Introduction: Clean a Computer Keyboard

Picture of Clean a Computer Keyboard

This instructable will show you how to clean up a dirty computer keyboard

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

*Dirty keyboard (green)
*2nd keyboard or picture for reference to key location
*Flathead screwdriver
*Plastic bowl (or other bowl to clean the keys)
*Paper Towel
*Old Toothbrush (that can be thrown away after)

Step 2: Cleaning

Picture of Cleaning

1. Remove all the keys with a flathead screwdriver

2. Place removed keys in a bowl partly filled with water

3. Use a toothbrush and brush between the rows

4. Use a screwdriver wrapped with paper towel to dry in between rows

Step 3: Assemble the Keyboard

Picture of Assemble the Keyboard

After the keyboard has been cleaned :
1. Remove the keys from the water place on paper towel to dry

2. After the keys have dried, use the second reference keyboard to reattach all the keys
*Note if you don't have a second keyboard use this link for a pic *

3. Plug it in and you're done

***Make sure you throw away the toothbrush***


_Dingus_ (author)2016-05-17

Gotta get all that gamer gunk off somehow

Darknessblade. (author)2015-12-06

LOL, i took my old mac keyboard that i got for free, apart ant just putted it into a dishwasher,

this is extremely effective, and much quicker than any possible way

HaydenB1 (author)2015-07-03

Macintosh keyboard!

jpnagle59 (author)2011-01-16

Hey there- I have a keyboard I have been using for over 18 years. I cannot place it in the dishwasher because It has multiple 'skins' of plastic with land runs on them. There are little rubber ' bell' looking rubber cones that go below the keys to provide the pressure for the keys to move up and down. If I just wash the keyboard, the liquid will go between the 'plastic' layers and not dry out. Done that, found it out, hand wash for all eternity... It seems as if this keyboard was a 'hybrid' that incorporated the old IBM 'click' keys with the newer 'soft' touch keys, with the little rubber 'cones' providing the travel for the keys to touch the plastic layer underneath to complete the the circuit for the keystroke to register. The 'sway' bar on the space key has finally broken out of it's plastic holder on one end, and the plastic catch on the space key has broken off also on the same side. I love this keyboard, and not wanting to deep 6 it, I tried putting some foam rubber off an old set of ear phones under the space key at each end to try and recover it to work as close as original as possible. After a little playing around I got it to work quite well. Thanks to Kagehi for the info on the space bar fix...James

Kagehi (author)2010-11-05

One thing missing from nearly every one of these is, "How do you get the damn metal pressure balances back on the keys that have them?" I spent almost a month with a partly working space bar, after a cleaning, before I decided to rip the two Alt keys back off, then bend up a paperclip to help lock the bar back in place. Turned out, the side that seemed to be disconnected was the one clipped in, so it was pushing the unconnected end up... No wonder I couldn't get the bloody thing to clip on right.

Anyway, the trick, for those running into the problem, is to unbend the first loop of the clip, so you have a @___ shape, then bend that up, then down again, like

Making a bit of a dip in the end may help to keep the rail seated on it too. The idea is so that, when you press down on the offending key, there is enough space between it and the base of the keyboard that the paper clip isn't in the way of the key being pressed, but the bit that sticks up under the key will hold the bar in place, so it locks into the clip point. Pretty much any other tool you might try doesn't have the right angle, so it won't let you even push the key down right, and the bar won't clip in place without something to hold it high enough that the key comes down on it, instead of just lying useless in the base.

I am sure they have some actual tool for this when making these things, but heck if I know what they call it, or where you can even find one. All I know is, there is a reason I hate taking them apart to clean them, and its not the other 101+, single column, non-metal barred, keys. ;) lol

imnotarealaccount (author)2009-04-13

In my opinion if you don't know the location of most of the keys you have to learn how to type

Everyone knows how to type but don't know where every single key goes,you should take a good high res picture so that you can use the picture to put the keys back

ReCreate (author)2009-04-19

... Look at this...

teh_noob (author)2009-04-08

good instructable. most of the other ones dont open up the keyboard. yours is good. YAY :D

brodiemac (author)2009-03-24

Two tips: > Put the key caps in a bowl of hot water and one scoop of Oxiclean. Let sit for five minutes. The Oxiclean will eat anything off of the keys but leave the keys and the letters in pristine condition > For yellowing keyboards, completely remove all the components and soak the plastic in Hydrogen Peroxide. It will significantly reduce, if not eliminate, the yellowing on your keyboard.

Arcticpheonix (author)2009-03-21

There's a good chance that if you just pry the keys up, you're going to end up breaking one of the tabs that hold the keys in. In my opinion you should open the keyboard up and remove the keys from the other side.

Prometheus (author)2009-03-20

Be careful of the "sway-bars" on larger keys like the spacebar/shift/enter/tab/caps-lock keys. These are added to make the key depress properly no matter where it is pressed. Be sure you properly re-install these "sway-bars" so that they slide within the lugs provided by the keyboard face. As suggested below, start by carefully prying off a useless key first, such as the windows-key. NEVER stick an entire keyboard into the dishwasher for any reason, and if you stick (ONLY) the faceplate into the dishwasher, remove it before the drying cycle starts and let it air-dry instead, or the faceplate may distort from the heat and you'll never be able to assemble the keyboard again.

Prometheus (author)2009-03-20

Your link is incomplete for a diagram. Best idea is to write down the key order by hand to assure proper reassembly or take a picture before disassembly. Also, there is NO reason to throw away the toothbrush, just make sure it isn't used to clean teeth afterwards.

