How-To Geek

How to Thoroughly Clean Your Keyboard (Without Breaking Anything)


Your keyboard is one of your most important peripherals, but it’s bound to get clogged with dirt and grime over time. Dust off, scrub down, and clean up your number one input device safely with these tips.

There are plenty of ways to clean depending on what afflicts your workspace. We’ll break it down by type, but first thing’s first: unplug your keyboard! Some of these cleaning methods can theoretically do some damage to your keyboard if there’s power going to it, so be sure it’s unplugged and the batteries are taken out.



(Image credit: Ioan Sameli)

A common problem in offices, dust can really make typing unpleasant. It’s an easy fix, however. For daily maintenance, you can use a small soft-bristled dusting brush, like the one below.

Back Camera

A small hand-held vacuum cleaner or a can of compressed air will work well.

air duster

(Image credit cogdogblog)

For more caked on dust, try the brush/hose attachment of a larger vacuum cleaner to help scrape off dust bunnies.

Back Camera


Daily use can breed a whole different kind of filth on your precious keys. Be wary of disinfectant sprays; many are strong enough that you wouldn’t want to keep your hands in contact with them for very long. Try to find ones that are electronics-friendly. Personally, my favorite option is to use an isopropyl alcohol solution.

Be sure to use isopropyl and NOT ethyl, as the harsher ethyl alcohol can take the lettering off of the keys. Anything about 60% alcohol or more is fine; higher concentrations don’t really help kill more germs, but it also won’t hurt.

Back Camera

Take a little alcohol solution and moisten an old rag or a paper towel with it. Do NOT pour it into the keyboard. Trust me, a wet napkin is enough. Scrub it over the tops of the keys, and use a wet cotton swab to go down in between them.

Back Camera

Back Camera


What’s worse than accidentally turning on Sticky Keys? Spilling your soda and getting real sticky keys. First thing’s first, unplug your keyboard. Dump out any excess liquid and mop up as best you can with paper towels. While it’s best to clean while the keyboard is still wet to minimize the stickiness, the process is much the same whether you spilled your soda 30 seconds ago or 30 days ago.

To get rid of sticky keys, we’ll need to pop off the keys and clean the keyboard more thoroughly. If you have a standard keyboard, you’ll be able to find references to where all the keys should go if you don’t already have the layout memorized. For custom keyboard, it might be helpful to draw a quick map or take a picture with your digital camera so you know where everything belongs when you go to put things back together.

For desktop keyboards, take a butter knife or a screwdriver and try to pry up one corner of the keys. You don’t need to use a lot of force; you should feel a pop and the key will come right off.

Back Camera

Back Camera

For laptop keyboards, your fingernail should be enough to pull the plastic up. Start with one corner and move to an adjacent one. Be extra careful, since the mechanism is made of plastic and you don’t want to break it.

laptop keys

(Image credit: footloosiety)

Once the keys are off, you can better use a paper towel and maybe some alcohol solution to clean the keyboard base. Careful with those metal bars!

Back Camera

To clean the keys you can wash them in warm water and/or use some cotton swabs. To put the keys back on, just place them over their correct position and press them until you hear a snap. They shouldn’t feel mushy or sticky anymore, and if they do it’s probably because they either didn’t set properly in the base or it’s in the wrong place. With keys that have metal bars, make sure the bars are properly attached to the keys and that the ends line up in the slots on the keyboard (compare the above and below images).

Back Camera

Chiclet-style keyboards are great because they prevent a lot of dirt from getting underneath, but unfortunately I’ve still not found a good way to clean them of sticky spills. If you know of a good way, share it in the comments!

Food Particles and Grime

Geeks’ diets aren’t always the best. Aside from spilled soda, you may find potato chip grease, Cheeto crumbs, or popcorn pieces stuck under the keys, making them feel mushy while typing. As with liquid cleanup, pop off the keys as best you can. Take a vacuum, then a can of compressed air to really flush out everything underneath.

under keys

(Image credit: James Bowe)

For really grimy spots, try using a pencil eraser. You might be surprised as how well the rubber will peel off dirt. Just be careful that the eraser-dust doesn’t fall back in the keyboard.


(Image credit: charliebobgordon)

If you’ve tried everything to cut the dirt and grease, then I’ve got one last method for you. Take a soft-bristled toothbrush that’s wet with a bit of alcohol to your keyboard. You can clean the removed keys with a toothbrush and some soapy water. Your keys will be looking brand-new in no time!

