Tutorial – Cleaning your keyboard

There are certain items that we use every single day, under varying circumstances. And yet most people, even the extremely OCD ones either just forget to clean these things or just dont know how to, so these don’t get cleaned.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly the least OCD person I know. In fact, I’m a bit of a slob. Sometimes I think this is why doors were invented, so as to keep other people from seeing your personal mess. Its not that I’m inherently lazy, I just honestly believe there are many more exciting things to be doing rather than cleaning and tidying. Sorry, I digressed.

Back to my point, there are certain things that even I insist on having sterilized fairly often. Keyboards, cell phones, steering wheel of my car, keys, door handles, etc. Honestly I think some of these items are probably the most bacteria ridden, gross and nasty items out there.
Now you are thinking, “Really? This lady has officially gone off her mind”, ok so the latter part of that is true, I am completely and utterly crazy. Sorry, digressing again.
Let’s take the example of your PC keyboard since you don’t believe me. Think of this scenario for a bit and see if you too are like this (coz I often am):

Monday morning you wake up and go to your home office pc in your pjs with a cup of coffee and start browsing social media, you accidentally spill a few drops of coffee on your keyboard but quickly mop it up with a tissue, and the keys seem ok, so you just carry on. Flash forward to Tuesday afternoon, you’ve been emailing clients and building websites (or whatever the heck you do on your PC) all day, and the kids get home from school. (Disclaimer – I don’t have kids) So up you jump and make them their snack, and get their homework started and little Jonny says “Mom, I need to Google ____ (insert random subject here) for school tomorrow.” So you let your gorgeous son with his sticky PB&J sandwich sit at your pc for an hour to do research while you make supper, he drops a few crumbs on the keyboard, but its not too serious as he blows them off. One goes down that little gap behind the keys, but hey whatever. Wednesday evening just as you are cutting up onions to fry for supper, you hear the distinctive pong of Skype, with the knife still in your hand you rush through the house to the pc and accept the call from your brother who is in India for a week on work and chat for ten minutes. But you didn’t touch your keyboard? Wrong! Your knife dripped bits of onion juice on it while you were having a  chat with your brother, its clear and nearly dry so you don’t even notice. Thursday you come home from doing your weekly grocery shopping to find Fluffy your cat sleeping on the keyboard. The PC was off, so no awkward kljsdfjgh;dfhad;fkghisdfksghvb emails got sent to clients, so no big deal. Friday afternoon, you were outside playing with Rufus your dog and got a call from a client asking you to send through an email urgently with certain details so they can ensure you have payment by Monday, so you immediately run inside and type out the email, not even worrying to wash hands first. Saturday morning you decide to catch up on Facebook and eat your croissant at the PC, you type a few words on a couple of friends’ posts and log out.
This goes on for weeks, or even months and you don’t even realise there’s a whole eco system of germs growing on your keyboard. This is over and above the general household dust that piles up on everything and should theoretically (see what I did there?) be cleaned up weekly. You may start to notice the discolouration of your keyboard, or you might not – especially if you have a black keyboard.

But now that you’ve thought of it, I bet you want to cut off your fingers, or you’ve thrown up in your mouth a little bit? Hey, you were eating a donut while reading this, right? Since I’ve made you lose your appetite, can I finish that donut for you please?


But what are you now going to do about it? I mean unless you’re a flipping billionaire its not like you can just go buy a brand new, clean keyboard every month. Even if you are a billionaire, chances are you wouldn’t want to waste money on a still perfectly good working keyboard, wait if you’re a billionaire, why do you not just have a PA following you around typing out everything on their iPad for you? Actually if you are a billionaire you probably are not reading this, your PA is reading this aloud to you while you are lying on the sun bed sipping martinis, aren’t you? And in fact none of this applies to you. So stop listening to your PA, pick up the phone, call me and invite me over to join you for the thai massages you’re about to have and virgin martinis already!

I’m getting distracted again.



Where was I? Oh yeah, HOW TO CLEAN YOUR PC KEYBOARD, or something like that. And I bet you started out reading this blog post thinking to yourself “Oh yay, another boring How-To step by step tutorial.” Chances are if you were really looking for a tutorial, you probably would have YouTube’d it by now anyway.

