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How To Clean a Laptop keyboard

Posted by Jamie on May 3, 2019

Want to know how to properly clean a laptop keyboard? It’s just one of the many housekeeping tasks you need to perform on a regular basis along with cleaning the screen, checking for dust and verifying airflow. It’s the work of less than a minute but can have a serious impact on the longevity and hygiene of your laptop!

If you spend as much time on your laptop as I do on mine, the keyboard will go through quite a lot during an average day. Even the cleanest typist will leave dirt, oil and debris behind which will gradually build up on that keyboard. Not only is this a hygiene issue, it could stop your keyboard working after a while.

Laptop keyboards are harder to clean than desktop keyboard. With a desktop, you just need to power off the computer, use a PC vacuum for loose dust and a clean cloth. It’s detail work depending on whether you have a mechanical keyboard or not but it’s also satisfying. Especially when you look down at a clean, stain-free keyboard.

Cleaning a laptop keyboard

Even if your personal hygiene is top class, your fingers sweat, carry bacteria, debris from pets and the rest of the house, you drop crumbs, minuscule drips of coffee or juice and all kinds of food and drink. Even if you’re think you’re a clean worker, your keyboard will likely say otherwise.

So how do you give a laptop keyboard a thorough clean?

Power off your laptop

Save your work or whatever you were doing and power down. Some people like to remove the battery or remove the laptop from the charger. That isn’t really necessary but if it makes you feel better, go for it.

Use a computer vacuum

If you have a computer vacuum or a handheld suitable for cars, use that to remove dirt and dust. Don’t use your household vacuum as it is too powerful and could pull internal wiring if there is any. Use the vacuum to remove as many hairs, dust and visible debris as possible.

We usually use compressed air to clean computers but I wouldn’t recommend that here. All you’ll do is blow the dust into the laptop chassis and that’s not good.

Clean the keys

I usually suggest using a clean cloth and isopropyl alcohol for cleaning oil and dirt off the keys but some of the newer antibacterial wipes also work well. This is the detail work so clean every key thoroughly, paying special attention to any stains or ground in dirt. Work your way around the entire keyboard in any order you like as long as you get everywhere.

Then use a clean dry cloth or paper towel to remove any moisture you left behind during the clean.

Let it dry

If you have the time, allow the keyboard time to air dry to ensure all traces of moisture are gone before powering your laptop up. If you don’t have time, make extra sure to remove all moisture with the dry cloth as above. Pay particular attention to the edges of keys and the surface between keys. If moisture is going to leak into the laptop chassis it will do so from there.

Once dry, you can use your laptop as you need.

How often should you clean your laptop keyboard?

As with any cleaning routine, the more often you do it, the less time it will take. There is no need to do this every day though. Once or twice a month should be enough for even the heaviest laptop user. It only takes five minutes and yet can help keep your laptop looking like new and improve your overall daily hygiene while you’re there.

Cleaning stubborn stains on a laptop keyboard

If you have something stuck to your laptop keyboard that no amount of cleaning will remove, you can remove the keyboard if you need to. Laptops vary in how they are put together but you will usually remove the screws holding the base to the chassis, remove a couple of screws holding the top case onto the chassis and the keyboard should slide out.

Remove the ribbon connector from the keyboard and it should be completely removable. Place it on a flat surface and use more clean cloths and isopropyl alcohol to remove the stain. Dry it thoroughly and replace.

This is purely optional and dependent on the warranty situation of your laptop. Some warranties are voided if you open the case so check before doing this!

That’s how to clean your laptop keyboard. Do it often and you should keep it looking good forever. It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it!

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