Back Camera

A dirty keyboard hinders typing, is riddled with disease-inducing germs, and just doesn’t go well with the decor. Show your keyboard some love by cleaning it. These methods also work well with all different kinds of mice, especially he alcohol and cotton swabs. Have a better way to do it? Share in the comments!


Yatri Trivedi is a monk-like geek. When he's not overdosing on meditation and geek news of all kinds, he's hacking and tweaking something, often while mumbling in 4 or 5 other languages.

  • Published 05/31/11

Comments (137)

  1. Jake T

    Wow, the OCD in me almost threw up at the picture with all the keys off. But excellent tutorial, HTG!

  2. RN

    I use a compressor. No disassembling, just pure compressed air :)

  3. mikel

    Mmmmm, now I am ready for lunch.

  4. Daniel

    Nice Tutorial! Thank you for that.

    My cleaning method is not as surgical as yours. Usualy i’m disassembling the whole Keyboard as far as its possible. Then i put everything except the Electronics in my Shower. With a lot of Water and a bit of Soap everything becomes pretty clean and shiny again :)

    But some Keys especially the bigger ones with metal bars have a little bit grease on it. To get it working smooth you need to add grease on the right places after cleaning your Keyboard.

  5. RiotFemme

    This entry should come with a warning for graphic photos. lol I’m having breakfast over my keyboard as I read it.

  6. Asgaro

    Holy shit, that 3rd latest picture is gross!

  7. SWJ345

    where did you find that keyboard?

  8. Mark

    If my keyboard looked like that, I’d rather buy a new one ;-)

  9. Mike_NJ

    My office has some users whose keyboards could rival the worst of those displayed. One user in particular comes to mind; he eats three bags of microwave popcorn daily and there’s always butter splatters on the keys, not to mention bits of kernel, fluff, etc all in between.

    I’ve even written up a quick document with instructions on how to clean them (pop off keys, put in dishwasher on warm, let air dry outside on a towel) for my users when they ask, because I sure am not doing it.

  10. Jordan

    Yep, I’m in the mesh bag full of keys in the dishwasher camp. you can also put the top an bottom plastic parts in the dishwasher as well. Depending on the mechanics of your keyboard some silicone grease around the keys when they go back in may be needed to avoid squeaky keys.

  11. Andy

    Or just buy a new one.

  12. Dapper Dan

    Oh MAN! I almost added some gak-ness to my own keyboard after seeing the one with all the keys off!

    Now I know I have a project tonight – I have a few keys that seem to miss all the time. This could not have come at a better time to make me ‘fess up and look at what is under my keyboard keys.

    (I wonder what old Oreo crumbs look like…)

  13. Wondering

    Okay, I’ve done all that, but I’m no touch typist. Please tell me the secret to getting all the keys back on in the right place. ;)

  14. Zla

    This was my first job back in the 80’s, cleaning keyboards, what fun.

    the best way i found to clean them,

    1 – photocopy the keyboard (for key layout)
    2 – pop all the keys off
    3 – clean the keys in soapy water
    4 – clean the keyboard of all the hair, dust and ‘other’ bits
    5 – put the keys back on using your photocopy for reference.

    10 minute job !!!!

  15. Baltimore_bobo

    Now I know why black has become the predominate keyboard color.

  16. Leeroi

    wow, the keyboards used make mine look shiny. great tutorial. What’s the best way to clean inside my tower?

  17. Andrei

    What do you use that keyboard for? It has so many crumbs… Do you cut bread over it?!

  18. wigglerthefish


  19. Knight

    i am using a laptop….. how can i take out the keypad??

  20. KB Prez

    LOL…where did you get that keyboard? My sister wants to know what the rest of that house looks like!

  21. emkay

    This job is at least 2 hours of my very valuable time. After wasting an hour or so you’ll probably break something made of plastic and have to discard the keyboard anyway. Keyboards are so cheap that I’d replace it without giving it a second thought. If you’re that much of a slob, invest in one of those plastic covers which makes the keyboard spillproof and keeps the crumbs out for good. Just a wipe and you’re done.

  22. Akhil

    haha.. its better to buy another keyboard…
    ny was a good tutorial..

  23. bobby.tables

    A friend of mine used to dismount the keyboard, remove all electronical parts, and put the rest in the dish washer. Worked. But maybe you’ll lose your warranty …

  24. vtzete0

    I had as keyboard back in college where someone spilled Mountain Dew on it. Over time dust started to stick to the Dew coated keys and turned into my very own Chia Pet Keyboard!

