Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources

Does Your Keyboard Need a Deep Clean? Here’s How To Do It!

Adriana Aziz
October 23, 2022
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how to deep clean keyboard custom graphic

Whatever keyboard you have, be it a laptop or an external computer keyboard, after extensive use, it can get dirty - VERY dirty! The buildup of dust, debris, and grime becomes fairly evident after a while, leaving you with a high unsanitary keyboard to work on. Furthermore, if given enough time, the buildup can start to affect the electronic’s performance. 

On that note, learning how to clean your keyboard, and doing so on a regular basis, is imperative to keep it in good condition. While the process for a thorough cleaning isn't exactly daunting, it is not as simple as merely dusting the keyboard either. Today, MaidForYou is sharing six simple steps to deep clean and sanitise your keyboard. Read on!

What You’ll Need

close up of cleaning utensils on a macbook keyboard

Before we begin with the process, you'll need the following tools and materials to get the job done well:

  • Can of Compressed Air
  • Vacuum Cleaner/Dust Vacuum
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Wiping Cloths

Step-by-Step Guide to Clean a Keyboard

woman using bottle of cleaning solution and lint free cloth to clean keyboard

Being an electronic device, keyboards must be cleaned carefully to avoid accidental damage. With the extensive information shared in this guide, we are certain that you will have no problems following the steps below to clean your keyboard.

Step One: Disconnect Power Supply

Firstly, and most importantly, cut off the power from the keyboard before attempting to clean it. You want to ensure that your keyboard or anything else doesn't suffer any damage in case of a mishap. Shut down or power-off the computer, and unplug it's power source.

If your keyboard is a wired set that is connected to the computer, you should unplug it. If you are dealing with a wireless keyboard, remove the batteries (if removable) and you should be good to go. Finally, if you're working with a laptop keyboard, ensure that your laptop is switched off, and the power cable is unplugged.

Step Two: Shake the Dirt Out

The first thing you need to do is get the loose dirt and debris out. Everything from dust and crumbs, to pet hair even, can be removed by giving the keyboard a good shake. Flip the keyboard upside down, and begin shaking it firmly, but gently (you don't want to damage the keyboard in the process).

If it's a laptop, ensure to hold the screen open while you support the body of the laptop as well. One ought to be a little more careful when doing this with a laptop, especially when working with heavier models.

On a side note, consider investing in a good computer cleaning gel to aid in removing debris from your keyboard. The product could be described as a synthetic slime with a mildly adhesive effect. Similar to a slime toy but with a slightly more malleable consistency, it can grab dust and loose debris fallen between the keys. Laying it across a keyboard and peeling it off can easily get rid of most loose dirt. 

Step Three: Compressed Air

Using compressed air could be considered invaluable for this purpose. It is easily available and can be purchased from most department or electronics stores. To use it, attach the straw nozzle to the can; then tilt the can at a 45 degree angle against the keyboard, and sweep the keyboard with small bursts of air. Keep the nozzle about half and inch above the keyboard at all times for best results. Doing this will force out any more dust and debris caught in the keyboard. Once done, rotate the keyboard, and try again from 1-2 different angles. 

Step Four: Vacuum the Keyboard

If you have a small nozzle dust vacuum or a vacuum cleaner with a brush extension, use it to pull any remaining dirt out of the keys. The high suction power from the vacuum can help lift even the most stubborn particles, so it's worth being thorough with this. 

Run the brush or the nozzle end over the edges of the keys, reaching between them (if possible). This should get under the keys and release any dirt wedged there. Before doing this however, ensure that none of the keys are loose or wobbly as they may get pulled into the vacuum cleaner along with the dirt.

Step Five: Isopropyl Alcohol Scrub

Once vacuumed, take a cotton swab and dampen it with the isopropyl alcohol; pinch the cotton between your fingers to remove excess liquid. Now, very lightly, rub the swab between the keys to wipe away any grime or residual dirt. You'll want to swap out the cotton swabs as you wipe between each key and pick up dirt. 

As much as possible, try to stay away from the tops of the keys as you could take the paint off them by accident. For a laptop, you will need to be more careful since the keys are relatively flat. Additionally, try to keep the alcohol from getting under the keys as you clean them.

Step Six: Isopropyl Alcohol Wipe

Finally, you need to give the keyboard one last wipe down to remove grime from the tops of the keys. A lint-free cloth is highly recommended here as you do not want to risk introducing new debris to the keyboard as you try to clean it. Microfiber cloths like the ones used to wipe eyeglasses or clean LCD screens are perfectly suited for this.

Here you must slightly dampen the cloth with diluted isopropyl alcohol (50:50 ratio). Double-check to make sure that the cloth isn't soaked anywhere and is only mildly damp. Begin wiping the tops of the keys very gently. Remember, you do not want the paint being taken off in the process by applying too much pressure. Try wiping down keys with more traffic a few times to get rid of any leftover grime. Spacebar and Enter key come to mind but if you take a closer look, you might find that most keys have some amount of buildup on them.

TIP: If you are dealing with stubborn grime over certain parts, consider using a toothpick to very gently scrape off or loosen the debris until you can wipe it away with a cloth.

With this, you should have no trouble keeping your keyboard spotless. Remember, regular cleaning means not having to do a thorough job too often. A quick wipe down with diluted isopropyl alcohol, and shaking out debris every now and then, will go a long way in maintaining your keyboard while extending its life at the same time.

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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