how to clean your sticky keyboard

Have you ever spilled your favorite drink on your keyboard? I have! The worst thing about it was that I spilled good old classic coca-cola, the stickiest drink in the world.

I tried everything I could to restore my old friend to his glory days, but sadly I wasn’t able to bring him back.

I compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you keep your keyboard nice and clean. As well as a full step by step guide on how to fix your keyboard in case of an accident like mine.

Why should you keep your keyboard clean ?

Did you know that most people never clean their keyboard ever? The same study showed that you can find bacteria that can cause you more harm than what you‘d find on a toilet bowl, just living in your keyboard. [1]

Those bacteria could make you sick and even worse make your friends and family ill.

Cleaning your keyboard once every week should be part of your routine. Most of us do it for the entire house, and we spend hours touching our computers every day, why not take a few more minutes to make sure our computer gear is clean?

Here is a list of items you could use to accelerate your cleaning :

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the 2020-09-24 at 05:18 and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

How should i clean each week ?

If you have a regular cleaning routine, it should not take you much time to clean your entire desk, including your mouse and your monitor

The easiest way to clean is with Compressed Air and Antibacterial wipes but you can also use any household name cleaning product.

We recommend you use the Compressed air first, to blow any dust, animal hair or lunch remains off the keyboard.

Then take an Antibacterial wipe and clean your keyboard completely with it. Don’t forget to clean under the keyboard !

Once you’re done you can always take your fingers or a cotton swab, wrap it in the previously used antibacterial wipes and clean between the key caps.

 

What happens if i don’t clean it ?

Not cleaning your keyboard won’t necessarily make it less durable, but in case of an accident it might complicate your life a lot ! You already have to get out all the liquid, imagine mixing that with crumbs, hair and dust… sounds lovely!

With time and the build-up of rubbish underneath your keys they can also become unresponsive or harder to push in, this applies to both a mechanical keyboard and a regular one.

Oh No ! I just Spilled a Drink on my keyboard !

sticky keyboard

The first step is to unplug the keyboard as soon as possible from the computer. Then use paper towels to absorb as much of the liquid as possible.

Do not be shy about shaking and flipping the keyboard in every way possible. Really try to get most of the liquid out of it !

Remove the Keycaps

The next step before you take out your keycaps would be to whip out your cellphone or digital camera to take a picture of the keyboard layout, (DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!) trust me this will save you an enormous headache when you start trying to put it back together again.

There are many ways to remove the keycaps, when I didn’t have a Keycap Puller I would use the corner of one of my credit cards, but many other users reported using a flat head screwdriver or a strong paperclip, it all depends on what you can get you hand on quickly.

Wash The Key caps

clean keyboard keycaps

Wash the Keycaps [3]

Once you’ve removed all the key caps, you can head to the kitchen, grab a colander or a bowl and wash them with warm water.

If you spilled the drink a few hours ago a bit of dish soap won’t hurt. Lay a paper towel on your kitchen counter and let them dry completely even if it takes a few hours.

Clean The Base Plate

Bring some extra Paper Towels or Coffee Filters from the kitchen back over to your computer.

Why Coffee Filters you might ask ? They tend to have less fibers than paper towels or paper tissues.

Use warm water on your paper towel with a bit a dish soap to clean the base plate, do not apply water on the base plate directly, it could get inside and drip on the internal components potentially taking the keyboard even longer to dry.

clean in between with a qtips swab

Clean the base plate [3]

You can always use a Q-Tips Swab to clean in any harder to reach areas.

Clean the Switches

This is the hardest part.

For Regular Keyboards you should definitively use Q-Tips. For Mechanical Keyboard start with Q-Tips and upgrade to a straw if you don’t get the results you want.

There are 2 liquids you can use, depending on how bad the spill was. The first would be to use warm water, if that doesn’t work you can use 91% alcohol.

You have to drop the water or alcohol inside the switch in order to make sure that no sticky liquid will dry inside of it (This is really important). If it does, it will be REALLY hard to fix.

Dry Time

let you keyboard and keycaps dry

Let it dry [3]

This step is very important, you should let it dry at least 24 to 48 hours. Some people leave it in the sun but we don’t recommend it, if exposed too long it might de-color the keycaps.

Once everything is dry you can always use a keyboard lubricant to increase your change of success.

Re-assemble

You are now almost done, use the previously taken photo of your keyboard to re-assemble it the way it was (you did remember to take the photo didn’t you?).

Once you have all the pieces together press every button multiple times to verify if they stick. If they don’t repeat the Clean the Switches step or verify if there is no residue underneath the border of the key cap.

The next step is to plug in your keyboard to test for responsiveness, you also need to make sure all your keycaps are in the right place.

There are other ways to fix your keyboard

WARNING: Some of the following steps are your last resort, if you tried everything above and it’s still not working properly. They can damage your keyboard if not performed correctly.

The Dishwasher

Using the dishwasher is one of your options, do NOT use heated dry or detergent. It shouldn’t matter whether you use the top or bottom rack.

This is NOT recommended for wireless keyboards, keyboards with a digital display or any keyboards with exposed electronic components

Lay it on a towel and let it dry, there is no exact time you should leave it to dry for because it all depends on the humidity and temperature in your region, between 4 days and 2 weeks are recommended.

The Underwater Plunge

If you have a plastic storage container laying around you can fill it with about 5-8 centimeters of warm water.

Then plunge your keyboard in it for 15 to 20 seconds, no need to go overkill.

Lay on a towel and let it dry for between 4 days and 2 weeks.

The Oven

Yes you read right, you can put your keyboard in the oven to dry it faster.

80°C for about 4-5 hours should be enough to make it dry.

The Rice

Even if there is no risk, we had to list it as a alternative, rice is known to absorb humidity and liquid very well. Basmati Rice and Flaked rice were the big winners in the category absorbing over 25% more moisture than brown rice. [2]

Recommended Waterproof Keyboards

If you are like me and you prefer simplicity you can always purchase a waterproof keyboard, I listed a few here worth taking a look :

Logitech K310

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the 2020-09-24 at 06:08 and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Keyboard Layout : Full-size with Number Pad
Typing Experience : Low-profile keys
Programmable Keys : No but shortcuts available (12)
Connectivity : Wire USB

Launched in 2012, the K310 is the first washable keyboard by the renowned manufacturer Logitech. Built to be hand washed, this keyboard has all the specifications you need for a durable commercial or home use including UV coated keys, scratch-resistant surface and drainage holes for quick drying.

Here are the recommended washing instructions :
Hand wash only: No dishwasher
Do not submerge in water more than 30cm (11 inches) deep or more than 50°C (120°F)
Use mild soap and soft cloth: Do not use abrasives, alcohol, solvents or harsh detergents
Do not submerge USB cable
Dry at room temperature: Air dry overnight (8 hours), do not use a hot-air drier.

You might like the K310 if:

  • You have kids using the computer
  • You are in a commercial environment where there is multiple users
  • You are someone that eats in front of the computer

 

Kensington K64407US

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the 2020-09-24 at 06:28 and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Keyboard Layout : Full-size with Number Pad
Typing Experience : Regular keys
Programmable Keys : None
Connectivity : Wire USB

Available in Black and White the Kensington K64407US is a washable keyboard that was first targeted for medical offices, hospitals and schools but it can also be used at home !

The only complaint we have about the keyboard is the right shift key is smaller than the usual keyboards, so it might take you a bit of time to adjust.

It is recommended you hand wash the keyboard, it can be immersed under water (not the USB cable) and can also stand up frequent use of spray cleaners.

Do you have any tips that we did not include in this article ? Let us know in the comment section !

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