  25. Israel

    What a great tutorial! Now that I read it, I think is keyboard-cleaning time! xD

  26. Lion

    This is the equivalent of keyboard scat porn

  27. HackToHell

    Oh Geeezzz where did u get that keyboard .. removing the keys bit was really use full .. gonna try it out .. if anything breaks I am suing u !! just kidding :)

  28. Hellbartonio

    Thats the reason to get a keyboard like this one
    I hope in the future all of us will be able to eat as much as we want right at our workplace without this boring keyboard cleaning… Wanna future to come faster. Bon appetit btw)))

  29. Woot

    We live in a ‘throw away age’. Use it, then chuck it. Why bother cleaning a keyboard? There is a plastic fold-able keyboard available that you can wash, scrub, and brush to your hearts content if you want to do the cleaning thing otherwise get a new one. Long live BIC.

  31. gary

    Simple /best in the dishwasher top rack NO HEAT DRY air dry for min 24 hrs. Sparkles like new!

  32. gary

    To silvertop; we develop an affinity for our tools. Way beyond the function part.

  33. Taylor

    Reconnecting laptop keys with scissor-switches is NOT fun. I wouldn’t recommend it. Just slide a piece of tape through the cracks.

  34. Knobby

    all this work… man there are way more easier ways….

    I just screw off the top of my keyboard (the one that holds the key’s -duh-) and put it in the dishwasher.
    Yes you heard me, the DISHWASHER!
    No fiddling around with alcohol or having to replace all the keys or anything. It’s perfectly safe since all the electronics are in the base.

  35. BallyIrish

    Excellent article – thank you.

  36. Hatryst

    Excellent !!
    The images were a bit disturbing though, better add a warning (Just Kidding :D)

  37. gary

    Knobby be smart! some times not good to overthink! Simple solutions….. no crystal clear!!!!!!

  38. gary

    By the way Knobby, when I say put it in the maytag I mean the whole keyboard!!! Water cannot damage w/o juice. Dry by time or blow.

  39. don field

    Hi, These are all good tips. I would like to add one that I’ve found that works well. I use rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) full strength (usually 60%) in a bowl, dip a 4″ synthetic house paint brush in the alcohol and shake a bit, apply to the keys in both directions. Repeat until the keys are clean. I often use a dry brush to remove dust and crumbs.


    Great tutorial! Cleaning and fixing up your own keyboard and other household appliances and electronics can make them look and work like new again. Although DIY cleaning and fixing not always the most enjoyable experience it is much better for your pocket book and the environment. Not to mention it can be really easy! Check out some of these DIY home repair videos to see how easy it really can be!

  41. tecn0tarded

    i had to keep an old system together to sell as a complete package. the white keyboard was exactly the same as in the picture. I feel my lunch coming up…

  42. CRASH

    Yeah why the hell should I do that when a keyboard is less than 20 bucks?Actually 5 bucks at Biglots. IF i owned a 50 dollar plus keyboard I would just… not eat on it. Also I have a roll up silicon keyboard anyone remember those? If you gotta eat while on the PC grab one of those. Heres a pic:

  43. Ivydapple

    I always used a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol, as you recommended at one point. I hope mine’s pretty clean. Probably full of cat hair. And those pictures made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. :3

  44. C12ASH13

    gag, thanks for the helpful tutorial but wow these images are nasty

  45. Bryan

    Keyboards are cheap (read consumable) – I bought four of my favourite, the Dell multimedia for 5 bucks each almost two years ago. I turn it upside down every week or so and knock the crud out, and throw it in the dishwasher every few weeks. It’s been 2 years now and I still have two new ones left. The one fail was cord damage in a careless system move!

  46. TONY128

    I worked in a glue factory. nuff said

  47. bimplebean

    Those are eyebrow hairs. Yes, that’s it, eyebrow hairs. Has to be. I can’t imagine them being anything else. Otherwise I would ROFL, and I don’t mean the acronym. I mean that’s the sound I would make…

  48. cygpep1

    I keep my keyboard like new by covering it with some clear – heavy duty
    plastic (sold as a painters tarp).

  49. Rich

    Shake your keyboard over an open buttered croissant for a tasty treat after the job is done.

  50. Dixie

    Good article. Graphic pictures. Just went out and bought a NEW keyboard!

  51. tinkerjenn

    I’m afraid to pop off my keys… I have a G510!

