How To: Clean your PC or Laptop keyboard

When is the last time you actually looked down at your computer's keyboard? Now, I'm not talking about looking for a particular key, but actually looking at your keys. The answer for most people is that they don't pay much attention to their keyboard unless it has stopped working. As a guy that works on other people's PCs for a living, the typical keyboard I come in contact with ranges from slightly used in appearance to down right disgusting!

It's widely known the people love to eat while using their computers. From co-workers that work through lunch, eating at their desks to late night gaming sessions featuring pizza, eating at the computer is just something people do these days. The keyboards definitely show it. Have you ever noticed, thanks to Social Media, how people love to tell us that they are sick? Coughing and sneezing into their hands and onto their keyboards, while at home with the flu...if you share your keyboard with other people, stop to think about that one for a moment.

The truth is that a dirty keyboard can make you sick. Literally and figuratively.

I've had customers tell me they didn't know they could clean their keyboards. Take it from me, you can...and should. Here's how to do it:

  1. Turn the PC off. Really. I've had customers accidentally change a password while cleaning a keyboard.
  2. Hold the keyboard upside down and gently shake it. If you have a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment,  you can use that on the keyboard while you've got it upside down. Simply move the brush attachment across the keys.
  3. Next, hold the keyboard on it's side and use a can of compressed air to spray even more junk free. For extra dirty keyboards, repeat step 2.
  4. Do you have built-up crud between your keys? You can use a small flat tip screwdriver, toothpick, or thumbtack to scrape the heavy crud away. Next take a plate and spray the cleaner of your choice on it. Fantastik, 409, Windex, or my personal favorite, Krud Kutter, all work fine. Take a Q-tip, dip it in the cleaner and run it between the keys. DO NOT spray it directly on the keyboard. Take a dry Q-tip and run it between the same keys to soak up any stray liquid.
  5. When you are done with that, take a disinfectant wipe and wipe the tops of the keys and the surrounding surface. Keyboards are generally sturdy, so you can normally wipe as hard as you need to.
  6. If you've gone this far, give your mouse some attention too. Wipe it down with a disinfectant wipe as well.

Cleaning a Laptop keyboard is quite similar:

  1. Turn off the Laptop.
  2. Laptop keys are prone to popping off the keyboard, so use caution here. Starting with the Laptop on it's side (see the image below), use a can of compressed air to blow the dirt out of the keyboard. The flip the Laptop so that the side that was on top is now on the bottom. Repeat with the can of compressed air. I'd recommend staying away from using a vacuum cleaner as that can cause the keys to come loose and / or fall off.
  3. Due to the fact that Laptop keyboards vary wildly by manufacturer and even by model,      only you can decide if it's worth it or even possible to clean between the keys. If you decide to clean between the keys, use caution and take your time.
  4. When you are done with that, take a disinfectant wipe and wipe the tops of the keys and the surrounding plastic. Again, Laptop keyboards can be fragile, so use care while wiping the keyboard.

That's all there is to it - you've now got a clean keyboard. Any questions? Let me know in the comments below.         

                                                                   Put the Laptop on it's side for easier cleaning.

                                                                  Put the Laptop on it's side for easier cleaning.