How to Properly Clean Your Keyboard, Because It’s Definitely Full of Grot

How to Properly Clean Your Keyboard, Because It’s Definitely Full of Grot
Image: iStock

Your keyboard is a bit of a dust, crumb and junk trap – be it a laptop keyboard or an external PC keyboard.

With so many little spots for dust to gather and stick around, it might be time to give your keyboard a deep clean.

We’re here to help with that. Here’s how you can quickly, effectively and safely clean your keyboard. If you want to tidy up your working from home setup while you’re at it, take a gander over here.

How to clean a keyboard

Laptops are a bit easier to clean, considering the depth of the keys isn’t as great, the keyboard is smaller and the keys are lighter. Conversely, PC keyboards are typically heavier, with more space for dust to get in and gather.

What you’ll need to do is simple in theory, but annoying if you forget the first step.

  • Take a picture of the keyboard: If you forget where all the keys go, you’ll likely be in for an annoying jigsaw puzzle once all the cleaning is done. Take a well-lit photo that shows where all the keys are. You’ll want to turn the device off as you go on (unplug the keyboard if cleaning an external device).
  • Remove the keys: On a laptop keyboard, this can be done quite effortlessly. Simply use the undersides of your fingernails, a thin nonabrasive piece of plastic or a dedicated laptop key remover. You’ll want to be careful not to do any damage in this step, so take it slow and make sure none of the plastic snaps. On a PC keyboard, you’ll likely need to use a keyboard prying tool to get the keys out quickly without hurting yourself. You can pick these up quite cheaply on Amazon.
  • Scrubbing the keyboard: Using a clean toothbrush, a gentle brush or an air canister, remove the dust, crumbs and junk without being too rough on the keyboard. If there’s a particularly grimy bit on a hard service, give it a tiny bit of energy to scrub it off, but not enough to break the material. Try to avoid scrubbing inside the key slots unless you’re removing noticeably big bits of dust and don’t spray air directly into the machine.
  • Cleaning the keys: If you wanna stick to a basic clean, you can use a brush to dust off each individual key. You can also use a cotton bud.
  • (Hack) Cleaning goo: If you’re after an efficient and cheeky way to clean your keyboard, pick up some cleaning goo. It’s not a faultless hack, but it definitely gets rid of some of the dust without much effort. It’s a neat trick, but try to avoid getting goo stuck anywhere.
  • Deep clean: If your keys or keyless keyboard need a bit more of a clean, use a little bit of isopropyl alcohol, as it won’t damage the internal electronics. Damp a thin cloth in isopropyl alcohol and go over the keys and keyboard while the machine is turned off.
  • Insert the keys: With the keys and the keyboard cleaned, you can begin reinserting the keys, going off the photo you took at the start as a reference. If you used isopropyl alcohol, it might be worth waiting a little while, just to play it safe.

And there you have it, a good-as-new laptop clean. It’s hygienic and a good practice to stick to if you’re using the keyboard a lot.