Patented (author)2009-03-08

MMmm! that was dirty but its now 'Spick an' Span! Well done

hellstudios (author)Patented2009-03-08

for me its the windows key. :P since i switched to linux the button does nothing. lol

Patented (author)hellstudios2009-03-09

Hey I also switch to linux couple days ago and I also figure that out! XD

tubajoey1 (author)Patented2009-03-10

I have been a linux user for several years now, and I still have yet to touch that freaking super button. You can turn it into a hotkey, but personally I wouldnt want to touch anything windows again! HAHAHA

bart416 (author)tubajoey12009-03-10

Get a blank keyboard, that solves the moral issue :)

tubajoey1 (author)bart4162009-03-11

I would, but I have a sony vaio laptop...which are pretty much all but impossible to take apart. I think I just got a good idea though through your thought just then...I could cover the super with black electrical tape an draw tux in white marker!!!! are the man!!!

bart416 (author)tubajoey12009-03-13

Heheh, now that's an idea. Drawing a tux on your keyboard :)

tubajoey1 (author)bart4162009-03-17

I have yet to past an instructable...this seems like one in the making. HIZZAH!!!

lukkbox (author)bart4162009-03-15

Thinkpads dont have a windows key ... on general principle i think IBM are still miffed at losing the OS race not a bad thing to have one less swastika in your life

bart416 (author)lukkbox2009-03-15

Actually you need to ask permission to microsoft to use the windows logo...

lukkbox (author)bart4162009-03-16

LMFAO! actually ... IBM thinkpads are regarded as the best keyboards in the world, and IBM the best computer company it would be an honour for microsoft to have their logo on them, but it would be derogatory for IBM to ave it on their! even the cheapest nastiest keyboards in the world have a windows key, so why doesnt the best? ever ask yourself? ask yourself this .... would you put a skoda badge on your porsche? i rest my case! or are you suggesting that microsoft denied IBM to use their logo? PMSL! the day IBM asks microsoft for anything is the day the world ends my friend go and stick that skoda badge on your porsche brother x

tubajoey1 (author)lukkbox2009-03-17

I would much rather just have the porsche than argue about a sticker...LOL.

bart416 (author)lukkbox2009-03-16

I damn well know IBM won't ask microsoft a thing. They'd rather sue microsoft than work together with them.

lukkbox (author)2009-03-15

alternatively dont eat or drink at your computer you neanderthal!

N1CK4ND0 (author)2009-03-14

My Saitek Cyborg gets dirty so fast. :[

bigt4616 (author)2009-03-12

you know you dont even have to pop out the keys, just put the whole thing in the dishwasher(btw, wireless probably is not a good idea)

bigt4616 (author)bigt46162009-03-12

just make sure its dry before you hook it back up

onesixone (author)2009-03-12

I did this job for my bro. It was really dirty Keyboards. The easiest way to clean the Caps is to throw them in your dishwasher! Be sure to avoid they are going down the drain. Put them in a net or something similiar.

sotsirh194 (author)2009-03-10

does it work with laptops?

nasmatt (author)sotsirh1942009-03-10

unless it has a removable keyboard like the iBook One pictured

davee52uk (author)2009-03-09

I can't do this with my work keyboard. What I do is to turn it upside down and gently tap it underneath. This gets most of the stuff out. Then I fold post-it notes so that the sticky part goes between the keys - this removes the rest. I can clean the keys when the machine is switched off.

Yerboogieman (author)2009-03-08

I just take the screws out and wash the side with the keys stuck in it, but mac keyboards aren't "user serviceable".

they're tricky. i had to clean my macbook keyboard cause my friend spilled a coke on it. but definitely serviceable.

tatortabby (author)2009-03-08

I have used the dishwasher about 4 times with good results. After washing, I let it stand on end for a few days in a well ventilated area. I have two old clicker keyboards that I don't run through the dishwasher. Keyboards can be had at the Salvation Army in the $1.50-$3.50 range (I have a 12yo who likes to spill sticky crap).

Matt4_16 (author)2009-03-08

Looks like you spilt pop on it!

Stew2 (author)2009-03-08

Yup, they do need a good cleaning every once in a while. I bought a couple of used Model M's off of ebay and it thoroughly amazed me how filthy they were! Couple of hours labour, and they shone like new! One of em even had old toothpicks under the keys... Ewwwww! I remove the keys to clean mine as well. Heard about the dishwasher trick before, but I have never tried it.

supersopp (author)2009-03-08

I just toss it in the dishwasher and let it dry for a couple days afterwards.

SinAmos (author)2009-03-08

THIS ISn't how you do it. You take the keyboard apart. You don't take the keys off. You wash the top with a simple dishwater brush. It's that easy.

nasmatt (author)SinAmos2009-03-08

sorry but i have my opinions and you have yours maybe you can make one showing the "right" way to do it

Clayton H. (author)2009-03-08

coffe stain HMMM?!

nasmatt (author)Clayton H.2009-03-08

actually I don't know i got it used I think it was soda

=SMART= (author)2009-03-08

Man those keyboards needed cleaning !

For a mac keyboard clean, have a look at this :

jimtran93 (author)2009-03-08

can you pry off keys on all keyboards? I'm worried i'm going to break mine!

Dorkfish92 (author)jimtran932009-03-08

You can pull the keys off of most keyboards with tall keys. Careful if your keyboard is one with the slim/low profile keys (kinda like a a laptop keyboard).

Patented (author)jimtran932009-03-08

Start by removing a useless key

nasmatt (author)jimtran932009-03-08

most of mine you can but your situation might be different so my advice is to try to remove them very carefully don't force it

About This Instructable




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