Picture of Clean your Keyboard in the Dishwasher
I have a keyboard that became very dirty with the years. Its (originally) white color and clear case made the dirt very apparent.

So I wanted to give the dishwasher a try, and without taking each key apart -- patience has its limits!

It worked great for me, and just requires some caution.
  • If possible, take the case apart. This will help the dirt, then the water, go away.
  • Allow to dry completely. It will take days. Failing to do it may cause shorts and harm your keyboard and your computer!
  • Wash at mild temperature.
These instructions have details for an old Mac keyboard, but the principle is not limited to this model.

In any case, please use your common sense; do it at your own risk; in case of doubt, don't do it. (Well, you're on instructables.com)

Step 1: Needed Stuff

Picture of Needed Stuff
Depending on your model, use the appropriate screwdrivers.

I needed a TX5 (small hex) and a PH0 (small Phillips), from my warranty voiding kit.

And important: You need a second keyboard, to be used while the first one is drying (it takes days!). Otherwise, the temptation to use the still wet one may be too high.

Optionally an USB hub is useful to lower the risk of harming your computer when testing the keyboard at the end of the process.
This is great! Nice Ible! No-one ever believed me when I told the to clean their keyboards this way... It works so well, we had a dish-washer set up in the bathroom at the service department of the computer repair shop... They usually come out looking brand new! and I never took them apart, I just put them in key side down. then let them hang dry over-night. I have never had one come out "not working" 100% came out clean and working...
dchall83 months ago

I just use the Keyboard setting on the dishwasher. ;-)

meanm507 months ago

As a professional electronics cleaner, (fire damage restoration) I have to say...this is a terrible idea. I mean, true. It's only a keyboard. If you really care, please read on.

Your tap water contains a lot more than just H, 2, and O. It contains many other 'impurities' that as a human being, are plenty safe for consumption...but for electronics mean several dangers exist.

First, the obvious. Electricity. Water is actually quite an amazing insulator...IF it's pure. This type of water is called 'deionized' water. This is even different than distilled water. It contains ZERO impurities. The impurities (calcium, chloride, flouride, sulfate, nitrate...the list is long) are the reason most folks think 'water' is conductive. It's the particles that AREN'T water that conduct. Being as we are directly talking about a keyboard, I will move on because electrically, keyboards are pretty simple objects.

Issue #2 is heat. There is NO way to regulate heat of the water or the dryer in a dish washer. Plastic housings and such will completely alter structure and fail around 135F. I've seen TV bezels that have sagged or warped even as low as 120F...still not my BIG concern, but worth noting.

The BIG issue with this method is corrosion. These 'impurities' that I have been talking about also create our big issue. Deionized water won't rust or corrode because it's 'pure' water. Tap water (like your dish washer uses) still has all the conductive and corrosive impurities in it, and will definitely shorten the lifespan of the device. It's impossible to put a number on it, it would depend on the keyboard, the tap water and the soap you use in your dish washer (even if you don't use soap on the keyboard, there will be different additive packages in different soaps and those will leave different deposits behind inside the dish washer) If I were forced to guess, I'd say a keyboard's lifespan might be shortened by up to 40%. The upside to this particular instructable is that the keyboard in question is an Apple keyboard...and Apple does use a coating to protect them internally.

A good 'hands on' proof: we all have an old broken dvd player or vcr laying around...dish wash it...pull it out when it's done and let it sit on the counter for 24 hours. I'd be willing to bet that you will see evidence of corrosion or rust. (especially in a VCR...with all motors and gears in there) Yes. 24 hours later, your device is already dead.

Anyhoo, that's my $.02. Probably a little too much info shared about washing keyboards, but it's my living...I geek out of this stuff.

AL03U10 months ago

Just to confirm that this method works. Instead of a dishwasher, I just dunked everything into a tub of soapy water and rinsed with running water. I have done it twice this year. No problems yet. The difficult part for me is committing to using the backup keyboard for a few days (2 weeks for me), while the main keyboard air dries.

I will try to make a weekly habit of cleaning/sanitizing my keyboard, but in less drastic ways. Maybe spraying with sanitizer once a week and wiping off. To prevent the cleaning fluid from running in between the keys, I might hold the keyboard upside down during the entire procedure. Some kind of contraption to suspend the keyboard face-down may be needed - but that's for another instructable.

Thanks for the useful information you've provided!

