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page title icon How to Clean a Laptop Keyboard

| Updated on August 1, 2017

The whole point of a laptop is the convenience of using it in just about any place and environment known to man.

  • If you need it at a bus stop, pull it out and work on whatever you have to while waiting for the bus.
  • If you’re in the middle of a forest on some camping trip, whip out your handy laptop and watch a movie or two.
  • If you’re in the centre of a construction site and your boss asks you to grab some data from your laptop, grab it from your bag and BAM, you’ll have that data delivered to your boss almost instantly.
  • Convenience and flexibility is what makes a laptop so appealing to everyone.

    Problem is, with all these uses of laptops being out and about (not to mention, the messy eaters at Starbucks dropping food all over their laptops while they’re writing their novels), you can only begin to imagine just how dirty a laptop can get.

    In particular, keyboards on laptops are highly susceptible collecting excessive dirt, dust, and rubbish. If you’ve ever tried to press a key on a sticky keyboard, you’ll know that sensation of frustration and disgust at the same time. Now imagine that sensation applied to a laptop’s keyboard where the keyboard is fixed into the laptop. Nasty, right?

    Lucky for you, we’ve come up with this awesome guide on how to clean your laptop’s keyboard efficiently and with ease.

    Preliminary Requirements

    Like all things, safety does come first. So when planning to clean your laptop’s keyboard, you have to make sure that your laptop is powered off and unplugged from the main socket. This will avoid any shocking surprises (yes, pun intended).

    Remove any additional gadgets attached to your laptop such as the mouse, any cables that can be removed, flash drives, discs and CDs, and whatever else you can that isn’t part of the main hardware of the laptop.

    How you clean your laptop is entirely up to you. In the sense that, if you’re feeling like the ambitious hard worker who has the time to put effort into doing a thorough clean, you’ll be able to do more of these steps than if you were feeling slack. Other factors include how hardy your laptop is as well as how steady the keyboard keys are.

    In some laptops, popping out the keys of the laptop’s keyboard is as easy as putting them back. In others, the keys are fixed securely in place which will require more brain surgery to take them off. If, however, you’re not feeling confident of your abilities to put the keys back onto the keyboard, it’s best to not take them off.

    To find out if your laptop in fact does accommodate the popping out of keys from its keyboard, have a look at the owner’s manual which you can easily find available on your laptop brand’s website.

    Cleaning with Your Laptop’s Keys Attached

    If you have decided to taking the easy road and left the keys intact, using a can of compressed air to blow out the dust can help do a good job of cleaning. It is important to note that compressed air isn’t just filled with air and often contains toxic chemicals as well. Care should be practiced when handling the can ensuring the direction of output is away from your eyes.

    To make gravity work in your favor, you can hold the laptop upside down while using the compressed air to push out any unwanted residue stuck between the keys of your laptop.

    Cleaning with Your Laptop’s Keys Removed

    pulling off laptop keyboard keys to clean

    To remove your laptop’s keys efficiently, use a sharp edged object such as a key or a butter knife to pop them off. Make sure you keep the loose keys in a safe place so as not to lose them.

    We strongly recommend leaving the space bar key intact along with the other larger keys as they are known for being difficult when trying to put the pieces back together.

    Once you’ve removed all the keys that you’d like removed, place them all in a small bowl. Add a few drops of hand washing liquid (Dettol works really well here especially with the benefit of being apparently a 99% bacteria killer) in the bowl. Use your hands to scrub the keys gently and add some water leaving them to soak.

    Cleaning the Base of the Keyboard

    cleaning laptop keyboard with cloth

    Unlike an external keyboard, laptop keyboards come with a bunch more nooks and crannies that can be a challenge to clean.

    The best way to clean out nooks and crannies would be to use a can of compressed air to do the job. It is crucial not to place the can output close to the surface of your laptop as the air coming out is pressurized and this pressure may cause damage to your laptop.

    For the remainder of the keyboard, using a microfibre cloth will help clean it out without leaving any fluff behind. Alternatives to a microfibre cloth include a handkerchief, an old t-shirt, or even some folded up newspaper (which also makes a great tool for cleaning glass and windows).

    Before jumping into cleaning with a dry cloth, you’ll need to dampen it first with some lukewarm water mixed together with isopropyl alcohol. The purpose for the latter is to help disinfect the keyboard. Try to do a good job of wiping the keyboard clean since it’ll help make your laptop easier to maintain in future.

    Leave Your Keyboard to Dry

    Once you have finished cleaning the keyboard with a damp cloth, leave your laptop out to dry. Do not close the lid as you want to maximize the airflow for a thorough dry job.

    If you removed the laptop’s keys, place them out to try on a table or alternatively, wipe them dry with a dry cloth.

    Do not switch on your laptop or plug it into a power socket until you are certain that your laptop has dried out completely. Any remaining water particles, no matter how little, bears the risk of damaging your laptop.

    Once your laptop is dry, you can pop the keys back into the keyboard if you did take them off.

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