How to Clean Desktop Keyboard

Anyone who has seen South Park’s World of Warcraft episode has to admit that there is a grain of truth there for most of us. If you’ve ever taken part in an epic gaming marathon, or even if you work in front of a screen all day, chances are that you’ll have eaten something while sat in front of your keyboard.

Fortunately, most keyboards are relatively easy to clean, and there are few things that you can do to make the process easier. Let’s take a look at how you can up your desktop hygiene.

Make Sure It’s Not Supplied with Electricity

Before you start the cleaning process, you should make sure that your keyboard isn’t powered up or plugged in. If it’s a USB keyboard, it’s as simple as removing its USB cable from the port on your computer. If it is wireless, you can remove the wireless connector from the USB port, though you should still also remove the batteries from the keyboard.

Even though you generally don’t need to use much liquids to get the job done, some of the methods do involve things like isopropyl alcohol. You’ll be much less likely to do any damage to it if there isn’t any electricity being supplied to the keyboard. It’ll also avoid any of the keypresses doing anything unintended on your computer.


Remove the Keys

This isn’t a definite requirement for cleaning your keyboard, as you can get a fair majority of the built-up dirt out without taking the keys out. Even so, if you want to be thorough, as well as clean all leftover dirt or hairs, then it’s still a good idea.

Quite how simple this process is varies depending on the keyboard you are using. If you have a mechanical keyboard like a Corsair gaming keyboard, the keys are pretty prominent and can be easily removed without the need for special tools. However, some keyboards have a slimmer profile and recessed keys, and you may well need a tool to get under there to remove them.

If you want to clean the keys themselves, then you can put them in a colander and rinse them using warm water, then put them on a towel to dry. If that’s not enough to get them clean, then you can try mixing a tablespoon of dish soap in a bowl of water, and cleaning them with that.

Shake Out the Loose Dirt

The simplest way to get rid of most of the junk that’s built up inside your keyboard is to shake it loose. Take the keyboard in both hands and turn it upside down. Give it a firm but gentle shake and the dirt will fall out. Tilt it in different directions to help ensure that you get out as much as possible, and you can even give it a few smart taps to get even more dirt out.

If you’re hearing rattling noises while doing this, then there’s probably some muck stuck under the keys, which means you’ll be best off removing them as mentioned above to be sure that you’ve got all of the dirt out.


Blow the Dirt out

A canister of compressed air can be your best friend when cleaning a computer and this holds true for keyboards too. They’re easy enough to find, most electronics stores stock them, as well as office suppliers and some general stores too. Also, you can always get one online.

Hold the canister at a 45-degree angle to the keyboard, and keep the nozzle at least half an inch away from it. Too close, and you might do some damage, though too far and it won’t do as good a job. Use short, controlled bursts of air, and sweep back and forth across the keyboard. It can also help to tilt it and blow from different directions.

Suck the Dust out

Another option is to use either a dust vacuum or a normal vacuum with a brush attachment to suck the dirt out from your keyboard. You need to be careful though, as loose keys might get sucked up and you’ll have to fish them out of the vacuum when you’re done.

Clean the Keys with Alcohol

If you want to clean your keyboards keys, but aren’t confident about taking them off of it, then you can use isopropyl alcohol to get the job done. It evaporates much more quickly than water, and so is far less likely to get inside the keyboard and do damage. It’s a good way to get any lingering oils and dirt out.

Lightly dampen the end of a cotton swab and rub it against each for sides of each key. Don’t use too much alcohol though, or it may drip down into the body of your keyboard. Repeat for each key, and remember to use a new cotton bud when the one you are using gets dirty. No point in smearing muck around.

Wipe It Down

Once you’ve finished cleaning your keyboard, give it a pass with a lint free cloth to polish it off, and to remove any lingering moisture. Alcohol evaporates quickly, within a minute or so, while water takes a lot longer. So, if you used the latter you might want to wait up to 24 hours before plugging the keyboard back in.

Clean as a Whistle

Now you can get back to typing and gaming with a fully refreshed and shiny keyboard, and you don’t have to worry about people judging you when they see your computer. If you’ve got any other methods for cleaning the keyboard, why not share them with us in the comment section below?

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