  52. Tony

    Honestly, just buy a thing of Clorox wipes and start going at the keys. It’ll take you about 5 minutes even if you’re especially particular since those things get basically all the dirt/grime off in a few swipes. I’ve only done it on my Mac keyboard so I can’t say for other kinds that may have more exposed crevices to clean, but as far as surface cleaning goes that’s the quickest and easiest way I can think of.

  53. Peter

    This takes a long time, so unless you’ve got a lot of time to kill, just spend the $20 and get a new keyboard when it looks half as disgusting as the one in the pictures.

  54. Meyanna

    How about cleaning the keyboard of a laptop?

  55. Neighbourhood Nerd

    I second all the other comments – those are some gross keyboards you have there sonny!

    Great article though :) yes, keyboards are generally cheap, but I don’t see why I should shell out 20 dollars for a new one when it’s so easy to clean up the one I have. My keyboard dates back to when Media Keyboards with USB ports were new and hip ;)

  56. Nick

    If it were that keyboard no way would I even bother cleaning it, it’s tainted for sure.. That’s why I say invest in a really nice keyboard if you can afford one, then it’s worth the time to clean it. I have had issues in the past with removing keys, they ended up feeling the same after.

    You should put a warning up for disgusting pictures, I would have rather seen a horse banging a woman then seeing that 3rd to last picture.

  57. Dan J.

    If you use a cheap keyboard, by all means throw the thing away and replace it. But not all of us use cheap keyboards. Some of us also have an affinity for specific models that are no longer made.

  58. Rachel

    Eeeww!!! That’s just gross! I don’t know how anyone could let their keyboard keys turn brown and not like anything about it!! I use this jelly-goo stuff called “Cyber Clean” it’s got an alcohol in it so it kills germs and also gets in between keys. Works really well!!

  59. debsawyer

    That’s just nasty!!!!!

  60. ccorrada

    i would say thanks for sharing but…. eeeeeewwwwwww!!!

  61. kali


    Sorry – this is a query not related to sprucing the key board (which is really great). Could I ask computer related queries via this submission portal? I’m a novice and find that even the “Dummies” series is way too advanced for me. I’m the type that requires a diagram to show how to switch on the computer.

    My query for today is how to key in symbols 11 upwards using Word 2007. There are two sets of symbols ( from 1 – 10 ) but I have more than 10 points to make in my document.

    Grateful thanks.

  62. cjbnc

    I suppose if you use cheap keyboards, then replacement is better than cleaning. For those of us using our 1987 IBM Model M keyboards, cleaning is still easier than trying to replace.

  63. Kaessa

    I’ve always just bought a new keyboard every year or so.. I usually just get a $10-$20 Logitech keyboard at Newegg, and it holds up great for that long. I abuse the hell out of my keyboards, so I’ve never expected them to last much longer.

    My new keyboard that’s coming in the mail on Thursday just cost me a lot more than that. I guess I’d better pay attention and learn to keep it clean from now on.

  64. calvin

    Baby wipes work like a charm for cleaning keys and the external surface.

  65. Ogre

    They’re not that disgusting. Thanks for the tip.

  66. Gabriel

    This article is very timely. Just today, I spilled some grapefruit juice on my keys. Yuck, some are a bit sticky. I’m hesitant to take the keys off, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to replace them so that they would fit properly. I’m just happy they are still working. I have a Dell Inspiron laptop? Has anyone else had experience cleaning keys on this model? Unbelievable the crap that can get on and under the keys. I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to eating over my computer. Alcohol is probably the best cleaner, since it evaporates.

  67. Vinayak

    for people recommending throwing away the keyboard and buying a new one, i would recommend watching

  68. ArtSpeed

    I tend to get the keys of my Apple aluminum keybiards pretty grungy (my office is in a BMW shop…) so to preserve their integrity I simply keep a roll of ClingWrap handy, and every few weeks as I wear through the covering, I rip it off, re-wrap it with new, and voila! haven’t had to do any key-scrubbing for a coupla years now. Cheap, effective, and quick. Even works on my iBook.

    Beats the stuffing out of all this cleaning baloney!

  69. Dave

    As others have mentioned, I’m a big fan of the dishwasher method. I don’t remove the keys. I take the whole keyboard and put it in the top rack with a less detergent than usual and run it with no heat dry.

