Picture of Clean Your Sticky Laptop Keyboard
So your laptop keys stick for one reason or another. Perhaps you spilled a drink on it, or you just like to eat and surf the web at the same time.

I had the misfortune of spilling some Mountain Dew on my keyboard about two years ago, and this method has kept my keys working smoothly  ever since.  Cleaning your laptop is simple, but time consuming.  Take your time and don't try to force anything and you should have a perfectly functioning keyboard once more!

Click the "i" in the upper left hand corner of any picture to view the full resolution file.
56k beware, most of these files are 4-5 MB.

For any sticky situation, following these steps will make your keyboard work and feel like new!

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Step 1: Shut Down... Fast!

Picture of Shut Down... Fast!
If you just spilled something on your keyboard, shut your computer down as fast as possible!

Your first order of business is to shut down your computer and remove the battery - as quickly as possible if you spilled liquid on it. Force shut down your computer by holding the power button until it turns off. Any data loss during this process should be minimal and less costly than any shorted-out hardware.

Step 2: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials
To give your laptop a thorough cleaning, you will need:

- A cup or container large enough to hold all the keys on your keyboard
- Rubbing alcohol
- Cotton swabs (Q-Tips)
- Dish soap (without bleach) or some other mild detergent
- Paper towels
- Flathead screwdriver
- Towel

Most of these supplies are probably already sitting around your house or apartment, but I doubt you'll spend over $10 if for some reason you need to purchase everything.

Step 3: Initial Wipedown

Picture of Initial Wipedown
Soak up as much of any spilled liquid as you can with a paper towel or rag.  Make sure to get all surfaces of your computer, including the screen. 

It's quite possible that you splashed liquid into every deep dark crevice of your computer during your spill.  Use your cotton swabs if necessary, but don't worry about getting in between the keys, we'll get to that soon.

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chunksfantasm2 months ago

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, ;l;hggy77777777777777777777777777j8880000000ffftrrrrrrzzzzzzs2f5][0411111111111111dssssssssssssgl;'][iiiiiiiiw1w4444440--

charlizer2 months ago

I spilled cider on the arrow keys of my laptop, but I'm hesitant to remove the keys for fear they won't work and I'll be in a worse fix. Is it possible to clean it without removing the keys?

ron.michel12 months ago

the return spring or leverage system used to lift the key is in question. you need to remove the key (prying at the top of said key down most likely) and figure out why the key is not coming back up (or falling when it just starts to type the s over and over) you might find you could use a spring, or toothpick to create a way to lift said key. but over all replace keyboard or use of external keyboard is cheap)

DavíV2 months ago

I never spilled something in my laptop's keyboard, but the letter "s" stopped all of sudden and sometimes (when I'm typing some text) my computer shows the letter "s" continuasly, until I press shift, esc or windows key.
I guess its a problem in the circuit itself, because I've installed Windows again (I was planning to do it before the problem)
Do you think that there is any solution better than buying a new keyboard?

jaldridge3 months ago

Methylated spirits is what I use, it's good because it doesn't get things too wet, due to the extreme flammability..

darraughbj4 months ago

Great post, in doing the cleaning myself I found that hydrogen peroxide is a good alternative to cleaning the sugar off if you don't have any alcohol around.

ClareK14 months ago


bsaul11 year ago
I have the same problem but I think is more advanced in my case.
My laptop ( hp DV7) totally blocks - no answer from the keyboard, mouse or anything else. The only solution is to turn it off from the button. I tried to repair it, I have reinstalled the windows, drivers, I have cleaned up the cooler. Is till have the problem on a fresh installed OS. It still blocks all the time.
If the problem is still exsit,buying a a new keyboard is the best suggestion
ASquirrelS bsaul14 months ago

either this is spam or you don't have stuff plugged in correctly.

Replacing the keyboard will NOT solve a mousepad not working. Nor will it affect anything other than the keyboard.

The.Skeldon6 months ago

All I have done is get some WD40 and stick the tube between the sticky keys an have a TINY squirt and jobs a gooden.
WD40 is not going to harm your computer.

On youtube they make a water proof PC and fill the clear case with oil as oil isn't a conductor. I recommend trying it before removing your keys.

WD40 won't harm the electronics of the computer, but it CAN dissolve some plastics. And sadly, it is a temporary fix to a permanent problem.

