How to thoroughly clean your keyboard (without breaking anything)

How to thoroughly clean your keyboard (without breaking anything)

Most of us don’t take good care of our keyboards. We eat over them, we spill things onto them, and the worst part of it all—we never clean them. A keyboard remains a sticky, dirty, and gross mess until one of the keys stops working or someone nearby comments on how nasty it is.

Fortunately, this cleaning process is not actually that hard to do. Think of it like a thorough dental cleaning, but for your computer. So stop being that person with the messy keyboard. Take charge of your life, and start with a clean keyboard. Here’s how.

Shut down your machine

It’s always best practice to disconnect your keyboard before you start the disinfecting process. Nobody wants liquid cleaning products near your hard drive when the computer is on. If you have a laptop, that means turning the entire machine off. If you’ve got a desktop computer, you can just disconnect the keyboard from the computer.

Shake it out

With a good grip, carefully turn your laptop or keyboard completely upside down. Stand over a garbage can and gently shake your device so that any dried up crumbs or pieces of food will fall out, thanks to the handy force of gravity. This debris removal is an important first step because it gets the big, bulky stuff out so they won’t get in the way of your more precise scrubbing action later on.

Compressed air to the rescue

Just like any piece of furniture that sits in one place for a long time, the spaces in between your keyboard are going to gather dust. These particles, combined with any miniscule food crumbs, are nearly impossible to remove with gentle shaking alone. That’s where compressed air comes in. Compressed air, which is exactly what its name implies, comes in a can and can be purchased at any office supply store, super store, and even on Amazon. These cans are fairly cheap. And what makes them most amazing and useful is the fact that they are like a power cleaner for your keyboard. They can get out the dust in that random corner of your keyboard that you didn’t even know you had.

When using compressed air, Apple recommends tilting your keyboard at a 75 degree angle so that it’s nearly vertical, but not quite. Spray the compressed air into the keyboard and rotate the keyboard or laptop 90 degrees four times so that you reach as many areas of the device board from as many angles as possible.

Scrubbing time

How to thoroughly clean your keyboard (without breaking anything)

How not to treat your keyboard

Now that you’ve gotten all the dust and debris out, you can focus on those grimy, perhaps slimy, keys. Yes, it’s that time. For this process, you’ll need a cotton swab, some Q-tips (they’re best used for cleaning, not sticking in your ears), and some basic isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol. All of this can be purchased at most pharmacies and grocery stores.

Dab a small amount of alcohol onto the cotton ball and carefully clean each key. Then, for inter-key cleaning, switch to the Q-tip with a bit of alcohol. The small size of the Q-tip helps to ensure the alcohol only goes onto the keyboard surface, and not inside. Just be careful not to put too much alcohol onto the Q-tip.

From experience, for extra scummy keys, you are going to need to scrub pretty hard. You may even have to go back to some keys for a second scrub.

The alcohol will likely get rid of most bacteria and germs that gather on your keyboard. But if you want to be extra sure, then you can finish with a multi-purpose cleaning wipe as well. Alcohol, because of its low boiling point, evaporates very quickly, which is another reason it’s so useful for cleaning a keyboard. The area is dry in a few seconds.

Key removal

Usually the combination of shaking, spraying, and scrubbing is good enough. But if your keys are sticking or you’re convinced there’s still some dirt under the keypads, you can sometimes remove them. This technique depends on the type of keyboard you have and how it was put together. It’s helpful to have a toolkit like this one if you are going to attempt to remove them.

Repeat often

Frequency is key. Just like brushing and flossing your teeth, the more often you clean your keyboard, the less likely it is that dirt and scum will have a chance to build up. While once a day is probably excessive, once a week is very easily doable.

The bacteria is probably not that bad—for you at least

Even if you never clean your keyboard, the bacteria that build up are probably normal, friendly bacteria, the same kind that gather on your phone and other items you touch every single day. And you likely won’t get any new diseases from your own keyboard. But an unclean keyboard is a really easy way to spread disease-causing bacteria, especially if you are sick and other people are using the device as well. So best practice is probably to give a good clean once a week.

How to thoroughly clean your keyboard (without breaking anything)

is the Science Editor at Popular Science. She has a particular interest in brain science, the microbiome, and human physiology. In addition to Popular Science, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Scientific American, and Scholastic’s Science World and Super Science magazines, among others. She has a bachelor’s degree in neurobiology from the University of California, Davis and a master’s in science journalism from New York University’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program. Contact the author here.

How to thoroughly clean your keyboard (without breaking anything)

Late-night snacks and caffeine-powered drinks are often our closest companions while we’re typing away at our computers: They fuel the ideas and thoughts that we input one keystroke at a time.