GraphixS61 year ago
I need that shirt.
Same as you. That shirt is awesome.
derykl1 year ago
Careful about doing this with Apple Aluminium Keyboards, you know the thin sealed ones. The problem is because they're sealed they're almost impossible to properly dry out. You can pry off the F-keys - though this can easily break the plastic scissor mechanism underneath - and carefully poke some holes in the bare membrane there with a pin to give evaporation a fighting chance around the electronics, but it won't help with moisture that gets trapped between the membrane layers further down.

I spilled orange juice on mine so it was necessary (it worked but had sticky keys, and I don't think citric acid is good for keyboards in the long term) but it took at least a month before all the keys worked again, and about 1 year later I still have problems with the right shift key taking too long to 'de-contact' (type a capital letter using the right shift key, and the next 2-3 letters will end up in capitals as it can take half a second, which for a keyboard is a long time) and the colon key requires an extra hard 'stab' to get it to register.

I have tried all sorts of tricks with IPA etc to help with those last 2 keys and the end result is this keyboard will probably never work perfectly again. Beats forking over another £40 to Apple though.
zomfibame3 years ago
nice idea, I'm gonna' try this. ........ .... I knew someone who'd spilled pineapple n' cottage cheese on her laptop; She thought it was dead and let me keep it.... I took it all apart n' kept the hard drive and the DVD drive out along with the battery... washed all the sticky memory cards, mother board etc. off in my sink with warm soapy water n' rinsed em off.... then for drying parts off, I used my electric oven on the lowest "warm" setting. I put two spare 12" ceramic tiles I had on the oven rack (like a pizza stone) to distribute the heat more evenly... very shortly the thing was dry enough to put back together.... I ended up needing to jimmy-rig the start button, but other than that it ran like a champ for years after that.
techno19993 years ago
sunshiine3 years ago
This is another one of my favorite post from you. Super job!
That's wild! I saw the title and I think my jaw really dropped haha. I don't know if I'm brave enough to actually try this but I appreciate that you've made me aware of the option. Love the warranty voiding kit too.
laxap (author)  sherrycayheyhey3 years ago
It's only a question of patience, to insure that no water remains into the keyboard. Opening it helps the drying process.

I had a colleague having the Thinkgeek t-shirt (instead of the skills) but I prefer to have the kit! ;-)
LesB3 years ago
Tried it and this works very well. Keyboard came out sparkling clean.
And, well, yeah, it's a good idea to let it dry off completely, I let mine sit unused for a weed to dry. BUT---
In reality it would probably work just fine wet. The keyboard works with low voltage, so there would be no danger to the user. And since the last cycle in the dishwasher is the rinse, any residual water would have a very low conductivity and the electrical operation of the keyboard would not be effected.
But don't pay attention to me and let the thing dry real well. Just because.
gristlehead3 years ago
In the little computer shop I used to work in, with basic PS/2 keyboards we would use a 10 gallon bucket of warm water with just a little dishwashing liquid in it, and one with cool clean water in it. We'd dunk the keyboard over and over in the cleaning bucket a few times, use a toothbrush on the white text on the keys, then dunk it a few times in the other bucket to get all the soap out. Then hang it gently by the cord to dry for a week. This was for the older, more "rugged" keyboards of yesteryear. :-)
I don't have it in me to put my keyboards through the dishwasher, but this is a nice method of cleaning them. Maybe one day I will try it out. :)
keitha514 years ago
Hmm, think I am gonna clean the keyboard the old fashioned way.
gregdoom4 years ago
I just put my whole laptop in the dishwasher. It's clean and smells great, but now it won't turn on. Any ideas?
thingy gregdoom4 years ago
I did the same thing. I figured it had water in it, so i put it in the oven on 350 with my cupcakes. It still won't turn on... Any ideas?
gregdoom thingy4 years ago
I'm actually typing this from inside my oven right now. It's a little hot in here, but the computer turns on. Maybe I should browse instructables for a tutorial about how to make a wig. My hair burned off.
Holy !@#$? > a Typing Muffin!!!
Meh thats nothing. My hands have started melting... Hehe.

