3 Steps to Keep Your Keyboard Clean for Life

  • Answer:  Your keyboard is one of them, and the other two will be revealed after you clean your keyboard (Whatever! Mouse and phone are the other two).


really dirty keyboardNow take a good hard look at your keyboard.  How have things comes this far?!!  Sure there’s some dust and wear that’s outside of your control, but most of the filth is caused by, errr, you and your eating, sneezing, coughing, and drinking.  Months out of the box and you’ve turned your keyboard into germ central.   But don’t worry, a few simple steps and you’ll have your keyboard quickly back to DFCS (default factory clean settings).

First things first.  Fingers do not belong inside toasters, outlets, or powered keyboards.  So unplug your keyboard, and if it’s battery-powered please take out any batteries before we start working on it.

Turn the keyboard upside down and give it a shake.  If any loose change falls out you can save it for laundry.  The best way to get out the more stubborn bits is to use some compressed air with short bursts of air from different angles.  This will dislodge any pizza crumbs that are incubating under the keys.  Do NOT point the compressed air at your dog because he will want MORE and you’ll end up using the whole can!

hamster eating on dirty keyboardAny grime on top of the keys or on the sides of the keys can be swabbed off pretty easily with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol.  Just a bit of the alcohol will do, you don’t want any droplets heading down between the gaps and towards the circuitry.

And you always have the option of letting Mr. Clean do most of the work for you with one of these beauties. Just remember that these magic erasers are abrasive cleaners, use light pressure to start with or you might take off more than the grime.

tool to pull keycaps off keyboardIf you make it through all of this and still aren’t satisfied you can always take the individual keys off and clean out what’s underneath.   It’s surprisingly easy but it really only applies to standard keyboards, we don’t recommend doing this with laptops.  Most keyboard companies will have recommendations on how to do this their various keyboards, and some even supply a tool to quickly remove keycaps.  Keep in mind that keycaps can vary in size, so if you’re pulling them off it’s best to keep track of the layout so you can put it back together properly.

OK, now that you have the keyboard back to DFCS, there are a couple steps you can take to keep it that way.  Germs will hate you for this but your keyboard will love you for it.

  • First, have some dedicated cleaning supplies within reach of your keyboard.  Compressed air and microfiber cloths will do the trick when it comes to weekly maintenance.
  • And even more importantly, make a home for them near your workstation.  Not tucked away on a hidden shelf, but an actual home where they are visible to you.  Whether it’s a cigar box, a small plate, or a Dorito bag doesn’t really matter.  The point is that the cleaning supplies live there, you’ll see them every day, and when they are not there you will notice.  That is the best way to create a habit.
  • Dedicate a maximum of 2 minutes per week (you can do it!) to cleaning your keyboard.  Then see what it looks like in a few months, you’ll be speechless and can celebrate with a pizza.
  • And last you always have the option of keeping a pic like this pinned to your monitor to act as a reverse motivator.  Good luck!

what can happen if you don't clean your keyboardP.S. For any of you soda-guzzling, muffin-pounding lost causes out there, the device of choice by IT pros to save money on compressed air is one of these DataVac mini vacuums.  Same rule applies, do NOT point at your dog.