After hearing this tale of a drowned keyboard, I thought back to my many colorful coworkers’ not entirely efficient (or effective) schemes for dealing with finger grime and other keyboard cooties. I knew one girl who went through canned air as though it were soda pop. I knew another woman who swabbed daintily at the edges of her keys with rubbing alcohol. Although these methods dealt with some of the dirt, they couldn’t deal with all of it.
So, as a public service announcement, and since I’ve nothing better to post about, I’ll answer the question nobody seems to ask but everybody needs to know: how do I clean my keyboard?
The first step is to gently pry off your key caps with a butter knife, flat-blade screwdriver, or similar implement. Give your tool a twist and your key caps should pop right out of their holders with no harm done.
Be careful with the larger keys, such as shift, enter, and the spacebar. Usually, large keys will have a bracing wire clipped to the keycap that fits beneath a set of tabs on the keyboard. It is all too easy to break the tabs on the keyboard or the clips on the key. Doing so won’t necessarily render your keyboard inoperative, but it might just make these keys a wee bit wobbly.
Throw all the keys into a bucket, bowl, or other such vessel, along with a generous helping of the detergent of your choice. Add enough warm water to submerge the caps, then stir briskly for a few minutes, or until the keys look clean or the water looks dirty. Then rinse. Repeat as needed.
Pat the keys dry in a towel, then set them aside to dry completely. Meanwhile, using a nice stiff brush, sweep away whatever crumbs or other debris may be left on the keyboard. Then, use a rag dampened slightly with all-purpose cleaner to remove any remaining dirt. Avoid getting any solution into the key holes, as this can corrode or short the contacts therein. And then last, but not least, reattach your keycaps.