find for better results clean it before turning your computer on,otherwise strange things will appear on the screen,also there is a chance you might open something and delete it,and not know about it till you start using your computer,dont be afraid to get in with the paint brush,that seems to solve all the grunge that catches between and under the keys,i also use a vacuum cleaner,i haven't come up with a good way to clean the face of the keys,they get filthy some cleaners are hard on the keys and will take the letter and numbers off,hope this helps you...

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Aug 12, 2017 4:47PM PDT

I know it's a bit of fun but.
1 Don't eat toast, chips (crisps) over your keyboard.
2 Keep liquids well away.
3 Give it a blast of canned air every once in a while.

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Cleaning keyboards
Aug 12, 2017 12:21AM PDT

I've been using the dishwasher for years. My success rate is about 90%-some keyboards need more than cleaning. Many large companies use water to clean electronics.
Place the keyboard in the dishwasher upside down, to facilitate cleaning and draining. Use a full cycle, with soap. Shake thoroughly after removing, to speed drying.
I let them dry for two days, upside down, but a hair dryer or other source of hot/warm air can speed the process.
Keyboards are cheap, and certainly not worth hours of disassembly, cleaning with Q Tips, etc.
Try it-you can lose a $10-$20 keyboard occasionally, but it was likely beyond repair anyway.

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The best easiest and cheapest way to clean a key board
Aug 12, 2017 1:06AM PDT

The best easiest and cheapest way to clean a key board is to shake out the big stuff then blow it out with air. Then wash it out with IPA. (isopropanol alchohol) 99% pure is best easy to get online its cheap dissolves most grease and evaporates fast and wont hurt the plastics or electronics. I use it to clean all sorts of electronic items from mother boards to TV's and phones. It is very good for washing water out of electronics that have got wet as well.

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Don't Forget to Wear Protection...
Aug 12, 2017 1:50AM PDT

Some of the best advice my dad ever gave me.

Although I've never used one on a desktop, a KEYBOARD SKIN makes all the difference in keeping my MacBook Pro KB clean. When it collects dirt, dust, skin, and other unmentionables, you can just pull it up and wash it or replace it. Be sure to wash thoroughly before installing it so you don't trap that stuff beneath it before use.

An added benefit of the skin: the soft rubbery texture protects the LCD screen from permanent damage by the hard key edges when the lid is closed.

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Best Way to Clean keyboards
Aug 12, 2017 7:16AM PDT

laptops turn off and use Q-tips with alcohol / wipe down with damp terry cloth towels , Desk top same
next use leaf blower or can air keep leaf blower about 12 to 14 inches away from keyboard. Remember safety 1st wear eye protection. When all else fails buy a couple of extra wireless keyboard & mouse they are everywhere for less than $ 20.00 donate desktop keyboards to charity.

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Once you get it cleaned
Aug 12, 2017 7:45AM PDT

I know this doesn't answer your original question, but a useful tip for keeping it clean: Swiffer dry cloths. They are great for wiping up dust and whatnot. I'm a smoker so I'm constantly getting ashes on mine. I'll go over it once a week or so.

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Nail Polish remover for one
Aug 12, 2017 7:52AM PDT

I read somewhere that nail polish remover would be good to clean the keys. My problem is some of the letters ( one as of now ) is about worn out.

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Keep the keyboard clean.
Aug 12, 2017 8:14AM PDT

There are clear plastic covers that are made for dirty work environments, get one and keep the board clean. You could also look into a projection keyboard that will never collect dirt. Me? I just buy a new board every 5 years weather I need it or not,

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safe keyboard cleaning
Aug 12, 2017 8:36AM PDT

There are two safe methods of cleaning a computer keyboard. You can buy a micro vacuum attachment kit used with a standard vacuum hose, which provides a miniature suction nozzle for the routine crumbs and dust that accumulate. This is far more effective than compressed air cans, and reusable. If your keys are sticky because of spills you will need to power off the keyboard/laptop and use something like a CRC electronics cleaning spray to safely dissolve the gummy residue. I do not recommend plain rubbing alcohol because it always has some amount of water in the formulation and is unsafe if trapped at a conductive point in the keyboard

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laptop or desktop keyboard quick and easy cleaning.
Aug 12, 2017 9:27AM PDT

first off, since you shelled out a good amount of money to purchase your comp. doesn't it make sense to spend a few minutes every couple months or so to keep it in good shape. waiting till your device is so dirty that a haz mat company refuses to touch it, isn't the time to worry about cleaning. get in the habit of when you notice dust or grime or have crumbs or ashes, ect. buy a cheap swiffer @ .99 cent store they are great for cleaning every thing but your lcd screen.(more on that in a second). also it doesn't hurt to lightly spray a little furniture polish onto the swiffer. this will aid in picking up dust , crumbs ect. instead of spreading around. after wiping with the swiffer, buy a couple micro fiber towels from .99 cent as well. wiping it with that will remove grime from the surfaces and also gives it that new look as the day you bought it. to clean lcd screen, you need 2 micro fiber towels,(soft type only) with one towel moisten about a 1/3 with warm water. squeeze out excess and keep it damp not wet. using the damp towel lightly wipe screen from top to bottom, edges if need be. then take your Clean towel lightly wipe from top to bottom. this is the only way you should clean any lcd screen since many are treated with a coating to enhance the picture or reduce glare. also works on your lcd tv as well.

