How to Clean a Computer Keyboard

Depending on the kind of mess you're dealing with and how thorough you want to be, you can clean your keyboard in several ways. In most cases, cleaning is easy, requiring little more than common household materials like cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol. Thorough cleaning jobs require a little more time and care to prevent damage to your keyboard.

Loose Debris

Vrumbs, dust and other loose particles are some of the easiest keyboard messes to clean. In most cases, all you need to do is turn the keyboard upside down and give it a gentle shaking to remove debris. A quick spray of canned air or dust remover can also dislodge debris. Debris stuck between the keys can be removed with a cotton swab, lint-free cloth, toothbrush or blush brush. A vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment can also remove pesky particles.

Stuck-On Crud and Grime

Stubborn grit and dried on liquids require that you give your keyboard a light scrubbing. Isopropyl rubbing alcohol is indispensable during this process; it breaks down anything stuck to your keyboard and sanitizing the keys.

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Remove any loose debris by shaking out or dusting your keyboard and then wipe down all the keys with a dry lint-free cloth.

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Dip the tip of a cotton swab into the rubbing alcohol and use it to gently scrub the sides of each key.

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Dip the corner of a lint-free cloth into the rubbing alcohol and gently wipe at the surface of each key until it is clean.

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Wait for 15 minutes to an hour for the keyboard to fully dry before using it again.

Sticky Keys

Sticky keys usually result from a liquid spill that dried on the keyboard. When the keys begin to stick, your only recourse is to perform a thorough cleaning, which includes removing the keys to get better access to the keyboard's nooks and crannies.

Step

Draw a diagram of the layout of your keyboard or take a picture with a digital camera or smartphone. Having a visual reference for the keyboard's original layout is helpful when you're reattaching the keys.

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Gently pry up each key using a flat-blade screwdriver or a butter knife. Don't force the keys too hard, they're designed to pop off with minimal effort. If necessary, pry up each corner of the key one at a time.

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Clean each key inside and out using a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol.

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Clean the spaces between each key with a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol. Do not touch the swab on any of the electronics in the keyboard, just on the plastic.

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Let the keyboard and keys dry for 15 minutes to an hour and then reattach them according to your diagram or photo.