How to Clean Keyboards for Computers?


Updated: 03/11/2023

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Image of a mechanical keyboard sitting on a desk next to a mouse. The keyboard is black with blue keycaps and has a white LED backlight.

You likely spend significant time typing on your keyboard as a computer user. Over time, dust, dirt, and debris can accumulate on the keys, compromising their functionality and harboring harmful bacteria. That’s why cleaning your computer keyboards regularly like a pro is essential. Not only will it improve the performance of your keyboard, but it will also prevent the spread of germs and ensure a more hygienic workspace.

Why is Keyboard Cleaning Necessary?

Keyboard cleaning is necessary for several reasons:

  1. Regular cleaning removes dust, dirt, and debris that can build up between the keys. This buildup can affect the tactile feel of the keys and even cause them to stick or become unresponsive.
  2. Keyboards can harbor bacteria and germs, mainly if used by multiple people or in public spaces. Cleaning your keyboard helps to eliminate these harmful microorganisms and promotes a healthier workspace.
  3. A clean keyboard looks more professional and well-maintained, enhancing the overall aesthetics of your computer setup.

Understanding the Different Types of Keyboard Cleaning

Person cleans laptop keyboard with isopropyl alcohol.

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s essential to understand the different types of keyboard cleaning. There are generally two approaches: Surface Cleaning and Deep Cleaning

Surface cleaning involves removing visible dirt and dust from the keys and the keyboard’s surface. 

On the other hand, deep cleaning involves disassembling the keyboard to clean the individual keycaps and internal components. The level of cleaning required will depend on the condition of your keyboard and your personal preferences.

Tools and Materials Needed to Clean a Keyboard

Person cleans laptop keyboard with Compressed air

You will need a few essential tools and materials to clean your computer keyboard like a pro. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  1. Isopropyl alcohol or keyboard cleaning solution: This is the primary cleaning agent to help remove dirt and disinfect the keyboard.
  2. Microfiber cloth or cotton swabs are useful for wiping down the keys and reaching into crevices.
  3. Compressed air or a keyboard vacuum will help remove loose debris between the keys.
  4. Keycap puller (for mechanical keyboards): If you have a mechanical keyboard, a keycap puller will be necessary to remove the keycaps for thorough cleaning.
  5. Mild soap and water: This is an alternative cleaning solution for keyboards that cannot be exposed to liquids.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Clean a Computer Keyboard

Person cleans laptop keyboard with isopropyl alcohol and microfiber cloth.

Now that you have all the necessary tools and materials let’s dive into the step-by-step guide on how to clean your computer keyboard like a pro:

  1. Turn off your computer and unplug your keyboard to avoid any electrical damage.
  2. If you’re using a mechanical keyboard, use a keycap puller to remove the keycaps gently. For other keyboards, proceed to the next step.
  3. Use compressed air or a keyboard vacuum to remove loose debris between the keys.
  4. Dampen a microfiber cloth or cotton swab with isopropyl alcohol or a keyboard cleaning solution. Wipe down the surface of the keys and the keyboard frame, paying attention to any sticky or dirty areas.
  5. Remove the keycaps and place them in a bowl of warm, soapy water for deeper cleaning. Let them soak for a few minutes, then gently scrub them with a soft brush or cloth. Rinse them thoroughly and allow them to dry completely before reattaching them.
  6. Once the keycaps are dry, reattach them to the keyboard, making sure they are aligned correctly.
  7. Finally, plug in your keyboard and turn on your computer. Test each key to ensure they are functioning correctly.

Following these steps, you can effectively clean your computer keyboard and maintain its optimal performance.

Tips for Cleaning Specific Types of Keyboards

Different types of keyboards may require slightly different cleaning approaches. Here are some additional tips for cleaning specific types of keyboards:

Laptop Keyboards:

A closed laptop computer with a clean keyboard and glasses on a bed. The laptop is silver and has a black keyboard.

Laptop keyboards are usually more sensitive than desktop keyboards, so it’s essential to be gentle when cleaning them. Use a soft, lint-free cloth dampened with a mild cleaning solution to wipe down the keys and the keyboard’s surface. Avoid using excessive liquid to prevent damage to the internal components.

Mechanical Keyboards:

image of a mechanical keyboard

Mechanical keyboards have individual switches for each key, making them more complex to clean. Follow the step-by-step guide mentioned earlier, but pay extra attention to cleaning the keycaps and the switch mechanism. Use a keycap puller to remove the keycaps, and be careful not to damage the switches.

Silicone or Waterproof Keyboards:

A silicone waterproof keyboard with raised braille keys. The keyboard is black and has a white braille alphabet on the keys. The keyboard is clean and free of dust. It is sitting on a wooden table.

