How to Clean a Keyboard

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Keyboards can become dirty after periods of extended use, especially if users commonly eat or smoke near the computer. If a keyboard becomes dirty enough, its performance can be affected. Common problems include dead or stuck keys and repeated characters during typing. Note that disassembling your keyboard as described below may void the warranty.

Steps

  1. Shut down the computer and detach the keyboard connector before any cleaning procedure. Do not remove or connect a keyboard while the computer is running. Doing so may damage the machine, especially a non-USB based keyboard. Detaching the keyboard while the computer is running is safe when the keyboard is connected to the computer via usb.
  2. For a quick cleaning, turn the keyboard upside down and use a can of compressed air to blow out any foreign matter. Be sure to do this in a location where falling debris can be cleaned up easily. Turn the keyboard upside down and tap on it a few times. You should see a bit of dirt fall out. Change the angle and tap harder to make most of it get out.
  3. Clean the sides of the keys with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol.
  4. For a more thorough cleaning, remove all of the keys. Do this by gently prying up each key with a small screwdriver or a similar lever. When the keys have been removed, blow out any debris with compressed air. With a moist (but not wet) cloth, lightly swab all surfaces. Do not allow any type of fluid to enter the keyboard.
  5. Clean the individual keys and place them back in the keyboard.
  6.  

Alternate Method

  1. Switch off the machine and disconnect the keyboard.
  2. Turn the keyboard upside down and remove all the screws.
  3. Lift the top half of the keyboard (The one with the keys on it) off and put the bottom half to one side.
    • There may be some clips on the keyboard, also, check for screws hidden under labels.
  4. Turn the top half around so that you can see the backs of the keys, squeeze the tabs on each key to remove it, the space-bar will have a metal rod, this may be a pain to refit, but is not impossible.
  5. Fill a bowl with hot soapy water (Fairy Liquid works well)
  6. Dump the keys into the bowl and scrub with a brush.
  7. Remove the keys and leave to dry or dry with a hair dryer.
  8. Place the empty top half of the keyboard into the bowl and scrub until clean.
  9. Once everything is dry, reassemble the keyboard.
  10. Press both halves of the keyboard firmly together, if you miss the clips in the middle your keys wont reach the circuits and wont spring up.
  11. Plug in your keyboard, switch on your PC, enjoy!

Further Alternate Method

  1. As mentioned previously, disconnect keyboard from computer.
  2. Obtain a butter knife, a j-cloth and some all-purpose cleaner.
  3. Wrap the blade of the butter knife in the j-cloth, ensuring the cloth is as tight as possible. (Depending on the knife, you may simply want to just place the knife blade in the center of the cloth and pull the corners back, creating a one-layer thick cover over the blade)
  4. Soak the cloth covered knife in said all-purpose cleaner.
  5. Using considerable force, place the knife inbetween the dirty grooves of your keyboard. Scratch and scrape using the rigid knife edge to remove stubborn bits.
  6. After 5 minutes of cleaning, remove the j-cloth from knife, soak and wring. Re-soak in all-purpose cleaner and reapply to blade.
  7. Repeat until keyboard is clean. Be careful to avoid exposed electronic circuitry when scraping if you are using a cheaper keyboard.

Tips

  • Some people actually wash the keyboard in a dishwasher. Dont attempt to clean a keyboard that way unless youre willing to risk losing the keyboard. If you do put a keyboard through the dishwasher, make sure the keyboard is completely dry before using it. This should definitely be avoided with wireless keyboards.
  • You can remove all keys from your keyboard, put them in a little closed bag (like for socks) and wash them with your clothes in the washing machine. Clean the keyboard skeleton with your vacuum cleaner and a wet rag.
  • Consider leaving the space bar in place. It is hardest to get back on and easiest to break.
  • If you forget the order in which the keys on your keyboard go, simply boot up your computer. Go to Start>All Programs>Accessories>Accessibility>On Screen Keyboard This will give you a keyboard on the screen, which you can simply copy the order of letters/numbers/characters off.
  • Or, simply take a picture of the keyboard with your digital camera before you start pulling the keys off.
  • Laptop keyboards are a bit different. It is not usually necessary to remove keys from a laptop in order to clean it. Isopropyl alcohol and Q-Tips or compressed air is usually enough.
  • The keys on a laptop can be difficult to replace, especially keys like the space bar and the Enter key, which have a separate support under them that needs to be installed along with the key.
  • An alternative to compressed air is to use an electric hair dryer with the blower on high. It matters little if the heat is on or off. Its great for dusting too.

Warnings

  • When spraying compressed air, do not turn the can upside down. Doing so can cause liquid propellant to spray into the keyboard, damaging it. Also, be sure to use the compressed air in a well ventilated area.
  • If you remove the keys, keep them away from small children or pets. Loose keys pose a choking hazard.
  • Do not inhale the contents of the compressed air. While its safe to use in a ventilated area, the concentrated contents are toxic and could injure or kill you.

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