Silicone spray works much longer and doesn't dissolve plastics and stink like WD40 does. Not wanting to be mean here, but there are different designs for different coolant fluids with each computer. Oil is a better dialectic than air, and it conducts heat better(so it cools better too). Water is even better than oil because it has a higher specific heat and it conducts heat better too. There are lots of water cooled PC's out there. Doesn't mean water won't harm your air-cooled laptop.

Kudos on it working for you though!

I could hug you right now.

BarbH18 months ago

this does not work. the keys do not click back into the slot. there are 3 pieces to each key and you don't show how they go together. so now i have to take this laptop in somewhere and get it fixed, not too happy

johnapaz made it!10 months ago

Thanks for the instructions!

JoAnn77PL11 months ago

Thanks so much for this post! Several days ago (before Easter) I spilled, well actually my ferret spilled a glass of Coke on my laptop. I obviously switched it off, patted it well and dried. But alt, shift and 'n' keys were so stuck with 'sugar-free' drink underneath that it was impossible to write anything. You gave me back my laptop technically :) Although shift still doesn't work perfectly, I hope that after repeat of procedure it will be ideal back again. THANKS!

all night for me. i only attempted this AFTER ordering a replacement for $10.50. those carriers are flimsy, but only one shot across the room - i found it. maybe 10% came apart. a few seemed a little mis-shaped from removal. I had to do they whole keyboard cuz the previous owner spilled a sugary coffee all over it. I found this out after taking the keyboard out to replace the cmos battery. "What's that brown stuff? Lick finger, rub, sniff... mmm, sweet coffee!"
Step 2: Spend $10 on a new one.
Believe it or not, the computer shop i worked for had a dishwasher in the back. We used it for computer panels and keyboards! It worked great, they came out looking brand new in most cases...
I inherited an old, "well loved" laptop that was born back in 2003 and after ripping the thing apart to change the CMOS battery, which required the removal of nearly eight thousand screws, and cleaning up an interior spill, of which I could only assume was soda (I hope it was soda!), I was dismayed to discover all my arrow keys, the right shift, end, alt and ctrl keys were all pretty dang sticky as well. I was terrified of snapping off the keys only to find I wouldn't be able to get them back on.

Your guide was extremely helpful and I'm happy to say my keys are nearly good as new and still work! I've been having a lot of issues with random BSODs and general flibbity jibbitness while trying to beat this thing back into shape and it occurred to me that a ctrl key that may be stuck partially down while trying to install things could throw a wrench into the works.

I'm sure the machine is just gasping its last breath but I'm going to continue to do CPR until there's nothing left to be done. What's ironic is after I delicately beat this thing back into shape, I'm going to be handing it over to a five year old to play educational games on since those will run just fine on an older machine. I'm thinking she'll turn it back into poo in less than a month.

Anyhow. Thanks for the guide! Very helpful!!
awarby3 years ago
Thanks so much! I got my computer back from having the keyboard replaced(under warranty) and found that they'd wiped my whole hard drive...and then the very next night I spilled part of a drink on it....there is a slight amount of liquid damage on the screen, but mostly just sticky keys. I think I can save her...but can I save me from my klutzy self ! HA! I shall try it!
THANKS for this instructable! My "p" key was sticking, and you gave me the courage and info to just pop it off and check it out. A little "goober" is now outta the way and I can use the p key to my heart's content.
Good Instruc-- IS THAT YOUR THUMB? Holy mackerel, that mother is freaking LONG! Is that even natural? Jesus help us all! But yeah, good Instructable. Fortunately, I've not had to use it yet, as I take extra care when nomming around the computer.
admiral0015 years ago
Good Instructable, very thorough. If you forget to map your keyboard beforehand, you can also bring up the on screen keyboard. It also has the added benefit of lighting up the key on the screen when pushed on the keyboard for easy double checking.
babushkin5 years ago
dude thanks for this. I spilled coke on my new laptop and I used your guide to clean it up. The spacebar is still a little sticky, but otherwise, your methods worked beautifully. Took me over 6 hours from disassembling it to assembling it back lol
J-Five5 years ago
Prevention is the best method dont drink or eat at the computer.
karossii5 years ago
Pretty decent instructable. I wonder how long it will take for the 'sticky keyboard' porn jokes to commence?

Assuming my comment isn't considered one...