    Sometimes I then adjust and run it again. Then let it dry for a few days. Has always worked well, though I wait a good long time between doing this. Remember to have a spare keyboard ahead of time. Even using a hair dryer to dry it quicker, you can use that thing for a couple days at least.

  70. Robert in London

    I think, given the price of keyboards, I’d be inclined to throw that one away and buy a nice new clean shiny one.

  71. astral_cyborg

    Wow, I always wanted to learn a few more tricks about keyboard cleaning.

    So far, it was painful for me to clean my keyboard, as I was removing all the keys and throw them in a washbowl with water and some soap and with an old toothbrush, I was cleaning each one of them.

    The hard part was if I accidentaly drop the little plastic things under each key as they are semi-transparent and they cannot be spotted easily on the floor…

    Thanks for the tips.

  72. John

    And to think that I’ve been scraping it off with my fingernails the whole time.

  73. Alan

    If you can live 3 days whitout a keyboard. The best solution it’s disassemble, please remember how you do it and, stick on the dishwasher alone, e let it in the sun for 3 days with the parts loose. I done that with mine form time to time.

  74. Nicola

    well, with my old keyboard (Microsoft Natural or something like that), I’d just unscrew the screws from the back, pop it open, take all the electronic stuff out, and put the keys, and everything else in a bowl with some warm water an soap.

    Then I let it dry thoroughly, reassemble… and voilà – it has that “just out of the box” look :-)


  75. Sandra Pohlman

    I can’t use a black keyboard. White keyboards are getting hard to find. I can see black on cream but white on black is more difficult SO, I need to clean my keyboard or look for one in Staples or other office retailer. My granddaughter has caused a couple nightmares and my cats like 2 visit my desk. Thanks for the tutorial. Taking a picture of the keyboard was very helpful and so was the alcohol description.

  76. samiam03

    By all means attempt to clean a laptop keyboard.
    You’ll be calling tech support in India for a new keyboard
    After 2 hours they’ll tell you NO replacement.

    Next you’ll call a tech – (S)he will charge $75 for a $rd ebay keyboard

  77. lostnsavd

    Barf…barf…gag! Whose keyboard is that? Is that…yours? I actually do know people whose keyboards are close to those that you have shown. Scary! I am Microsoft certified, so another great tip is for those who house calls is to bring some isopropyl alcohol “wipes” with you. You will be glad you did. Oh man, I am going to have nightmares over those pics. I’m going to have these mental pics haunting me. Thanks so much… for the ‘great’ graphic illustration. And I agree with others who posted that you needed to add, “Warning! Viewer Discrection is Advised.” Hahahaha

  78. hashish

    Dude, for keyboards where you can take the keycaps off, the easiest way is denture cleaner.

    Remove the keycaps and soak in denture cleaner.
    Remove electronics from case and put plastic case in the dishwasher.

    Fully restored keyboard.

  79. lisah

    A new standard keyboard costs about 10 euros so I don’t bother doing a deep clean, I just buy a new one once a year. I have a spare one in my bookshelf.

  80. Josh

    I have to say: I’m glad I’m not the “throw-away” type of person. It’s sad that people are willing to spend money buying a new keyboard and contribute to landfills instead of spending an hour or less cleaning what they already have.

    When I buy things, I make sure to buy quality products. Price is a concern of mine, but value is a bigger one. Most of the time, this takes the items I buy out of the “throw away” range. My current keyboard was $100. Not “expensive,” but not cheap either. I like it, so will be disassembling it to clean it. Saving money, not contributing more trash that will sit for decades, and only having to spend an hour of my time…

    The picture with the keys off is disgusting. I’m glad mine isn’t THAT bad ;)

  81. Mike

    Holy cow!! Where’d you find those keyboards? LOL! One word of caution: Be careful vacuuming a keyboard. I was cleaning my laptop and got too close – sucked a key right off the board! I have a cental vac in my home – took me quite a while to find that little key. Use something less potent on yours unless you enjoy digging around in a bag of nasties!!

  82. beergas

    I love the smell of spilled beer in the morning. Smells like warm honey on the keys to lick.

  83. Furryface

    I have a Dell laptop that I accidentally spilled some soup on. I tried removing some of the keys but they have this lever system under the keys that makes it almost impossible to get the keys snapped back on. I ended up having to buy a new keyboard from Dell. Now I eat my soup off to the side of the keyboard and make sure anything liquid is well away. ;-)

    Oh, on the subject of laptops….mine was heating up more and more over time so I checked with the techies at my local computer store and they told me the air vent for the heatsink could be plugged with dust, hair etc. They also said the heat conductive paste used between the CPU and the heatsink could have got dried out and needed cleaned up and replaced. They were right on both counts. I got a copy of the procedure of ripping apart the laptop and cleaned everything up, cleaned and replaced the paste between the CPU and the heatsink and I now have a cool running laptop again!!

