How To Clean Your Laptop Keyboard Before It Lays Eggs
Updated: December 09,2022
Keyboards are one of the dirtiest objects we come in contact with daily. Food crumbs, pet hair, cigarette ashes, and oil from our skin can all be found on and inside our keyboards. Research has shown that keyboards, on average, hold more bacteria than toilet seats. Yikes. No matter how pedantic and cleanly you generally are, your keyboard is bound to accumulate grime and dirt.
Laptops tend to get even dirtier, which is why you should learn how to clean your laptop keyboard. We constantly move laptops around or eat over them when nested on the couch watching Netflix. They can get dirtier than even the most advanced controllers after an intense FIFA night. Laptop keyboards also tend to be more sensitive than their desktop counterparts, so cleaning them properly and regularly is paramount for their proper functioning.
Whether you’re stuck with sticky keyboard keys, got gunk on your keyboard, or it’s just plain old dirty, the great thing is that you can clean it properly without a specialized keyboard cleaning kit. Follow this step-by-step guide to thoroughly disinfect your laptop keyboard.
Turn Off Your Laptop
Before you even start looking at how to clean a laptop keyboard, you should first completely turn the computer off and plug it out of any power sources. This is a good rule to follow when cleaning electronics of any kind. If moisture gets inside, it could short-circuit the electronics, rendering them useless. With PC keyboards, the worst thing that could happen is you ruining the keyboard itself. With laptops, you stand to potentially brick the whole device.
On top of that, cleaning its keyboard while your laptop is on could lead to you accidentally deleting something or activating unwanted options, as you’ll be cleaning laptop keys and pressing them while scrubbing.
Once the laptop has been properly unplugged and shut down, you can move on to the next step in the laptop keyboard cleaning process.
Shake Out the Crumbs and Debris
The next thing you need to do is shake out all those nasty things like food crumbs and dust stuck between or behind your keyboard keys. Don’t worry, this won’t take any special skills.
First, take your laptop into your hands and slowly turn it upside down. Naturally, you’ll want to keep the laptop open so all those yucky things can fall out. Then, start gently and methodically tapping the bottom of the chassis until the dirt stops falling out. A good idea is to do this above a trash can or a bag you’ll throw out later, so you don’t have to vacuum your fancy gaming desk afterward.
While this is probably the best way to clean a laptop keyboard from crumbs - and the most painless one - it won’t always manage to get all the debris out. In severe cases, the path to a clean keyboard lies in using cleaning slime to pick up all the crumbs still stuck inside.
In case you don’t have cleaning slime on hand, you can use a soft-bristled brush to carefully sweep away debris - just be careful not to push it under the keys. Alternatively, you can also use a vacuum or compressed air to clean out the keyboard from any leftover dust and crumbs. When using a vacuum to clean your keyboard, make sure you’ve set the power to the lowest setting and use the smallest extension possible to reduce damage risks and maximize precision.
Wipe the Keyboard Clean
Now that you’ve gotten all the debris out of the keyboard and came face-to-face with the fact that humans are disgusting, dirty beings, it’s time to clean the surface of your keyboard. The best thing to use here is a lint-free microfiber cloth. Wet the cloth slightly and squeeze out any excess water. Then, carefully wipe the keyboard keys and surrounding surfaces until things look shiny and new.
If you’ve followed every step so far in this “How to Clean Your Laptop Keyboard” tutorial, all the debris from the keyboard should be gone and its surface - including sticky laptop keys - should be fully functional and sparkly.
Of course, you might end up faced with some particularly resistant smudges or sticky surfaces during your cleaning campaign. This problem can be solved using a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Rub the swab on still-dirty surfaces until the stains are gone. You are also free to use alcohol wipes - just make sure they don’t contain bleach. Of course, whether you just used water or combined it with alcohol, make sure to let the keyboard dry before use.
Disinfecting Your Keyboard
We’ve shown you how to clean a laptop keyboard and restore it to its youth, at least visually. However, the process we’ve laid out above cleans dust, crumbs, and smudges, but does not kill the many germs that live in there. Disinfecting your keyboard will kill off most of the germs and reduce the risk of any diseases transmitting between multiple device users. During the pandemic, people became painfully aware of how important it is to disinfect commonly touched surfaces properly.
Disinfection comes after you’ve thoroughly cleaned the keyboard first, as outlined in the steps mentioned above. You’ll just need any traditional disinfecting solution, and there are two ways to go about cleaning the laptop keyboard this way.
First, you can use disinfectant wipes like you’ve used to clean sticky laptop keys. Again, make sure that they don’t contain bleach and that they’re not dripping wet to avoid shorting the electronics. To thoroughly clean the laptop keyboard, use the corner of the wet wipe to reach the spaces between the keys and other small nooks and crannies.
The second method involves using a liquid disinfectant solution in case you don’t have wipes on hand. Do not, in any situation, pour or spray the liquid directly onto your keyboard. This is a quick and easy way to fry your electronics once you fire up the laptop again.
If you’re wondering how to clean your laptop keyboard with a liquid solution without damaging your precious device, don’t worry. Just apply the disinfectant to a clean microfiber cloth first. After pouring or spraying the disinfectant on the cloth and squeezing it dry, wipe the whole keyboard thoroughly.
After disinfecting your keyboard, make sure to leave it out to dry for a while. Alcohol should evaporate quickly, but give it some time before you turn the laptop on, just in case.
Your laptop keyboard should now be squeaky clean and germ-free, at least for a while. Streamers using HD webcams will no longer have to fear xQc and Asmongold’s fate of showing the world just how dirty their gaming setups are.
The Best Way To Clean Keyboard Keys – Remove Them
Sometimes dust particles and other debris will be particularly pesky and stick beneath your keyboard keys. While some brushes and tools might help you remove a portion of that dirt, there’s no better method than removing the laptop keys altogether and cleaning the surface beneath.
This can be a somewhat tricky process and requires you to whip out your laptop’s manual, or find your exact model online to see what the key removal process entails. Before you remove the keys, make sure you take a picture of your keyboard so you can return them to the right place.
If you plan to look into how to clean your laptop keyboard keys, also check whether you have the right tools for prying the keys away from the keyboard. While PC keyboard keys can sometimes be detached safely with your hand or a simple tool, laptop keyboards are far more tricky.
Once the keys are removed, you can apply the same cleaning and disinfecting methods we’ve covered above.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use disinfectant/alcohol wipes that do not contain bleach, lint-free microfiber cloth, vacuums, compressed air, and swabs dipped in alcohol for resistant smudges.
Keyboard cleaning can be done safely by making sure your laptop is turned off and plugged out of power sources. Additionally, make sure you do not use excessively wet wipes or cloth so as not to short-circuit the electronics and let the laptop dry after disinfecting.
Yes, you can use alcohol wipes or rubbing alcohol to clean your computer. Just make sure to let it dry afterward.
If you’re looking into how to clean your laptop keyboard, including beneath the keys, you’ll have to find the key removal instructions for your laptop model online. Additionally, make sure you use the right tools for prying the keys from the keyboard and take a picture of the keyboard so you can put the keys back where they belong afterward.
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With a degree in humanities and a knack for the history of tech, Jovan was always interested in how technology shapes both us as human beings and our social landscapes. When he isn't binging on news and trying to predict the latest tech fads, you may find him trapped within the covers of a generic 80s cyberpunk thriller.