A keyboard gets dirty over time anyway. Because even if you don’t use it, it will at least get dust on it. However, when a keyboard collects too much dirt and dust, it will affect the functioning of the keyboard.

In addition, the surface of a keyboard that is used regularly will become quite unsanitary over time. You get a good impression of how unsanitary exactly when you turn a keyboard upside down and tap the bottom of it. Breadcrumbs, skin flakes and other dirt that disappear unseen under the keys during use, will then appear without further ado.

What do you Need to Clean a Keyboard?

Cleaning a keyboard isn’t difficult and shouldn’t even take a lot of time if you use the right tools for the job. The surface of the keys and the housing of the keyboard are quite easy to clean. For example with a damp microfibre cloth.

The advantage of using a microfibre cloth is that the cloth does not have to be very damp to get something clean. That’s nice because keyboards often cannot withstand a lot of moisture and a lot of cleaning agent.

However, a keyboard is certainly not a smooth surface that you can quickly wipe over with a cloth. On the contrary, it is bursting with corners, edges and cracks where all kinds of dirt can get in between.

Some handy tools are therefore not an unnecessary luxury. Things I like to use when cleaning a keyboard are:

  • As mentioned, microfibre cloths.
  • A plant sprayer or empty Glassex bottle with spray head.
  • A can of compressed air.
  • Tapas prickers.
  • An old toothbrush.
  • Toothbrushes.
  • Cotton swabs.
  • Baby wipes.
  • Flat paintbrush.

This is indeed a nice list of items. Exactly what I use depends mainly on how dirty the keyboard is and whether or not the keys are removable.

Cleaning a Keyboard whose keys cannot be Removed

First we pay attention to the most difficult keyboard to clean. The most difficult keyboard to clean is the type of keyboard whose keys are more or less located in the housing of the keyboard. This type of keyboard is most commonly found in laptops. But Logitech’s MX Keys is an example of a keyboard where this is also the case.

The keys of such keyboards can in theory be removed. But there is a good chance that the key and/or the mechanism in the keyboard will be damaged. Therefore, it is better to leave the keys in place while cleaning the keyboard. And only delete a key when a key is malfunctioning.

When cleaning a keyboard without removing the keys from the keyboard, the aforementioned tools come in handy. For best results, clean a keyboard as follows:

Turn off the computer and disconnect the keyboard from the PC. Turn the keyboard upside down and shake and tap it until all the loose dirt is gone from under the keys. Of course, this only works with the separate keyboard of a desktop PC.

Keep turning the keyboard upside down (or turn the laptop upside down completely) and grab the compressed air can and spray under and around the edges of the keys. This will spray the remaining dirt out from under the keys.

Keeping the keyboard on the side and brushing along and under the edges with a flat paint brush also helps to get the dirt away.

An old toothbrush, tooth brushes and a damp cotton swab will especially help when cleaning the sides of the keys.

Once all the hard-to-clean spots are clean, it’s time for the finishing touch. Or cleaning the housing and the top of the keys. Preferably use a damp microfibre cloth. The most important property of a microfibre cloth in this case is that you do not have to rub as hard to clean something.

If you cannot get something clean with a dry microfibre cloth, you can try it with a damp microfibre cloth. Preferably spray the cloth wet with a plant sprayer or an old Glassex bottle filled with water or something similar. Moisture and electronics don’t mix well. That is why you should not make the cloth too wet.

Dirt that cannot be removed with a damp microfibre cloth is best removed with a so-called baby wipe. Most baby wipes are safe to use on plastic surfaces in my experience. For dirt that is in corners you can use so-called wooden tapas sticks. You fold the tip of a baby cloth around it, so that you can press the piece of baby cloth into the smallest corners to clean. Being made of wood, they won’t damage a plastic surface, yet they’re sturdy enough to withstand a vigorous scrubbing when needed.

Wipe and dry the keyboard with a dry microfiber cloth.

Cleaning a keyboard whose keys can be removed

Separate keyboards that belong to desktop computers can also have keys that protrude above the housing, as it were. Such keys are in particular considerably higher than the keys of the keyboard of, for example, a laptop.

With keyboards that have ‘high’ keys, you can usually remove the keys to clean them. For this it is best to use the widest possible flat screwdriver that you can easily maneuver under the keys. When you then hold the key on the other side as upright as possible, you can simply pop the key out of its mounting with the screwdriver.

By the way, don’t forget to take a picture of the keyboard before you remove any keys.

However, the space bar is sometimes difficult to remove. Be careful with it. Because there is also a chance that it will break.

The big advantage of removing the keys from the keyboard is that it makes cleaning under the keys enormously easier. You can also clean the keys yourself more easily.

However, there is always a chance that a key, confirmation, or key mechanism will fail if you are not careful enough with removal. And replacing a broken part of a keyboard is a challenge. Because separate parts for a keyboard are not available.

You are then dependent on the same keyboard for parts.

That more or less means that if something goes wrong with removing the keys from the keyboard, you can go buy a new keyboard.

Cleaning a keyboard is an easy job. But it can easily become quite a time-consuming task if you don’t have the right tools to hand. That makes it advisable to first collect the right stuff before you start cleaning the keyboard.


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