Silicone or waterproof keyboards can be submerged in water for cleaning. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for disassembling the keyboard and cleaning the components with warm, soapy water. Rinse and dry thoroughly before reassembling.

Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning your keyboard model to avoid damage.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning a Keyboard

In addition to cleaning the keyboard itself, it’s essential to clean the accessories that come with it. Keycaps, keyboard covers, and other removable parts can accumulate dirt and grime over time. Here’s how to clean them:

  • Remove the keycaps from the keyboard using a keycap puller.
  • Fill a bowl with warm, soapy water and let the keycaps soak for a few minutes.
  • Gently scrub the keycaps with a soft brush or cloth to remove dirt or stains.
  • Rinse the keycaps thoroughly under running water and allow them to dry completely.
  • For keyboard covers, wipe them down with a damp cloth or use a mild cleaning solution if necessary.

By regularly cleaning these accessories, you can maintain a hygienic and visually appealing keyboard setup.

Professional Cleaning Services for Keyboards

If you’re uncomfortable cleaning your keyboard or have a specialized keyboard requiring professional expertise, consider hiring a professional cleaning service. These services have the knowledge and tools to clean keyboards effectively and ensure longevity. Research and choose a reputable service that specializes in keyboard cleaning to get the best results.

Conclusion: Maintaining a Clean and Functional Keyboard

Cleaning your computer keyboard like a pro is essential for every computer user. It not only improves the performance and longevity of your keyboard but also promotes a healthier and more hygienic workspace. By following the step-by-step guide, using the right tools and materials, and avoiding common mistakes, you can ensure that your keyboard remains clean and functional.

Learn more about how to clean your keyboard and other computer accessories on our website. You can also try our keyboard tester tool to test the functionality of your keyboard.

What is the best thing to clean your computer keyboard with?

Isopropyl alcohol or a keyboard cleaning solution is the best thing to clean your computer keyboard.

What are the 5 steps to clean keyboard?
  1. Turn off your computer and unplug your keyboard.
  2. Wipe down the surface of the keyboard and the keys with a soft cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol or a keyboard cleaning solution.
  3. Blow out any dust or debris from the keyboard with compressed air.
  4. If your keyboard is removable, remove the keycaps and clean them separately.
  5. Reassemble the keyboard and plug it back in.
How do I clean the keys under my computer keyboard?

Remove the keycaps to clean the keys under them. You can use a keycap puller to pry each keycap off gently. Once the keycaps are removed, clean them with a soft cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol or a keyboard cleaning solution. Be sure to dry the keycaps completely before reassembling the keyboard.

What is the easiest way to clean keyboard keys?

Compressed air is the easiest way to clean keyboard keys. It can help to blow out dust and debris from the keys, making it easier to clean them. You can also use a soft cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol or a keyboard cleaning solution to clean the keys.

Is it good to clean keyboard keys?

Yes, it is good to clean keyboard keys. Over time, keyboard keys can collect dust, dirt, and debris. This can make the keys sticky and difficult to press. Cleaning the keyboard keys can help to improve their performance and extend their lifespan.

Can I clean a keyboard without removing keys?

Yes, you can clean a keyboard without removing keys. However, it is not as effective as cleaning the keys individually. If you only want to do a quick cleaning, you can use a soft cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol or a keyboard cleaning solution to wipe down the surface of the keyboard and the keys. However, if your keyboard is heavily dirty or has spilled liquid, you may need to remove the keys to clean them properly.

How do I clean my keyboard daily?

Wipe down the surface of the keyboard and the keys with a soft cloth dampened with water. Be sure to dry the keyboard entirely after cleaning. You can also use a compressed air duster to blow out dust or debris.

Is it safe to wash a computer keyboard?

No, it is not safe to wash a computer keyboard in water. The water can damage the electronic components of the keyboard. If you need to clean a keyboard exposed to water, use a dry cloth to wipe it down. You can also use a compressed air duster to blow out any water that may have gotten inside the keyboard.

Can I use hand sanitizer to clean my laptop keyboard?

Hand sanitizer can be used to clean a laptop keyboard, but it is not the best option. Hand sanitizer can contain alcohol, damaging the keyboard’s plastic and rubber components. If you use hand sanitizer to clean your keyboard, dry it afterward.


Shifa Tariq

Shifa Tariq

Hi, I'm Shifa, the CEO and Co-founder of Best Keyboard Tester, the go-to website for comprehensive keyboard guides, in-depth reviews, and top recommendations. As a huge keyboard enthusiast and tech lover, I created this website to help everyone find the perfect keyboard, whether you're a casual typist or a hardcore gamer. Our unique online keyboard tester tool lets you virtually try different switches and layouts before buying. I'm passionate about helping people discover the joy of an excellent keyboard and always looking for ways to improve our website.

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