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How to clean your keyboard: Get rid of dust, sweat and fingerprints

Scared of breaking off your spacebar? Here’s how to clean your keyboard the right way

We tend not to think about it, but we put our computer keyboards through the ringer. Our hands carry an awful lot of bacteria and produce a lot of sweat. When you consider how much time we spend tapping away at the keys, that’s a huge amount of dirt and grime – especially if you snack at your desk.

On top of that, sitting so close to a lot of technology can make your keyboard a dust magnet. Our keyboards may be designed to take millions of key presses before showing any signs of wear and tear, but it’s a good idea to keep them as clean as possible to get the longest life out of them. If you have a fancy mechanical keyboard or one with RGB lighting, you’ll want to keep it in the best condition you can to support function and aesthetics.

Unfortunately, keyboards can seem like a pretty daunting cleaning task. There are so many grooves, individual buttons and potential damages if you go about things wrong. So how should you clean your keyboard? We’ve put together a handy guide that will walk you through the process. Before we get started, though, let’s point you toward the best products for the job.

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The best products for cleaning your keyboard

1. Q-Connect HFC Compressed Air Can: The best way to dust a keyboard

Price: £2 | Buy now from Euroffice

Compressed air cans can be a true godsend when it comes to cleaning technology. Although some keyboards will allow you to remove the keys without damaging them, it can still be tough to get the dust and loose particles out of all the mechanical parts of the board. Compressed air cans come with long, narrow nozzles that allow you to target a small crevice, squeeze down on the button and blow away the mess.

This compressed air can from Q-Connect will more than do the trick. Q-Connect has an impressive line-up of technology cleaning products that are simple and safe to use. This is a versatile option that comes with a removable extension tube, so you can swap between concentrated blasts of air and wider sprays.

Buy now from Euroffice

2. AF Tech Wipes: Best surface wipes for keyboards

Price: £3 | Buy now from Ebuyer

One stress point with using antibacterial wipes and other cleaning supplies is that you never know if they’re technology-friendly. What if they might cause your beloved piece of tech to spontaneously combust in front of your very eyes? AF cleaning products put those worries to bed.

For a shorter, perhaps more regular clean, surface wipes like these can be your best friend. If you’re trying to clean your laptop keyboard, they’re a simple way to go about things. Simply take a wipe, give the keyboard a once-over, and it’ll be as good as sparkling. In this very reasonably priced packet, you get 25 wipes that are safe to use on all sorts of technology like phones, laptops and keyboards. They’re also free of alcohol and are non-flammable, so there won’t be any spontaneous combusting.

Buy now from Ebuyer

3. ColorCoral Keyboard Cleaning Gel: A fun (and sticky) way of tackling keyboard dust

Price: £7 | Buy now from Amazon

Have you ever seen the movie Flubber? What if we told you there was a way to relive it without the comedic chaos of a Robin Williams film? And what if we told you that in this version, Flubber has a zesty-fresh lemon smell and will help you clean your keyboard? If you’re on board, ColorCoral is your new best friend.

One of the most popular methods of tackling dust in the last few years has been with a gel cleaner. A small dollop of dusting slime will do a magnificent job of picking up loose crumbs and hair. All you have to do is put it on top of the keys, then slowly lift it off. You can even roll it over the keys, see how much it’ll spread and generally create your own cleaning fun.

Buy now from Amazon

4. Savita Keycap Puller: Best way to easily remove keys

Price: £7 | Buy now from Amazon

Removing keys from a mechanical keyboard can be a little tricky, not to mention a little stressful. There are definitely ways to remove keys without any tools, but if you’d like some peace of mind that you aren’t breaking anything, a keycap puller can be really useful.

This handy little toolkit allows you to easily grip each key and ensure you’re detaching in the safest way. This little set from Savita even comes with small dust brushes, which could come in handy when cleaning the surface of your keyboard.

Buy now from Amazon

How to clean your keyboard: Step by step

Our guide may have to vary depending on what type of keyboard you’re using. Some have keys that come off, allowing you to perform a deeper clean, while others don’t. For a guide on how to remove and clean individual, removable keys, read on down below.

Step 1: First off, disconnect your keyboard, or turn off your laptop before cleaning. After all, it’d be pretty ironic if you accidentally turned sticky keys on while you were dusting.

Step 2: We’d recommend that if you have compressed air, to use it before any other tool you may have. Compressed air as a starter will help to blow away the worst of the inner dust and loose particles from underneath the keys first, or at least direct them to an area you’ll be able to wipe clean after.

Step 3: Next, give the surface of your board a good wipe. This can be done with your favourite gel cleaner, or with a tech-safe wipe.

This step should include all the buttons and the frame of the board itself. Try not to apply too much pressure and try not to wipe from side to side, as this could lead to you knocking off or potentially damaging one of your key’s mechanisms. Wiping from the top of your keyboard down is a better tactic, as this will work with the shape of your keys, and the angle your board naturally sits at.

Step 4: Leave the keyboard to dry if you’ve used a particularly wet-wipe before using it again.

How to clean keyboards with removable keys

For those with detachable keys, and mechanical keyboards, the process is a little different. For starters, it’s a good idea to take a picture of your keyboard before you start taking it apart, because you’ll then have an exact frame of reference to work off of when putting the keys back on.

Step 1: Use your keycap puller or another safe method to remove each of your keys. Once they’re off, grab yourself a bowl, some washing up liquid, and some warm water. Combine them in the bowl, and make sure the water isn’t boiling – you don’t want the plastic on your keys to melt. Leave the keys to soak for around 15 minutes or so.

Step 2: While the keys are having a nice bubble bath, you can get to work on the board itself. Grab your favourite compressed air can, tech-safe wipe, or even a soft bristle brush, and start getting rid of whatever mess you find.

Once the majority of it is gone, use compressed air or even a slightly damp cotton bud to do some fine cleaning of any grooves that still have dust in them.

Step 3: When your keys have finished their swim, it’s time to dry them. If you’ve been generous with your fairy liquid, you can ensure the keys won’t be too soapy by running the bowl under a cold tap until all the washing up liquid has drained out. Now grab yourself a towel for your keys to sit on while they dry, and a smaller rag or cloth to wipe away any left-over residue.

Step 4: Wipe each key clean and try to get out as much moisture as possible before leaving the keys to sit and air dry for another 15 minutes or so.

Step 5: Once the water has evaporated, go ahead and start reassembling your keyboard. It should look as good as it did out of the box.

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