Best Way to Clean Keyboard Keys [Guide]
In this guide, I’m going to show you the best way to clean keyboard keys.
This is certainly not a normal topic I intend to post about regularly. But the other day I decided after owning my keyboard for 4 years (I think?) I should probably issue this guy a thorough cleaning. This is something I had never done with this keyboard so it was long overdue.
As a lot of you probably know, even the most diligent canned air blasting maniac isn’t enough to combat years of heavy usage, various shedding animals, spilled beer, and pretzel crumbs. Inevitably, your keyboard WILL get filthy to the point where the normal everyday cleaning tactics (such as turning it upside down and doing your best Harlem Shake dance) are just not going to do it. This guide demonstrates a method I’ve used many times, that in general, should have your keyboard looking like the day you bought it. Be warned that this may not work for every keyboard out there, but this should work well for most keyboards with removable keys.
Things You’ll Need
Here is a list of things you are going to need before you start. Most people will already have these items in the home but if not go to Amazon and get them real quick, I’ll wait.
- Rubbing Alcohol/Isopropyl Alcohol (Buy on Amazon)
- Q-Tips (Buy on Amazon)
- Vacuum Cleaner with Crevice Tool/Dusting Brush attachment (Buy on Amazon)
- Paper Towels (Buy on Amazon)
- A Bowl (should be fairly large)
- Liquid Dish Soap (Buy on Amazon)
- Water (you do have water right?)
Things You’ll Want
These items will make it a more pleasant experience but are in no way required.
- Tiny Flat Head Screw Driver (or any thin piece of metal)
- Canned Air (Buy on Amazon)
- Rubber Gloves (Buy on Amazon)
Okay now that we have everything we need to get this keyboard whipped into shape, one more word of caution. This process will take a few hours. So if you have anything pressing that you need to get done on your computer, you’re going to want to wait for a better time to start.
Step 1 – Remove the Keys
Time to unplug your keyboard (or power it off if it is wireless) and pop off the keys. This is where that flat head screwdriver will come in handy. With most keyboards, it’s going to be a lot easier to wedge a screwdriver under the keys and on the edge of the keyboard in order to pop them off. Be careful not to damage the keys of course. If the keys seem a little weak, it may be best to just use your fingers to get them off. Albeit, more painful. Be especially careful with any keys that have hinges. For my Logitech G510, I opted not to remove the space bar as it has multiple connection points, and I was confident I could get a thorough cleaning with this key remaining on.
Step 2 – Give the Keys a Bath
Now that all the keys are off the keyboard. Let’s make them a nice warm bubble bath. Take your bowl, squirt some dish soap in it, and fill it with warm water. Be sure not to use hot water as this could potentially warp the plastic. You don’t like scalding hot baths and neither do your keys. Let the keys soak in the bowl while you tackle the next step in this cleaning challenge.
Step 3 – Clean the Keyboard Body
Start using some canned air if you have it and turn it upside down to shake all that hair and dirt out of it. Now take your vacuum and attachment of choice to suck the rest of that mess off the keyboard body. I like to use a crevice tool with a dust brush attachment because you get a fairly powerful suction but you don’t have to really worry about getting too close and doing damage to the keyboard because the brush acts as a protection layer.
Once you’re fairly dirt-free, dip a Q-Tip into your alcohol and scrub in-between the key housings. You may want to put some rubber gloves on at this point because you will get alcohol on your hands. You should do small sections at a time, and immediately follow it with the vacuum. The vacuum serves two purposes here. It will get any more dirt you scraped up with the Q-tip and the air movement will also quickly dry the alcohol up. This way you aren’t worried about the alcohol doing any damage to weaker plastics or leaving any unsightly streaks. Be sure not to miss any spots, you’ve come this far make sure you take your time.
Finally, dab some alcohol on a paper towel and give the entire keyboard body a good rub down. This should get the full keyboard sparkling.
Step 4 – Let the Keys Dry
Now that you are done cleaning the keyboard body take the keys out of the soapy water and place them on a paper towel for them to dry. Make sure you place them right side up so that the water drains out of the keys. This will probably take 2 – 4 hours. You could probably use a blow dryer to speed up the process but I recommend an exercise in patience as you’re running the risk of causing heat to warp your keys with that.
Step 5 – Put the Keys Back on the Keyboard
Are keys all dry? Congratulations! You now have a clean keyboard! You need to put all the keys back where they were before you removed them! Pro Tip – Before and after pictures are encouraged mostly because you will have a reference for where all your keys go. I know, I know… Who am I kidding, you’ve memorized your entire keyboard layout. But it’s still not a bad idea to prove to your friends and family why you’re not insane for considering making a career change to keyboard refurbishing.
Thanks for reading all! Hope this helps someone!
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