On a serious note, I have dropped a phone in a sink before, and by removing the battery, drying it out disassembled for a couple fo days, it worked fine. The only thing that was never quite the same was a smear on the screen in a spot which I couldn't get behind to wipe.

shortw thingy4 years ago
If an electronic circuit gets wet the first thing to do is to get rid of the power.
So don't wash it with the battery.
If you dry an electronic circuit do not apply a lot of heat since electronic chips could be destroyed easily with higher heat.
350 F is way to high a temperature about 120 F or 140 would had been ok for about 2 days. Usually everything higher than 150-160 F could destroy chips.
probably got water in the hard drive, which basically will brick it. anything getting into your hard drive except filtered air will brick it. (least so i herd) if you have ever taken a hard drive apart at least the desktop ones, it has a pretty hefty filter to keep everything out of it. so thats probably what happened. or theres is water elsewhere and when u tried to turn it on it shorted something. generally not good.
laxap (author)  falcon50524 years ago
If the files get wet, they inflate a bit and the laptop won't boot. Open the files for some hours until dry.

In the oven, the files may shrink; you can correct them with 7zip or similar.

After repeating the process too often, the files may crack. All you can do then, is sell them on a warez site...
shortw gregdoom4 years ago
Take your battery out and disconnect your power cord.
Keep it in a warm place, like outside in the sun or in your car that sitting in the sun for 2 days or more.
Dry it out completely.
It may help to take the back cover off so water can evaporate.
After all the water evaporates it should be ok.
mogui gregdoom4 years ago
When we had a bunch of newly assembled boards we would wash them in the dishwasher. I forget what detergent we used. This took the solder paste residue off. I laundered my Android phone by mistake. Here are some suggestions:

1/ Never get your LCD wet. I was lucky that my Android LCD was well sealed. Water kills LCD screens.
2/ As soon as you discover that you have wetted some electronics, remove power or battery. I once saw a motherboard mostly etched away by power on a board wetted with alkaline water.
3/ Do not wash electronics without taking it apart so you can see what you are wetting. Dry by hand, hair dryer (cautiously) before re-assembly. Make sure everything is completely dry before applying power.
LesB4 years ago
I wash all kindsa plastic utensils with hot water in the dishwasher, with no broblemo, so I don't see why a keyboard shouldn't be able to take the heat.
blodefood4 years ago
I've never thought of using a dishwasher. Years ago, I was the office gopher/geek/graphic/greeter at a small truck parts manufacturer and there were several keyboards that got gummed up with cola and coffee with creme and sugar. I took them apart on the advice of our external tech and rinsed them well in a laundry sized sink in the men's room. I let them dry three days — over the weekend — and put them back together. They were in top clicking order and smelled better too.
flyingpuppy4 years ago
NEVER would have thought of that. Very ingenious.
warranty voiding kit, awesome. i just have a 3 year old for that...
karrro4 years ago
laxab is not responsible for the keyboard to get bent, broken, or detective problems
Dr. dB4 years ago
...could also enhance the fan idea by using it to re-direct the outflow of a dehumidifier onto the keyboard...
firefly684 years ago
I wish I could do this! How can I clean my laptop? I'm embarrassed to say how dirty it is--grit, crumbs, beer residue, probably a chicken feather or two... Vacuuming doesn't help much. Any suggestions?
Is that ALL you have in your laptop keyboard? You should see mine - cigarette ash, many types of alcoholic beverage, I'm not sure about the chicken feather but my wife's 3 damned cats like taking turns at sleeping on our computer keyboards . . . .
Dr. dB StuNutt4 years ago
I'm not sure that's what they meant by "CAT-5"...
I've heard about this microfiber cleaning gel- I cant remember what it's called, but I bet a quick google search will turn it up. What it is, it's like a silly putty type consistency, and you just roll it over whatever you need to clean and it supposedly cleans into all of the cracks.
drafael4 years ago
I did this a couple of years ago to a keyboard that had died (it seemed to have been filled with some kind of sludge, exact same model of keyboard) but I didn't unscrew the back and I took all of the keys off the keyboard. Stuck the keys in the cutlery holder, the keyboard in the plate area and then washed it. Made the dishwasher smell awful! Over the next week as it dried the keyboard became more and more functional though it never felt or operated quite as well as a normal keyboard. Still, that was probably more to do with the sludge at the start. Last time I tested it, all keys worked except the eject key.
laxap (author)  drafael4 years ago
No matter what you do, the eject key never works very well ;-)
On the Mac I've found that you have to hold the eject key down for at least one second, and it won't eject while it's still trying to read the disk
nygma4 years ago
I use to run a computer lab, when funding ran out I had to get creative about fixing old keyboards. So I started washing the keyboards people would gunk up with food and sodas. I never put them in a dishwasher, just cleaned them in the office sink with soap, dried them up with towels and a hand blower. Good as new!
Foxtrot704 years ago
GREAT Instructable!!! 30 years ago when I was a Ground Radio Repairman in the Air Force. We did very much the same thing with radio equipment. We would remove the covers and spray the equipment with Fantastic let soak for about 20-30 minutes then hose off with clear water. Keep in mind as a military thing equipment must be kept clean and in inspection order. Like your Instructable points out after washing a drying period is required, unfortunately water and electricity don't play well together. In some instances when time was a factor we would use 91% alcohol to finish rinse the equipment, this would force the water to evaporate more rapidly and then followed by a blasting with air hose and then ready for service in about an hour.
laxap (author)  Foxtrot704 years ago
Thanks for the information. How did you dispose of the alcohol?
Foxtrot70 laxap4 years ago
Since the alcohol is 91% bu volume it evaporates on its own readily and leaves no residue. The air hose blasting enhances the drying process.
REA4 years ago
where did you get that screwdriver kit?
laxap (author)  REA4 years ago

