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How to clean a computer keyboard properly

Cleaning your computer keyboard

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A computer keyboard full of crumbs, dust and greasy keys is not only unsightly but also unhygienic. Here are some tips that will make cleaning your keyboard quick and easy.

Why should I clean my keyboard?

Your PC or laptop keyboard is exposed to all kinds of substances. Dust, sweat, skin residue and bits of food often accumulate between the keys over time. This creates an unhygienic breeding ground for germs, viruses and bacteria. The fact that you’re constantly touching your keyboard should be reason enough to include it in your regular cleaning routine. You can also help extend the life of your keyboard if you clean it regularly. It’s good for your wallet and the environment. Here are a few helpful tips on cleaning your keyboard.

Removing crumbs from the keyboard

Before you start cleaning your keyboard, you should switch off your PC or laptop and disconnect it from the outlet. If it’s a laptop, it is recommended that you remove the battery if possible. 

The first step is to turn your keyboard or laptop upside down. Shake and tap it gently so as much dirt and debris falls out. The second step is a precision task and there are different ways to do this:

  1. The small brushes you use to clean in between your teeth can also be used to clean your keyboard. Cotton swabs work well to clean the spaces between the keys, but they won't reach under the keys.
  2. Cleaning clay is similar to playdough and can get into the tiniest nooks and crannies in your keyboard. You can purchase this in specialist shops.
  3. For a quick keyboard clean, one simple hack is to use Post-its! The classic sticky note pad can be found on almost every desk. Their adhesive surface is a handy way to keep the gaps between your keyboard free of dust. To do this, stick a Post-it with the adhesive side facing down at the left end of a row of keys and slowly pull it through to the right. Any fine dirt will stick to it. 
  4. If the manual work is too much, you can also use a vacuum cleaner to clean the keyboard. Set it to the lowest setting so you don’t accidentally suck up any keys, and be sure to use a small brush attachment.


Cleaning the keyboard with a damp cloth

If your keyboard is also greasy and stained, a wet clean is required. This also applies if your keyboard has become yellowed. A soft microfiber cloth is best but you can also use any other lint-free household cloth. In addition to lukewarm water, it’s best to use glass cleaner or a mild all-purpose cleaner. Spray the product into the cloth and never directly onto the keys, as moisture may penetrate into the keyboard and cause damage. A slightly moistened cotton swab can be used for the spaces between the keys. After wet cleaning your keyboard, you should dry it carefully with a cloth.

Cleaning the keyboard properly and thoroughly

For a desktop PC, it makes sense to clean the keyboard thoroughly every now and then. To clean all parts of the keyboard, you have to first remove all the keys. Before you start, take a picture of the keyboard as this will make it much easier to reassemble later! With the help of a small screwdriver and a little pressure, the keys can usually be removed relatively easily. Cleaning your keyboard this way requires you to be really careful, but you’re rewarded with a sparkling keyboard at the end. This method is not suitable for notebooks because the keyboards are usually much more delicate than external PC keyboards.

If the condition of your keyboard is dire, there is another option that might surprise you – you can clean your PC keyboard in the dishwasher! But be aware there is no guarantee your keyboard will survive this special treatment. This option is best left as a last resort. The keys can usually withstand a wash cycle at about 40 degrees, but it is possible that the lettering may come off. It is important that you leave the keyboard to dry well afterwards - preferably near a radiator. It can take up to three days before the keyboard is ready for use again.