But if you don’t stop to examine your keyboard every once in a while, you might miss the fact that it has become covered with crumbs, grease, and sticky soda stains (not to mention a coating of dust). And that’s not all: A recent study showed that some sample keyboards had more bacteria and filth than a toilet seat!

When it’s time to sanitize your keyboard and evict that nasty grime and bacteria, don’t fret—you can remove all of it effectively in just a few steps.

Remove Loose Debris

  1. Shut down your computer. If you’re using a wired desktop keyboard, unplug it.
  2. Tilt the keyboard upside down and shake it to remove any loose debris. If you have a can of compressed air, you can spray it in between the keys as well.

Clean the Keys

  1. Dip a cotton swab into some gentle isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and brush it in the area surrounding each key. You may need to use multiple swabs, depending on the amount of dirt. If you’re unsure of the alcohol’s strength, try it on a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure that it doesn’t cause discoloration or remove the lettering on the keys.
  2. Dip a cloth or towelette into the isopropyl alcohol, and brush it along the tops of all the keys and surfaces, taking care to scrub heavily used areas (such as the Enter key and spacebar) to remove buildup. For particularly dirty spots, you can use a toothpick.
  3. Use a dry, lint-free cloth to remove dust and polish the keyboard.
  4. If you’re using a wired desktop keyboard, plug it back in.

With such periodic cleaning, your keyboard will stay relatively germ-free and appear brand-new. But if your keyboard looks more like a hazardous-waste zone, you can do a more thorough industrial-strength cleaning.

Remove and Clean the Keys

  1. Most desktop keyboard letter keys are designed to allow you to remove them with a blunt tool such as a butter knife or flathead screwdriver. Simply place the tool under a corner of a key, and pry it off. If you’re unsure of your particular model, or if you are using a laptop, consult your device’s manufacturer to learn whether key removal is supported, so that you avoid damaging your keyboard.
  2. Once you’ve removed the letter keys, you can wash them individually with water and soap, or alcohol, to remove dirt.
  3. After washing, dry the keys, and then place them on a towel to continue drying.

Clean the Keyboard Trenches

  1. With most of the keys removed, you should have better access to the area underneath. Thoroughly blow out this area with compressed air, or even a gentle vacuum.
  2. Dip a cloth or towelette into isopropyl alcohol, and wipe it along the inner surfaces.

Rebuild the Keyboard

  1. As soon as the keys are totally dry, pop them back into place. Each key should snap back on with a small amount of pressure. If you forget where each key goes, consult a keyboard map.
  2. Give everything one last wipe with a dry, lint-free cloth.
  3. If you’re using a wired desktop keyboard, plug it back in.

Afterward, be sure to turn on your computer and test your pristine keys—but preferably without a snack in hand (at least for a little while).

How to thoroughly clean your keyboard (without breaking anything)

If you use your computer often, then your keyboard is likely one of the dirtiest spots in your home.

It isn’t through any fault of your own — anything you touch often will naturally build up residue over time. And although keyboards are built to withstand constant use, enough dirt and grime can be harmful to the keys and sensors.

The thought of cleaning your electronics can be anxiety inducing. Luckily, you aren’t the first person to clean your keyboard, and you won’t be the last. There are plenty of easy ways to clean your keyboard, no matter what type you have.

Here’s how to clean your keyboard, and free your keys from dust, dirt, and grime.

How to clean your external keyboard

An external keyboard is one that plugs into the computer with a wire or cable, and isn’t built-in.

Before you get started, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swabs
  • A clean microfiber cloth (or any lint-free cloth)

You might also want to invest in a can of compressed air, which is great for blowing away dust in hard-to-reach areas, and a toothpick, which can scrape up embedded dirt.

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, here’s what to do.

1. Unplug your keyboard.

2. Turn the keyboard upside down to let any loose debris fall out naturally. If you have a can of compressed air, use it to blow loose any additional debris.

3. Dampen a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol and use it to clean around the keys. The cotton swab should be wet, but not dripping. Dispose of the swab once it’s picked up enough dirt. You may need more than one swab to cover your entire keyboard.

4. If you have a toothpick and see any particularly stubborn debris, use it to carefully remove that debris now.

5. Apply rubbing alcohol to a cloth or towelette — again, damp but not dripping — and use it to clean the tops of the keyboard keys, as well as the surrounding areas.

6. Use the dry lint-free cloth to remove the last of the dust, and polish your keyboard.

Many external keyboards will also let you remove individual keys, which is great for cleaning the spaces underneath the keys. This will also let you give each key a more thorough cleaning.

Check the manual for your specific keyboard to see if the keys are removable, and how to remove and replace them if they are.

After you’ve cleaned the keyboard, make sure to let it dry out before plugging it back in and using it.

How to clean your laptop keyboard

A laptop keyboard is, fittingly, the keyboard that’s built into your laptop or netbook.

