Cleaning your keyboard can be as simple as flipping it over and giving it a light shake. But if your keyboard has built-up gunk or needs disinfecting, you’ll have to take extra steps.
Use one of the methods below to clean your keyboard without removing the keys.
How to Clean a Keyboard
Turn the Keyboard Over and Shake It
If crumbs and dust fill the gaps between your keys, you can shake most out. Since this is the easiest method and works in many scenarios, it’s the first step you should take.
- Start by unplugging or powering off the keyboard.
- Turn the keyboard upside and give it a light shake
- Move the keyboard to different angles and give gentle pats as you do so
If there is still noticeable dirt or jammed keys, try another method listed below.
Blow Out the Dirt with Pressurized Air
A can of pressurized air, or air duster, can dislodge gunk and debris stuck in your keys. To use it, attach the straw to the nozzle. Then, hold the can an inch away from the keys and start blowing at a slight angle.
(For a laptop, power it off, hold it at a 75-degree angle, and blow the keys using a continuous motion.)
Don’t hold the nozzle too close to the keyboard, or condensation will form under your keys. If you have a mechanical keyboard with detachable keys, you can remove them to blow away more dirt.
Use Cleaning Gel
Keyboard cleaning gel looks and feels similar to slime. Because of its texture, it’s ideal for pulling dirt that’s settled around keys.
To use the gel, unplug or power off your keyboard. Then press the gel into the keys. When you pull it off, it will remove dust and dirt. Repeat until you’ve cleaned the entire unit.
Swab Around the Keys with a Q-Tip
Q-tips are a great size for cleaning between keys. You can swipe around each key to pick up dust.
If your keys have buildup on or between them, lightly dampen the q-tip and use it to rub off the gunk.
Dislodge Dirt with a Cleaning Brush
Keyboard cleaning brushes have soft nylon bristles that can make their way between keys, displacing dirt. If your keyboard is in bad condition, you can buy a brush with standard nylon bristles, a hair dislodger, and a silicone tip to reach otherwise inaccessible areas.
Tip: If you’re in a pinch and don’t have time to purchase a special kit, use a toothbrush. A toothbrush is just as effective for brushing away dirt. Make sure your keyboard is unplugged or powered down before brushing it clean.
How to Clean Grime Out of Your Keyboard
If you’ve been cleaning your keyboard but are still dealing with grime build-up, here’s how to tackle it.
- Use a toothpick around the keys. Carefully run a toothpick around the keys, pulling the grime out.
- Use a damp microfiber cloth. Dampen a microfiber cloth with water. (It should feel almost dry. You don’t want liquid to seep under the keys.) Then, run the microfiber cloth over the gunk. The little fibers will help break up any stuck-on grime.
How to Disinfect a Keyboard
If you’re worried that your keyboard is harboring germs or bacteria, you can disinfect it. It’s vital to avoid aerosol sprays or other products that require saturation.
To disinfect your keyboard, shake it or use a brush to remove crumbs and dust. With your keyboard unplugged or powered off, wipe the keys with a disinfecting wipe. Then wipe them dry with a fresh microfiber towel.