How To Clean Your Keyboard: Remove Dirt, Dust & Sticky Spots

Keyboard CleaningHow often do you clean your keyboard? Daily? Weekly? Monthly?

For most people, the answer is ‘less often than that’. It’s just not something that many of us think about very much. But just consider, for a moment, how often your hands touch your keyboard. Over time, they leave a layer of grime on and around the keys, creating a perfect environment for bacteria and leaving the surface dirty and sticky to the touch.

One of the main reasons people seem to have for not cleaning their keyboards is a lack of knowledge. They’re electronic, fiddly and complicated to clean if you don’t have the right tools. The good news is that there are several simple solutions which make regular keyboard cleaning a breeze.

Here we will take a look at a few tips and techniques on how to clean your computer keyboard and keep it squeaky clean. The following methods will work for all makes of keyboards, including Mac, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Acer, both laptop and PC.

What To Do If You’ve Split Coffee, Juice or Water on Your Keyboard

Skip this step if you haven’t (good job you’re not as clumsy as the rest of us).

Keyboard Spill

We’ve all experienced that heart-stopping moment when hot tea or coffee slops over the edge of the mug, or an open water bottle topples, and spills all over your computer desk or laptop.

It’s common knowledge that electronics and liquids don’t mix. But hydration is important; it seems natural to have a drink on hand while working long hours at a computer and accidents can happen so knowing how to fix and clean a wet keyboard is essential.

If your usual reaction following a spill at your desk is to rescue wet paperwork, wipe up the liquid with a cloth, and dab gingerly at the keyboard with a paper towel until somebody brings you a second cup of tea, then you need to rethink your process.

Hoping for the best is not a solution when water mixes with electronics; you need to ACT FAST to ensure that the electrics aren’t permanently damaged.

The first step is to turn off anything electrical which has become wet. Unplug or hold the power button until the system shuts down completely. If you have a separate keyboard, detach it from your PC. Remove any batteries.

Turn the keyboard or laptop upside down (open the laptop out as far as you can) and place it on a dry towel. You will need to let it dry for at least 24 hours, preferably 48, before switching it back on.

How To Clean Your Laptop or PC Keyboard: EASILY

Depending on your problem there’s always a solution and we’ve come up with three great ways you can clean your keyboard quickly and leave it looking brand new.

How To Clean A Sticky Or Dirty Keyboard

Day to day use will naturally cause a build-up of dirt and grim on your keyboard and you might find the keys start to feel slightly sticky to the touch. For quick cleaning of surface grime, multi-purpose universal wipes are the perfect solution.

Clinell Universal Wipes - Tub of 100

13 new from £5.95
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For regular cleaning, try these Clinell Universal Wipes; they’re quick and easy to use and come in a pack of 100 so should last for ages.

They claim to kill 99.999% of germs and are trusted by the NHS so you can be sure they do a good job. The handy storage tub has a pop up lid to keep the wipes fresh; they’re perfect for a quick, damp wipe over, but not wet enough to cause any issues with electrical equipment.

  • Easy to use
  • Great for regular cleaning
  • Neat storage tub
  • Single use wipes
  • Surface clean only
  • Non-recyclable

How To Remove Dust & Crumbs Between Keys

Even if the surface of your keyboard is clean, the spaces under and between the keys can harbour dust, and even crumbs if you are prone to eat at your desk (this is not recommended).

Cleaning these small areas can be extremely fiddly if you don’t have the right kit; even if the keys can be removed individually it is extremely time consuming and a lot of work to put them back. Here are two products which can make the job a lot easier.

Durable Powerclean Standard Air Duster

11 new from £8.51
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A simple can of compressed gas which can be aimed precisely with the aid of a small straw attachment; this is prefect for blowing out dust from tiny spaces and delicate electronics. If your keyboard is otherwise clean then this is the perfect solution for making sure there is no build-up of dust in and around the keys.

Just point and press, and the compressed air will do the rest.

  • Cleans small spaces between keys
  • Nozzle for precise aiming
  • Great for deep cleaning
  • Can gets very cold to the touch during use
  • Limited usage: small can doesn’t last very long

A great accompaniment to using compressed air to clean your computer keyboard, which is especially good at catching dust, is this rather odd looking but highly effective cleaning gel.

Keyboard Cleaning Gel, Rovtop

1 new from £3.99
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This bizarre looking blob of cleaning gel looks like something which would worry the Ghostbusters, but it’s actually a really useful piece of kit.

Made of a soft, gum-like material, it works by picking up dust and small residue from difficult to access gaps between the keys. It is recommended to remove larger particles with the enclosed brush before pressing the gel gently against the surface you want to clean.

This cleaning gel does come with its own care instructions: it should never get wet and should be kept bagged, away from direct sunlight.

  • Non-toxic and biodegradable
  • Removes small particles
  • Easy to apply
  • Does not remove embedded dirt (use wipes for this)
  • Can become stuck under keys if you press on too hard

BONUS: How To Clean Your Screen

Computer ScreenIf you’ve followed the above keyboard cleaning tips then you’ll have a shining clean keyboard, possibly for the first time since you bought it!

Now that you’re on a cleaning mission, it seems fitting to tackle another, often overlooked part of your computer: the screen. And no, rubbing your sleeve across it when you notice a smear or dust build-up really isn’t the best way to treat an expensive bit of kit.

Once again, the correct tools make the job a lot easier. Starting with a proper cloth and cleaning solution.

Natural Screen Cleaner & Microfibre Towel

1 new from £11.45
2 used from £ 10.43
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as of January 22, 2022 7:40 am

The super soft microfiber cloth is a good size (20 x 20cm) and will clean without scratching or damaging your screen. The alcohol free spray will help you remove dirt without smearing or streaking. Best of all, this is an eco-friendly product; the spray bottle can be reused with the purchase of a refill (see 500ml refill bottle here) and the cloth can be washed between uses.

How Dirty Is A Computer or Laptop Keyboard?

Dead skin, dust, dirt, crumbs and spilled liquids: all things which can end up on and between your computer keyboard keys. If you are prone to eating at your desk you might even add mouse droppings to this distasteful list, while coughing and sneezing add their own unpleasantness in the form of germs and mucus. An uncleaned keyboard could be dirtier than a toilet seat (20,000 times dirtier, to be precise). It could even play host to drug resistant bacteria which have been shown to survive for up to 24 hours.

How often should you clean your keyboard?

Sound gross, right? But there’s no need to panic. Regular cleaning will keep the germs at bay and basic precautions, such as covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and avoiding lunch at your desk, will help. If you also wash your hands before use (and after, if you use a shared office or public device) you should get away with cleaning a couple of times a month. Regular cleaning, using the quick cleaning products described above, will not take more than a few minutes of your time and you can rest easy in the knowledge that you won’t be picking up any microscopic nasties from your computer.

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