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!

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 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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I could hug you right now.

The.Skeldon1 month 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.

BarbH12 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!4 months ago

Thanks for the instructions!

JoAnn77PL6 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!

bsaul111 months 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
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.
admiral0014 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.
babushkin4 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...