But lets get down to business:


  • A thin butter knife (no, NOT a steak knife, those things are actually for cutting. We dont want to cut. Just use the knife you normally use for spreading PB&J. Remember to clean it first)
  • A bowl of warm water with dish washing soap (no not the powder you throw in the dishwasher, the green liquid. See up there on the shelf, the thing your mom always moans about while she’s using it? Yeah that stuff.)
  • An old toothbrush (No, not your annoying little brother’s toothbrush! The one you stopped using 2 months ago when you got an electric toothbrush to replace it. )
  • 2 drying cloths of sorts (yes, you may use your big sister’s facecloth for this, its not too serious) or a dish towel
  • A camera – I’ll explain soon
  • Time (Not that delish herb you throw into the beef stroganoff- now I’m hungry.) Because this could take a while.
  • Some cotton ear buds or cotton swabs
  • Rubbing/Surgical alcohol – OPTIONAL (And no, its not so as to get so drunk that you cant remember how to put it back together.)


STEP 1 – Unplug your dirty keyboard (no, no, get your mind out the gutter!) from your PC. This cannot be stressed enough, DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS WHILE IT IS PLUGGED IN!!!!


Before – The dirty keyboard

STEP 2 – You know that camera you didn’t bother to fetch when putting together your items you’ll need, well go fetch it! Or use your cell phone camera. Take a photo that just fits your whole keyboard into the picture, but try and get it clear enough to see each key if you zoom up. You will need this to put your keyboard back together later. Plus you’ll probably want to show off to all your friends what a big difference the cleaning made with Before & After shots. Can we make this a thing, a #BeforeNAfterCleaning hashtag?

(30 minutes later after searching on all levels of social media for my new hashtag)


STEP 3 – Ok, so take the butter knife and carefully slide it between a single key and the main casing. Now gently lever the key up until it clicks/pops up and loose. Look at the underside of the key, each keyboard uses slightly different forms of keeping the keys in place. Figure out which method your keyboard uses, as this information is going to be useful for when you put it back together. Now remove all the keys. NOTE: long keys, like the space bar, enter button and shift key normally have a little metal rod that helps to keep them from wobbling. Be careful when removing these keys, and be sure to take note how they fit, otherwise you won’t be able to put them back later.

Losing control, and everything else too

STEP 4 – Now all the keys are out and soaking in the water and you have a casing shell that needs to stay dry. But you’ve also discovered an ecosystem living under the keys you removed. Dust, car hairs, dead insects (hopefully no live ones), cockroach poops, bits of food debris, these are all some of the things I have found in my keyboards (starts hacking off own fingers). So, take it outside with that toothbrush (you kept it dry, didn’t you? No? OK find a soft paint brush then- but keep it dry!) and turn it upside down and dust it out.

STEP 5 – Now with a still dry cloth, or maybe slightly damp, wipe away the gunk on the casing. And use some of those ear buds to get the icky stuff out of the corners that you missed with the brush. For those spots of grime that don’t want to go, use a little of the surgical spirits to soften and get rid of the grime.

STEP 6 – Put one of your drying cloths out on a tray/table surface as your “drying rack”. Now using the toothbrush (now you can wet it), scrub the muck off of each key, on all sides of the key. As you are finished with a key, put it onto the drying cloth.

Alphabet Soup

STEP 7 – Using your second drying cloth, individually dry each key, make sure it’s dry. Blow it (don’t hyperventilate now) if you have to.

STEP 8 – Once every single key is dry, look at that photo you took at the start of your project (Wait, what do you mean you you thought you didn’t need to take a photo. Well then dude, you’re on your own from here. Nothing more I can do for you. For the rest who did take a photo, continue reading….) and gently clip each piece into place. It’s at the fun stage now of being like a jigsaw puzzle. Remember that you need to take extra care with the long keys, the space bar and such, to attach the metal rod in the right place. If you battle with that, your fingers may be too big, use an ear bud to hold the metal in place as you lower the key. As each key is put into place press it to ensure it moves freely like it ought to, and jumps up again. If it does not, then use the knife, clip it out, and retry. Or look at your photo, maybe you put it in the wrong place.

STEP 9 – Take an after photo to show everyone and share both photos with us on social media and the hashtag #BeforeNAfterCleaning (wink wink)

After – Clean and ready to plug in and use again

DISCLAIMER aka WARNING – This may or may not work for laptops, I’ve never tried to do a laptop keyboard cleaning. Keyboards DO have a lifespan and may wear out, this may happen around the same time you clean your keyboard. If you wet electronics, they very likely will not work again, so don’t wet anything with wires. Finally, don’t blame me or hold me accountable if anything goes wrong.

That said, it has worked successfully for me every time I tried it. Which is all of 3 times thus far.

Have fun!


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