Computer keyboards

How to clean a computer keyboard

Tools & Chemicals:

Soft cloth, Computer cleaning fluid, compressed air, pre-treated computer wipes, vacuum and computer vacuum attachments. Before cleaning the keyboard, shut down your computer, and unplug the keyboard.


1. Turn the keyboard upside down and shake so loose dust, dirt, and food crumbs will fall out. Spray between the keys with compressed air or vacuum the keyboard. If you are vacuuming the keyboard, leave it key side up and work in a well lit area. Specialized vacuum attachments are available that slip onto a regular sized vacuum hose which reduces it to a very small opening with a variety of dusting and crevice attachments. This is the most efficient method because the vacuum becomes not only more powerful, but you will actually remove the offending debris as opposed to redistributing it with compressed air.

2. Wipe down the keyboard with a soft cloth dampened with your specialized computer cleaning fluid or plain water. Never spray any kind off chemical directly onto your office equipment, always spray a clean cloth and wipe the hardware. Use a cotton swab to clean between the keys. For hard to remove stains such as ink, use a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol or an alcohol saturated wipe.

3. If you spill cola or coffee in your keyboard the first thing to do stop working. Save your data using the mouse instead of key stroke commands, if possible, and quickly turn the keyboard upside down and unplug it. Allow as much of the fluid as possible to drip from the keyboard, and wipe it down as described above.

4. Although not recommended for the faint of heart, there are more extreme measures you can take to rescue a liquid saturated keyboard. Unplug the keyboard and borrow a co workers for the next couple of days. If the keyboard has an old, or dried spill, you must first saturate the dried liquid. This means submersing it (yes, completely underwater) in a pan of water for a few hours, press any sticky keys to help loosen the dried material. When the dried spill has dissolved into the pan of water, or if the spill is fresh, rinse off the keyboard with distilled water. Use distilled water, as tap water contains minerals that can affect performance even after it is dry. Allow the keyboard to air dry for at least a day or two.

5. Sssssingle sssssticky keysssss can be removed on most keyboards. Just use a small flat head screwdriver to pry the offending key off and after cleaning they snap right back on. Use the corner of a soft cloth or a cotton swab and to clean the key socket as best you can, using a special computer cleaner, rubbing alcohol, or distilled water. If you remove more than one key, remember where it belongs! In fact, it was someone cleaning a typewriter decades ago who wasn’t paying attention, that left us with the jumbled Qwerty mess that we have today.

6. Remember keyboards are inexpensive and plentiful, with each upgraded computer there is usually a lonely unused keyboard sitting in a box in the IT department.

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