Instructables

Clean your Keyboard in the Dishwasher

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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)
 
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Step 1: 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.

Step 2: Disassemble Keyboard

You may want to take pictures of the different steps, in order to ease the future reassembly.

(For the Mac keyboard, see step 7, and look at its pictures in reverse order)

Step 3: Prewash

To go green and avoid using the dishwasher for the one keyboard alone, I loaded it with dirty dishes along with the keyboard, and pre-washed using the rinse program.
  • Cold
  • Rinse program (7 minutes)
  • No detergent
As a result, the keyboard is less dirty, but not yet totally clean.

Step 4: Wash

Picture of Wash
keyboard11.jpg
keyboard14.jpg
Then I washed using a little detergent.
  • Low temperature (40°C / 100°F)
  • Economy option (38 minutes)
  • Use a small quantity of detergent
SlickSqueegie10 months ago
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...
GraphixS63 months ago
I need that shirt.
derykl4 months 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.
zomfibame1 year 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.
techno19992 years ago
Fantastic!
sunshiine2 years ago
This is another one of my favorite post from you. Super job!
Sunshiine
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)  sherrycayheyhey2 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! ;-)
lesizz2 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.
gristlehead2 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. :)
keitha512 years ago
Hmm, think I am gonna clean the keyboard the old fashioned way.
gregdoom2 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 gregdoom2 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 thingy2 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!!!
:-O)
LMAO!
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 thingy2 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)  falcon50522 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 gregdoom2 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 gregdoom2 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.
lesizz2 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.
blodefood2 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.
flyingpuppy2 years ago
NEVER would have thought of that. Very ingenious.
warranty voiding kit, awesome. i just have a 3 year old for that...
karrro2 years ago
laxab is not responsible for the keyboard to get bent, broken, or detective problems
Dr. dB2 years ago
...could also enhance the fan idea by using it to re-direct the outflow of a dehumidifier onto the keyboard...
firefly682 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 StuNutt2 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.
drafael2 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)  drafael2 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
nygma2 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!
Foxtrot702 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)  Foxtrot702 years ago
Thanks for the information. How did you dispose of the alcohol?
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