I don't remember, but aephix found one on Amazon.
I used to work in an electronics assembly plant. We used deionized distilled water (to prevent any contaminants from being deposited onto our work) to clean up our pcb's before they went out the door. As long as there is no electricity (or charged capacitors), it is perfectly safe to clean electronics with water. I'd recommend a hair dryer; it's not hot enough to melt the solder and doesn't produce enough psi to risk damaging components. I would, however, try to avoid anything which could cause static buildup.
laxap (author)  threecardmonty4 years ago
Thank you for this informative comment.
dadcock4 years ago
Wow, I'm so afraid to try this, but if you've done it and it was successful, it could be worth a try! Thank you for the instructions!!!!
jblanke4 years ago
Great idea!

I opened my keyboard and washed all the keys with soap and water and a scrub brush...after, i placed the parts in my oven at its lowest setting (125 F i think) and cracked the door a lil bit to let the moisture and excess heat escape (so as not to warp the plastic) after about 20-30 mins it was bone dry and I put it all back together and all is great once again.
YoshiDan4 years ago
I've washed my keyboard in the dishwasher before. When drying it I shook the hell out of it and then put it keys facing down on top of a towel in a warm sunny spot for about 4 days. Every day I'd give it a good shake to get any water out. Worked great.
Steven2564 years ago
This is actually the A+ Certified way to wash your keyboard. People are always so shocked when I tell them to stick it in the dish washer..

Top shelf,
Medium heat,
No detergent,
and let it dry.

Good show.

I just don't recommend it for any of those specialty keyboards with the LCD screens in them.
chuckyd4 years ago
I spilled a soft drink on a keyboard years ago. I took the back off it, and washed both pieces under the tap with hot water. Then I patted it dry with a towel and finished drying with hair dryer. Plugged it in immediately and it worked fine ever since.
conman7114 years ago
try putting the keyboard in a bag of rice, should take no longer than a day to completely dry out
Sure, but then you have the rice and rice dust in between your keys.
he3r04 years ago
so keyboard first was black, and afer cleaning became white? (just kidding)
but instead of putting whole keyboard into dishwasher, witch is not a good idea, though it may work, i would modify it (the idea) by pulling all the keys out of it - with a screwdriver usually. and than put the keys only to the dishwasher, easier to dry, and dont have to wait a week for drying. nice writeup though.
stihl884 years ago
Ive taken hundreds of Mylar keyboards apart

Just be careful if adding and cleaning the Silver traced Mylar sheeting as well, the Silver will likely oxidize as a result of contact with the detergent. Also, the Silver Mylar sheet has two layers semi bonded together with plastic spot welds and i would imagine that it would be quite hard to rid the water from between these two layers.

