How to clean a keyboard and banish sticky keys

June 24, 2020
Hannah M. | Author
How to Clean a Keyboard

It’s never at the top of the to-do list, it’s a chore we all avoid and tell ourselves it’ll be fine for just one more day…But the time has come to face it; face the music and learn how to clean a keyboard.

The unavoidable truth is that your keyboard can typically have 7,500 bacteria per swab. To put that into perspective, the figure for headphones is 2,550 and for the bottom of a handbag, it’s 2,520*. Eek.

Recently, many of us will have welcomed our office keyboards into our homes too, so now couldn’t be a better time to become the best kind of keyboard warrior – the one that tackles the grime and cleans it.

Below, our experts offer tips on the best way to clean your computer or laptop keyboard. Go forth into battle.

Turn off your device

The following steps include some shaking of your keyboard and disinfectant liquids, so it’s best to turn off your devices before starting to clean (particularly important if you’re cleaning a laptop keyboard).

However, if you’re working with a desktop and have the ability to disconnect your keyboard then go ahead and unplug; similarly, if you have a wireless keyboard, just move it away from your computer to a suitable cleaning station (also known as the kitchen, near the sink).

Banish the debris

It’s best to do this bit over a bin or a surface that you can easily wipe.

Turn your keyboard or laptop on an angle where it’s primarily upside down and tap gently on the back of it to loosen any unwanted debris. A cautious shake can help here too.

Warning: this stage can inspire horror as you watch weeks (or even months), of computer snacks fall from the crevices.

Use a can of compressed air to blow out any stubborn crumbs

This step is optional; we know not everyone has a can of compressed air lying around. But it’s an extremely satisfying task, so we’d recommend considering getting a can.

If you’re ready and waiting, take your can and aim towards the keys – you can go slightly underneath them if you feel confident - and let the air blow out any additional crumbs.

Tackling a laptop keyboard can be particularly hard as the keys may not be removable, this is where the compressed air can really help get into places we aren’t able to reach.

How to clean keyboard keys individually

When it comes to your office setup, your keyboard keys get the most action in terms of human contact and germs. So, they deserve some added attention when cleaning time arrives.

You’ll want to have a cup of disinfectant to soak or dip your keys into; soapy water or, if you want to go one step further, a homemade alcohol solution, both work well. Also, if you have any antibacterial spray this can help to target any lurking germs.

Check if your keyboard keys can be taken off separately; a simple Google search including the model of your device should do the trick. Then take each one off by peeling up at the corners with a small instrument, the end of a spoon usually works a treat!

We’d recommend removing and replacing one key at a time, so you don’t forget where each one belongs.

Once you’ve separated your keys, either let them soak in the solution or use a dipped cloth to wipe them one-by-one. Make sure to dry them before returning them to the board.

Another method, which is better suited to laptop keys or ones that can’t be removed, is to dip cotton buds into the solution and carefully tackle it this way. Here, it’s best not to make the cotton bud too wet, tap it a few times of the side of the cup beforehand.

Grab some antibacterial wipes

Now your keyboard is back together, you’ll want to give it an overall surface clean. Using a wipe or taking a cloth and dipping it in the same potion you took to your keys, sweep across your entire keyboard. If you can visibly see any stubborn bits of dirt, give these an extra scrub.

How often should I clean my keyboard in future?

The best way to avoid having to do a deep clean is to keep on top of cleaning your keyboard regularly, giving it a surface wipe every week and looking at the keys once every two weeks is a good idea. Ensure you schedule in a deep clean at least once a month, too.

Hopefully your keyboard is looking shiny and brand new! If you’ve been defeated however, and think the grime has won this battle, then take a look at our collection of keyboards for a worthy replacement.

Recommended cleaning product:

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