  84. RossMcD

    One of my customers has 4 laptops (don’t ask – I haven’t found out why he needs so many) – all are disgusting as I think he uses them instead of plates when he’s eating. They’re covered in tea, coffee, crumbs, pepper, … I usually help him using remote access, but if I have to deal with them at the workshop I put on latex gloves or plug in a nice clean USB keyboard. Lovely. :-)

  85. Penguin

    The pictures look so disgusting…

  86. wilpher

    This website is use full for computer users … And hope so in future these kinds of websites are being developed by many reputed campaniles

  87. d34thp1ng

    Honestly the dishwasher and or a nice warm/hot shower will almost always do the trick. I have a Fancy G-15 and I have taken it in the shower after a few gaming sessions where drinks get spilled on it(Bawls is the worst and hardest to clean). Give it 2-3 days and good as new.

  88. Jeff Brown

    Sandra Pohlman

    Get a light up keyboard around 70.00 but way cool

  89. PunkgirlCandy

    just about managed to keep my breakfast down …. I can cope with anything but other people’s hair but really good article.

  90. PowerRabbit

    Those are some dirty keyboards, mine looks like gold, and I like to pick my nose too :) J/K or am I :)

  91. cactusdr

    Only wish they’d have shown what the monitor looked like that went with that keyboard. Can you say “Shark” steam cleaner?

  92. Chris

    Everyone has there own method and they are happy to do it, mine is as follows:
    Method 1. If you live in the warmer climes and have a swimming pool just dangle your keyboard in it for a couple of mins and hey presto it’s clean, good o’l chlorine will clean it every time then hang up to dry, or use a hair dryer.
    Method 2. in the sink with washing up liquid, warm water and a sponge and hey presto clean, hang up to dry or use a hair dryer.
    Cost : very little, Time : very little. Result no broken keyboard
    This will work with both desktop and laptop Keyboards, Word of warning tho. Please disconnect both from computers, I presume we all know this. Chris

  93. Trudy

    I put my keyboard in dishwasher- by itself with keys down on top shelf. Make sure cord is secured so it doesn’t dangle. no soap- turn off heat drying cycle. Let dry thoroughly. always keep at least one spare keyboard- cheap is good- to use while other drying.

  94. GKI

    New keyboards with deep keys are becoming few and far between. Virtually all OEM keyboard w/towers are becoming like chiclets. For us older folks used to a good keyboard, maintenance is the only way to preserve a good keyboard.
    And a pox to those manufacturers (HP & Dell) that have used keyboards that have easily worn letters. I can’t believe how they can get away with such lousy inking of the letters on their keys, such that my Sister, a CPA wore her Dell OEM board out with many missing letters: I replaced it with an older Dell board that is a good typer, and keeps it’s letters!


    GKI is right! It’s beyond belief that some manufacturer use OEM boards where the letters wear off……

    Hmmm that would be a good blog topic :)

  96. XSportSeeker

    How do make a mess on your keyboard – spend too long a time looking at those pics. OMG!

  97. simon

    i’m putting mine in the dishwasher (WITHOUT the drying cycle) :-) and i’m drying it with a compressor,

  98. Name

    If it is a hobby on your free time – ok. But if it is time spent when you should do business it is extremely expensive to clean your keyboard instead of buying yourself a new.

  99. Wayne Riker

    I’ve rescued several remotes and a cell phone that were dropped into liquid (3 year old and a toilet – not mine) and two keyboards, one drenched in soda and the other with coffee. For each the unit was unplugged and batteries removed immediately. Then they were soaked, immersed and rinsed thoroughly in distilled water. Finally left to dry in a controlled, 130 degree farenheit, environment (food dryer or oven-careful!) for 2 days. Best advice: never have beverages above the keyboard and keep the kiddies away. :)

  100. Findecanor

    Here are my tips:
    First, get a proper key puller. It would save a whole lot of time and is easier on your keys and your fingers than a knife.

    If you unscrew the keyboard to remove the top, you will gain better access to the stabilizer bars.

