How to Clean a Sticky Keyboard

By Sandra Ketcham

If you have ever spilled a drink or dropped wet food on a keyboard, you understand the panic and frustration that results. Even if no actual damage occurs, spilling drinks or food on your keyboard can cause the keys to stick or stop working. Luckily, it is almost always possible to clean a sticky keyboard and get it working again.

Things You'll Need

  • Dull knife
  • Dish detergent
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Cotton swabs

Step 1

Soak up spills immediately after they occur. This not only reduces the risk of damage, it prevents much of the fluid from spreading beneath the keys. Use a towel, cloth or anything else you have handy at the moment.

Step 2

Unplug the keyboard from the computer or disconnect the power supply if you are using a laptop keyboard. Make certain nothing else is connected to the keyboard and unplug any USB devices.

Step 3

Pop the keys off your keyboard using a dull knife or flathead screwdriver. Do this slowly and carefully to avoid damaging the keys or the keyboard.

Step 4

Place the keys in a bowl full of warm soapy water, and let them soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Dish detergent is effective at removing dirt, oil and stickiness.

Step 5

Use a damp, lint-free cloth to wipe the large areas of the keyboard. A cotton swab can be used in smaller spaces and around the edge of the keyboard.

Step 6

Set the keyboard aside, upside down, on a towel and leave it to dry for several hours. This will also allow any trapped fluid inside the keyboard to drain out.

Step 7

Wash off any remaining dirt, oil or debris from the keys. Use a cotton swab to clean inside of each key, if necessary. Rinse the keys very well with warm water and set them on a towel to dry.

Step 8

Replace the keys once the keyboard and keys are fully dry. If your keyboard is still sticky, fluid likely leaked deep inside the keyboard. You can attempt to clean the internal part of the keyboard by yourself, but this will void the warranty and risk further damage. Either purchase a new keyboard or send yours to the manufacturer for repair.

Tips & Warnings

  • Using a can of pressurized air to clean your keyboard will remove any loose dirt and debris but will not get rid of stickiness or oil residue.Take a photo of your keyboard before removing the keys to make replacement easier.