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Never cleaned a keyboard & never will.
Aug 12, 2017 12:05PM PDT

Wow, after reading what some people do I'm glad I stuck with a variation of my old way. Back when my 286 machine was about $2000 and the 13" CRT monitor was over $500... well I forget what keyboards were going for but they were expensive too. A company named Fellows makes all kinds of office supplies & made keyboard covers that fit like a glove and could be removed and washed. One still covers a 15 year old HP keyboard that looks brand new. Now keyboards are cheaper than the $25 cover. So cheap they stopped making them long ago. Life seems to come with countless clear plastic bags. Parts in the box of a new TV has several as one example. I slip keyboards and remote controls in them and cut or fold n tape any excess plastic to the bottom side. Sometimes I cut up zip lock bags for the remote controls... after the bag it came in wears out! I try and use thicker plastic for the most used items. The remote covers last over a year, one keyboard averages 3 months and the others over year. I just toss the worn covers and replace with a new one from the box of plastic bags I started saving from all the crap I buy. One wireless keyboard is about 3 years old and sits on the lower shelf of an end table next to my easy chair. It along with the mouse run the laptop connected to my TV. I put a bit of duct tape on the Esc, F5, and Enter keys so I can see them in low light and hit them without pulling the keyboard out. It has been hit with an endless rain of dust, ashes, smoke residue, and even coffee / liquid spills. An occasional blast of air or quick pass with the upholstery brush from the vacuum cleaner or wipe with paper towel and spray cleaner does the job and when I do replace the cover the keyboard looks and works like brand new. The cover on my business keyboard does not diminish my ability to type fast but does wear out that cover in a month or two instead of a year or so. Put keyboard or remote in bag, make folds and or cuts on the bottom to tighten the plastic up but not to tight, then tape in place. It is easy to do without making it look to tacky! (now that I'm divorced and the daughters are grown and gone I don't hear the words tacky or Mall anymore) I did cut small slits on the bottom of my on desk keyboard for the "feet".

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But how about laptops?
Aug 12, 2017 10:24PM PDT

Keep in mind that some keyboards are part of a laptop, in which case getting a new keyboard is not an option. I wonder if a macbook's keys can be popped off.

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My "Best Way" is to keep it clean.
Aug 13, 2017 8:36AM PDT

I bought an Asus laptop almost 4 years ago and while getting it set up saw an ad for a very thin silicone cover for the entire keyboard. It was only a couple of bucks so I ordered it. Best money I've spent. Fits perfectly. The keyboard is still pristine after coffee, crumbs, crud, dust, junk, whatever. I'll just lift off the cover, wash it thoroughly, dry it and lay it back on. Takes 5 min.

To clean other keyboards I've disassembled them and run everything thru the dishwasher (when the wife isn't home). Works great, just takes longer. Most thin, modern keyboards have 4 "layers", a silicone membrane with contacts embedded that sits on top of a printed circuit board (it acts as a spring for each key, a cover, and the contact holder). The perforated top surface panel holds the keys in place between it and the silicone membrane and printed circuit board. Really simple and effective. But most people are intimidated by the thought of a screwdriver.

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Aug 13, 2017 8:46AM PDT

At the going prices of keyboards and labor, replacing the keyboard might be the most cost effective hence not environmental friendly solution.

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I'll disagree.
Aug 13, 2017 8:57AM PDT

Over the past year the office has replaced a lot of keyboards. For both reasons of cost and environmental the new keyboard wins.

We are lucky in that all the keyboards were available from Amazon and there were YouTubes on how to replace. These are 5 to 15 minute do it yourself jobs in most cases and the cost ran from a low of under 20USD to a high of 99USD.

I consider this repair environmentally friendly since we didn't have to dispose of the laptop.

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Cleaning a keyboard
Aug 16, 2017 4:59PM PDT

I just cleaned two of mine. I remove all keycaps and use a brush to remove the crud. I soak the caps in water and a mild detergent. While they soak, I use a q-tip with a small amount of alcohol to clean the base. I lay the rinsed caps on an absorbent towel-- paper towel will do. I let them dry overnight, or several hours. Make sure they are good and dry.
I have read/heard that it can be washed in a dishwasher, but I don't go there. It really doesn't take long, and I get good results. Oh, to remove the caps use a regular small scewdriver. I also have a plastic pseudo screwdriver, and use it sometimes. Just make sure to place your finger, or two, over the cap while you are removing it. They are hard to find when they flip across the room. Grin. By the way, there used to be plastic covers for keyboards, but there are some odd shaped boards now. I wish I could find those.

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Turn the keyboard upside down and lightly spray Fantastik
Aug 22, 2017 12:36PM PDT

I've used Fantastik on keyboards and a cloth and long bristled brush dampened with Fantastik. Purpose of turning the keyboard upside down is to avoid the liquid shorting out any circuitry. Allow the keyboard to dry overnight upside down.

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How to clean Mechnical keyboard
Jun 27, 2018 3:41AM PDT

1, use the puller, remove the keycap in turn. In order to prevent the loss of the keycaps, uniform gains are made.

2. After unplugging all the keys, gently place the keyboard on the side and use a brush to sweep away the dust. If stubborn stains are present, they can be carefully scraped with a blade, taking care not to injure the keyboard.

3, prepare a pot of water, put the keycap into the water, pour a proper amount of detergent, and gently scrub.

4. After cleaning, place the keycap on the side and let it dry naturally (be sure to dry thoroughly. Do not have moisture. The mechanical keyboard is not waterproof. If water enters, the mechanical shaft may be damaged or the circuit may be damaged).

5, according to the order, you can install the keycap, so that the mechanical keyboard is cleaned.


Irrelevant company name removed by moderator.

Post was last edited on June 27, 2018 3:51 AM PDT

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