If it were me, i would certainly remove the mylar from the Keyboard before putting it in the dishwasher, theres no need to put it in their anyway as they are generally quite clean.
jimheh4 years ago
You can get a good set of security bits from Harbor freight for a lot less.
LesB4 years ago
Hey, this looks great. How about just tossing the whole computer in the dishwasher?
Grouchy1 LesB4 years ago
There's a guy in the Chicago suburbs who uses a power washer. Really!
ARJOON LesB4 years ago
don't forget to remove any electronic stuffs or components that will react with water else.................
Grouchy14 years ago
Put it in a box on top of about 1" of dry (uncooked) instant rice. The rice absorbs the moisture and will make the drying go much faster.
sabbott4 years ago
i took an optical mouse apart one time to try to fix something, and was completely unable to stuff the wires back in "exactly the right way", and it ended up being toast anyway. :-(

Re: the glossy worn out look: you can get keyboard stickers which are really awesome. I have a tendency to wear off the letters with my lovely fingernails, hence have a frequent need for stickers. just put "keyboard stickers" into a search engine, you'll get lots of listings.
Geekxboy4 years ago
Where did you get the screw driver set?
I need it!!!!!!
aephix Geekxboy4 years ago
Amazon has them. Here is a link.

AnnaZed aephix4 years ago
Owww, nice but spendy.

What I really want is the "I Void Warranties" T-shirt.
I expect that I could make that though. Awesome!
laxap (author)  AnnaZed4 years ago
AnnaZed laxap4 years ago
Oh, I think I even have a Think Geek catalog around here (or there is always the site). Yes, we are that type of people. [thanks]
Me too!
marymac4 years ago
One of the good things to do regularly is to turn the keyboard on the side and give it a few good taps on a softish place. I have a foam thing on my desktop and tap the short edge against it a few times to shake crumbs and other garbage from it. Often enough junk collects between the keys to make the whole board get very dirty in due time.

My keyboard toolset includes a dry soft-bristle paint brush, about two inches wide, to act as a duster for the keyboard in addition to the above. Another good tool can be a firm piece of cardboard from the back of a pad of paper perhaps. I cut that in smaller pieces and wedge it between the keys to remove any drops or sweep more out from under the keys. As absorbent the cardboard can be, it does pretty well to remove little bits of moisture.

Just remember what has been said already.....be patient about letting the keyboard dry before you try using it or it might be ruined and make things worse for your computer. It might need a few weeks but it is worth the wait.
firefly684 years ago
When I had a desktop I spilled beer or coffee in the keyboard a couple of times. I rinsed it with water, shook out as much as I could, and dried it upside down overnight in the gas oven with pilot light, with the door slightly ajar to allow evaporation. It was completely dry in about 24 hours. Just be sure to tape a note to your oven knob so you don't accidentally roast your keyboard!
Nachimir4 years ago
Nice one. As you say, the letting it dry stage is *really* important. A designer at my previous job did it with his (same model of apple keyboard), and it was fine the first two times, but not the third. Suspect that was the reason.
either that, or he finally dissolved the glue off of something critical.
marymac4 years ago
Keeping the keyboard with a fan blowing on it or using a hair dryer on low might help. In one case I remember adding a little alcohol to a rinse which would help to dry things faster.
majeral4 years ago
WILDRAT, Finish powerball tablet do not have phosphate in them. They clean great. I don't know if I would put mine in a dishwasher. Maybe if I had an old dirty keyboard just to try it .
theshades4 years ago
I don't know much about the construction fo Mac Keyboards but I think you should the extra step of removing the contact film under the keys. The contact pattern is only silkscreened on so damage from doing this once or more will likely result. Let alone denaturing the glue that holds the contact sheet together then water/soap will penatrate the film and thats the end. Good idea though.
Wildrat4 years ago
Good idea, but they have taken phosphate out of detergents now, and if anyone is wondering why in the last several months why their dishes are coming out of the dishwasher with a white ugly crust on them, this is why. They have additives now to keep the mineral incrustation off your dishes, and lemon juice works pretty good. I am just letting you know this in case it happens. If it does re-wash with a couple Tablespoons of pure lemon juice in the dishwasher.
spicy_puppy4 years ago
I have cleaned the same type of mac keyboard without disassebling it AND on the highest heat WITH a lot of detergant. Worked out perfectly, A good thing is to shake out as much water as you can. I dried my keyboard in a sunny window for two days.

But as you probaby know there is no warranty it will work for you.

Good instructable .

We have used the old fashioned bathtub method. You definitely want to STRESS the low temperature setting or expect a mutilated keyboard..
mikedoth4 years ago
Can this remove the glossy stuff that builds up on the keys that makes it shiny and slick? If so i'm doing it.
the glossy stuff is the texture from the keys having been wore down and then your fingers polishing the actual plastic material of the keys. The only way to remove it at this point would be to replace the keys affected or buy a new keyboard.