How to Repair a Laptop Keyboard

By Lauren Vork

Unlike a desktop keyboard, the one in a laptop is located directly above the computer itself and all the sensitive hardware therein. While there's a lot that can go wrong with a laptop keyboard, the most common problems are relatively easy to fix. Here's how to repair your keyboard when it fails to work due to spilled water, particles of debris or broken keys.

Problem: Water Spilled in Keyboard

Step 1

If the spilling of water on your keyboard didn't cause your keyboard to shut off, shut it off now. The water that is in your keyboard could still come in contact with electronic areas and short the computer. Saving your programs and shutting down will prevent any possible damage to electronics or the loss of any data through a sudden shutdown.

Step 2

Carefully drain the keyboard of any sloshing water by tipping it upside-down over a towel (using a towel to collect the water will reduce your risk of dropping your laptop on a hard surface). Do not shake the computer, but shift it gently to move the water out through the cracks between the keys.

Step 3

Dry the remaining water in the computer using a hair dryer with a "cool" setting (do not use a hot dryer so as to avoid melting damage to any plastic parts).

Step 4

Wait a day or two before turning the laptop on to make sure it is completely dry. Water spilled on a laptop keyboard will not do any permanent damage and the computer will most likely be fine once the water is dry. However, bear in mind that this is not the case if you should spill something like pop or soup on your laptop - in these cases, your hard drive will be fine, but other parts of the computer may be permanently damaged (like the cards or the motherboard).

Problem: Debris Under The Keyboard

Step 1

Give your keyboard a few gentle shakes. A small amount of debris isn't a problem unless it's actually interfering with the operation of a key. Shaking can dislodge small articles into parts of the keyboard where they won't cause a problem.

Step 2

Rid your keyboard of debris particles using a specially made keyboard vacuum. You can even get one that's portable and powered by a USB plug (see link below). These machines are specially made to clean the crevices between keys. You may find that you need to remove some keys in order to get access to the places that most need cleaning. See Section 3 for information about removing and re-attaching keys.

Step 3

Purchase a can of compressed air and use it to dislodge particles. These, too, are specially sold for cleaning dust and debris from electronics and will be fitted with a fine spraying attachment in order to fit into tight spaces. You can find them at hardware stores and electronics sellers.

Problem: A Key Has Come Off

Step 1

Carefully remove another key by prying it off gently with a small flathead screwdriver.

Step 2

Examine the configuration of the key you've just removed. If a key has come off your keyboard, you may have difficulty figuring out how to put it back on because the configuration of the key retainer is a bit complicated and will be somewhat unique to your machine. The key retainer is the white plastic piece that goes between the key itself and the hardware that the key engages.

Step 3

Place the key retainer from the first broken key back in place according to how the retainer for the key you've just removed is situated.