    Throw the keys into a bowl together with four-five denture cleaning tablets, cover them with hot water and let soak — this will save a whole lot of manual work. The dirt should come right off. There is often no need to brush them, unless they have got pen/pencil marks on them. Rinse in a sieve and let dry for a few days.

    Most of the work is done by the vacuum cleaner, though.

    I would advice against rinsing or washing, especially in the dishwasher. Some keyboards may be sealed enough, but some may have gaps in them where water can leak into the more sensitive components.
    There are salts in machine dishwashing fluid. Saltwater = electrolyte. Electrolyte conducts current. Any left on the circuit board inside the keyboard when you *connect* it and it may fry. (the ports are powered even when the computer is “switched off”) The circuits on a plastic membrane are often quite brittle.

    For laptop keyboards: use Cyber Clean. It is a gelatinous sticky blob that captures dirt.

  101. Rick S

    Hey ! Where did you get my keyboard ? lol.
    Mine is going in the bath tub then getting a nice shower.
    It can dry for a couple of weeks and if it works fine, and if it don’t then out it goes.

    Done it lots of times but one time I did wreck the keyboard.
    Maybe it wasn’t dry who knows.

    Now that was a real life article with the proper way of doing things.
    Real life dirt too. You owe me breakfast. lol.

  102. Mike

    @Andrei: To clean the inside of your tower. Fire hose…

  103. Joshua Sweeney

    Wow! The mess under my keyboard almost made me throw up! Thanks for the tutorial!

  104. Bushman

    I’m a telephone engineer and clean a lot of desktop handsets and keyboards with an aerosol can of foam whiteboard cleaner and a clean 2″ paint brush. Then dry down with soft cotton cloth or good quality kitchen roll. Saves a lot of time disassembling things and they look like new when done. The foam cleaner is electrically inert so will not do any damage once dried. And it’s cheap!

  105. Bill M.

    I’ve found that, short of using my Leatherman’s plier tool to pull off desktop keyboard keys to get the really disgusting bits as shown in image “Food Particles and Grime”, using a simple Post-It/sticky note works great to pull up hair, small particles, paper bits. Here’s the trick: take the sticky side of the Post-It and place it in the bottom of the keyboard and drag along, left-to-right. Repeat for each row. Then take another and go up and down between keys. If you’re lucky, or can have work by a decent sized portable, electric air compressor, then blow out between each row, left-right and up-down.
    Tell your co-workers to not eat their chips and sandwiches OVER their keyboards and to wash their hands when they are done eating greasy and/or sticky foods. This is from many years of experience working as a computer tech at a high school – I’ve seen some disgusting stuff come off keyboards and mice.

  106. K Smith

    I quit taking all keys off and washing them and cleaning the keyboard bases for current employees. If they want to be a slob, live with it. I have learned they don’t change their behavior and they are filthy again within a few weeks. Some times I will wipe the keyboard surfaces with rubbing alcohol and cloth or use a toothbrush dipped in alcohol over the top and then wipe with paper towel. I do have to take apart the filthy ones when these employees leave to prepare for the new employee.

  107. Rob

    Great article, I just ripped apart my DELL keyboard, and it is a lot quieter.

  108. Elle

    I have an X6 because I’m not cheap and actually care about the way my desk looks.
    This thing is a bit of a bitch to clean but it’s easier than cleaning a laptop.
    If anyone is actually considering cleaning a laptop’s keyboard then you probably want to go on eBay, look for the appropriate keyboard replacement and then jump over to google and look for a tutorial on replacing it.
    You’ll be doing it anyway because those bloody plastic things are the most frustrating and fragile pieces of shit you’ll ever come across.

    As for the pictures.. They weren’t that bad. I’m a girl so you lot need to harden up.

  109. AD

    That keyboard is nasty.

    Just toss it and start over.

  110. computerlady

    I’m tech support for a school. Once a teacher dropped chocolate milk into her laptop keyboard (student startled her!). Laid a bunch of paper towels on the board to soak up the excess, and then removed the keyboard. Ran the keyboard under running water for several minutes to flush out the milk and dried it under a desk fan for 2 days. Reinstalled it and it was as good as new!

  111. walter

    For those wanting to clean a laptop keyboard – by far the easiest is to remove the keyboard (each model is different – google to find instructions for yours) then run lots of warm water over it, use an old toothbrush or other brush for gentle scrubbing, shake it off, gently towel dry, then let it air dry for a day – you can hasten the drying with gentle use of a blow dryer on low, and/or hang it up somehow (with a bungee cord by a door knob for example) in front of a fan for 3-4 hours. Best to err on the too much drying time side than not enough.

