Clean Those Keyboards!

Dirt and grime seem to build up quickly on keyboards. More than once in my career, I have encountered keyboards that were so filthy I dreaded touching them. As the owner and user of a keyboard, it is easy to miss the fact that it is covered in dirt, grease, and even food crumbs. I once read about a study that said that some keyboards are dirtier than a toilet seat. Hopefully, nobody has one of those health hazards sitting on their desks.

Basic Cleaning Tips

While you can’t just put your keyboard in the dishwasher, you can clean it easily. All you need is some 70% Isopropyl rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, a dry cloth, and a toothpick. Use the regular rubbing alcohol available in the pharmacy section of the store. Do not spray or spritz anything on your keyboard, including rubbing alcohol.

If you have a desktop computer, first unplug the keyboard from the computer. Then you can turn the keyboard over and gently tap it against the countertop to get any loose debris to come out. You will want to skip this step on a laptop, as the risk of damaging the screen and other parts is too great.

Now you are ready to clean the keys. Dip your cotton swab into the rubbing alcohol and brush around each key. If you haven’t done this for a while, it might take a few passes before they come clean. Be gentle, and make sure you don’t accidentally scrub the letters off your keys.

Next, take the towel and dip it into the alcohol and use it to brush the tops of the keys and other surfaces. Pay special attention to keys that are used a lot, like the enter and spacebar, as there will be more buildup there. If you have a particularly stubborn spot, you can use the toothpick to scrape it.

The last cleaning step is to use a dry cloth to give your entire keyboard a quick dust and polish.

Once you are finished cleaning, plug it back in if you unplugged it earlier and test it out.

Advanced Tip – Cleaning the Keyboard Trenches

Cleaning the trenches in the keyboard is a challenge because not much fits in the space. You can try to tap the keyboard, which works if you can unplug it, but even then, not everything comes out. Of course, if you have a laptop, then you would not want to even try this method.

There are a couple of things you can do to help clean out those spaces. First, try your vacuum. If you have some brush attachments for the hose on your vacuum, you can use those to try to get in the little spaces between the keys.

Another way to clean the area is with used post-it notes. If you use post-it notes, this is a great way to clean your keyboard before you throw them away. Simply slip the sticky end under the keys and move it around until the glue doesn’t pick up anymore.

Try out some of the methods above. With just a little bit of cleaning, your keyboard will continue to work like new for years to come!

- Michael Martinell, The Broadband Guy