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How Do You Clean a Keyboard?

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 3

Computers have become such a big part of our lives that we can't seem to be away from them, even for a moment. Unfortunately, our addiction to our electronic friends means that we often find ourselves eating and drinking while we surf the web or answer e-mail. We do our keyboard no favors when we type while simultaneously chowing down on crumb-laden potato chips or sugar-encrusted donuts.

But even a well-maintained keyboard can eventually become clogged with dirt and dust through normal everyday use, with an unpleasant layer of skin oil or grime in evidence on top of the keys. Fortunately, this isn't difficult to fix.

To bring your keyboard back to life, take the following steps:

1. Shut down the machine, and disconnect the keyboard from the computer.

2. Put a towel down on a table or desk.

3. Hold the keyboard upside down over the towel (to catch any loose crumbs) and gently shake the keyboard. Listen carefully to see if you can hear the sound of any small objects or crumbs rattling around inside. While shaking the keyboard, press down on the keys and tap the back of the keyboard with your thumbs to dislodge crumbs or debris from any potentially clogged switches. Continue until no rattling sounds are heard, then turn the keyboard back over.

4. Dampen (but do not soak!) one end of a Q-tip in rubbing alcohol. Gently swab the Q-tip inbetween and around each key on the keyboard until no outer grime or dirt is visible. Allow the alcohol to completely evaporate before continuing.

5. If needed, use a small can of compressed air (available at any computer or electronics store) to dislodge any remaining debris.

6. If needed, wipe the surface of the individual keys with a slightly damp (not soaked!) cloth in a firm, circular motion to clean any oil residue from the keys. 

7. Allow the keyboard to dry completely, then reconnect it to the computer and turn the system back on.

8. Enjoy your rejuvenated, clean keyboard!



Jul 3, 2011 5:00am
Good article. I'm off to get my husband to clean my keyboard! :)
Jul 3, 2011 6:03am
If you still use one of those purely mechanic keyboards (the ones without lights or electronics on them, and definitely not wireless) you can clean it on the dishwasher.

People may look at you funny though but it works.

Do not, and I repeat, do not, put your laptop on the dishwasher. Yes, I've seen somebody attempting that.
Jul 3, 2011 1:09pm
Great tips on cleaning a keyboard.
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