    I did this with my old Inspiron 5150 keyboard – I thought I was going to have to replace the keyboard so i thought what the heck, if I ruin it, I’ll just replace it. I found instruction on the internet, tried it, and it works great.

  112. Lorena

    <> And what´s worse than spilling your soda and getting real sticky keys? Spilling a glass of water and trying to dry your laptop´s keyboard with a hair dryer…The final outcome can be catastrophic:

    Needless to say, I had to order a replacement :-)

  113. Rick S

    Well so much for my keyboard. lol.
    Gave it a bath then a shower and let it dry in the sun. Didn’t work this time.
    I liked that keyboard too. Shucks that sucks. lol.
    Win some lose some.

  114. Roberto

    Just a comment.

    BEFORE removal of the keys cap, take a photo of the keyboard, so you know were all this stuff belong!

  115. MrMagoo10990

    I didn’t see anything on cockroaches? And other wildlife.

  116. ultraghostrider

    Nice post I deal with this everyday as help desk support. Just disgusting I must wash my hands a dozen times a day at work. AND WINTER every opt. One user I went desk and I swear critters where in there.

  117. Chris

    i used this site to disassemble my Microsoft Natural Ergo Keyboard 4000 after I’d spilled my coffee all over it. I then put all the plastic/rubber bits without any electrical components attached in the sink and gave them a good wash. this keyboard does a pretty good job of protecting the board from dirt/liquids. put it all back together and it’s beautiful again. like new.

  118. don

    1. Unplug keyboard.
    2. Throw keyboard in the bin.
    3. Buy new 10 bucks keyboard.

  119. don

    I forgot :

    4. Plug in brand new, clean, keyboard.

  120. Surviving Five

    Wow I thought the pictures were disgusting until I popped off a few of my keys. SO GROSS!! Thanks for inspiring me to actually clean it!

  121. Ms.bfv

    Thanks man that was usefull……

  122. neill

    You guys all have way too much time on your hands: just put the keyboard in the top shelf of the dishwasher, and wash it using regular dishwasher soap. Then take it out and dry it thoroughly on the baseboard heater.
    Been doing it this way for years.
    Don’t do this with your laptop keyboard though…..unless you first separate it from the laptop.

  123. Ombongi Moraa Faith

    Like Kobby says, All this work oh men! But seriously, user Kobby, are you sure you put it into the DISHWASHER!!!

    thanks HOW-T-GEEK, Cleaning my keyboard should be like cooking, and I should give it my all!

  124. DangerDanTheComputerMan

    I fapped.

  125. Nat

    Loved this line: “What’s worse than accidentally turning on Sticky Keys? Spilling your soda and getting real sticky keys”

  126. Carla

    I can appreciate that its much easier to buy a replacement. However, I am not lazy and I’m not a slob. I was downsized 3 years ago no job to be found, so $25 or more is a really big deal to me (unemployment used up). I had to use the onscreen keyboard for awhile.
    Finally got a new Logitech Wireless which worked wonderfully.
    Unfortunately, as things may go, my glass of chocolate milk got knocked right over on the keboard. The only keys sticking are the number keypad and surrounding keys. I tried taking a key off another keyboard once and could never get it back on so am afraid to try it again. Also would go slightly nuts without keyboard long enough for it to dry. Computers/Internet are my social/learning/tracking world. Not sure what I’ll try but am going to work on it. Perhaps advocates of disposability have disposable income. Good luck and happy keyboarding to all !

  127. vijay


  128. Ahmad

    Why didn’t you put a picture of the finished and clean keyboard? :)

  129. e1sunz

    agreed with the comment above me it would motivate us cleaning it more

  130. Erez

    With this kind of keyboard it’s worth already to buy a new one :P

  131. Mark2280


  132. Frodoshopped

    For those of us who invest in GOOD peripherals, or have keyboards that are ancient and you can’t get (the IBM M-Series!) you’ll want to maintain them. Stop living in a throwaway society, and try to be a little green about your life.

  133. Joseph

    emkay has the best answer; believe me.

  134. bsj

    Just popped the space bar off my keyboard and it looks worst under there than the one in the photo.

  135. bsj


  136. Telsie

    Thanks fag you made me break like 5 keys on my new laptop.

  137. Telsie

    nevermind i fixed it. lol

More Articles You Might Like

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!