Here are the supplies you’ll want to have at your disposal:

  • Clear tape (low-adhesive is best) or cleaning slime
  • Disinfecting wipes

Again, a can of compressed air is optional here, but can be useful if you have it.

Once you have your preferred cleaners on hand, here’s what to do:

1. Turn off your laptop and disconnect it from any power sources (you may also wish to take out the battery, if possible).

2. Flip your laptop upside down to let any loose debris fall naturally out of your keyboard. If you have a compressed air can, use it to blow loose any additional debris now.

3. If you’re using clear tape, use the sticky side to collect additional debris — it’s also a good idea to stick the tape under the keys and maneuver it around for a more in-depth clean. Or, if you chose the cleaning slime, repeatedly press it into the spaces between keys and lift, picking up grime as you go.

4. Use the disinfecting wipes to clean the tops of the keyboard keys, using the light pressure of your palm. Remember, the goal is not to soak your keyboard with the disinfectant, but rather to give it a quick once-over, so you may want to squeeze the wipes out beforehand to reduce moisture.

5. Use a dry cloth or towelette to remove the last of the dust and give your keyboard a polish.

Again, make sure to let the keyboard completely dry out before using your laptop again.

An additional, and optional, last step would be to fit a silicone cover over your keyboard to help protect it from dirt and debris in the future. This can also protect it from liquid spills.

Follow our tips to rescue your keyboard from crumbs, spills, dust, and more.

As much as we love our high-end keyboards here at PC Gamer, there’s no denying that after a few months or years of use, they often aren’t as nice to game and type on any more. Looking between the keys of our favorite keyboard can be a little like digging around down the side of your sofa cushions—you never know what you’ll find.

But it needn’t be that way. With a little occasional maintenance, you can have your mechanical or membrane board looking and functioning as good as new—even if you manage to spill something terrible on it. If you’ve spent good money on the best gaming keyboard you can afford. the least you can do is give it some TLC.

Dirt, dust, and debris

PC Gamer is going back to the basics with a series of guides, how-tos, and deep dives into PC gaming’s core concepts that we’re calling The Complete Guide to PC Gaming. There’s much more to come, and it’s all being made possible by Razer, which stepped up to support this months-long project. Thanks, Razer!

The most common detritus that you’re likely to find hiding between the various keys of your keyboard is general dirt. That can be anything from dust to dog hairs but all of it can be removed fairly easily.

  • If your keyboard is wired, unplug it, but otherwise grab your keyboard and take it somewhere you don’t mind getting dirty, such as a room with a laminate floor, or even outside.
  • Turn the keyboard upside down and give it a good shake.

If you want to really give between those keys a thorough cleaning, a blast from a can of compressed air can do wonders. Just make sure to spray in a consistent direction so that you aren’t just moving the dirt around. Alternatively, use a vacuum cleaner with the brush head attached.

Grease, sticky spills, water marks

If your keyboard has taken more of a beating during use or even seen a bit of liquid damage over that time, you’ll need to get a more in depth and invasive with your cleaning.

  • Unplug or turn off your keyboard.
  • Take a lint free cloth and dip it into some isopropyl alcohol, nail polish remover, or similar. Line the cloth up with the gap between your keys and rub it through them a few times, always moving in the same direction.
  • If you have enough room between key caps you can repeat the same process using a cotton swab.

Deep clean

If you want to return your keyboard to its fresh, clean, as-new state, you’ll need to deep clean it with all of the keys removed. Removing the key caps is easy with most modern keyboards—just use a butter knife or similar thin, blunt object to pry off one and you may be able to do the rest by hand. Don’t force them though. If they don’t come off fairly easily, they probably aren’t going to come off without breaking something.

Note: Before getting started it is advisable to take a picture of your keyboard so that you remember where all of your keycaps go. This goes double for anyone using a non-standard keyboard with lots of macro keys or with a foreign language layout.

  • Unplug or turn off your keyboard.
  • Remove all of the key caps on your board. Using a lint-free cloth give them a wipe using isopropyl alcohol or similar and leave them to dry.
  • With the keycaps removed, use compressed air, a vacuum, or a cloth to make sure there is no loose debris left on the board.
  • Use a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol or similar to wipe between all of the switches. Pay special attention to any stains or stubborn marks.
  • Leave the board and switches to dry completely.
  • Reassemble your keyboard. Use the image you took before you started for reference, if required.

Once your cleaning is complete, plug the keyboard back in and boot up your PC. Test that each of the keys works as intended. If not, pop the keycap off to make sure that no dirt or piece of cotton swab clogged the switch during the cleaning process. Oh, and if you invested in the best gaming mouse for your set-up, make sure you save some swabs for that too.

From a simple chassis shakedown to removing all the keycaps and the outer shell and giving certain bits a bath, these tips will help you banish that keyboard grime.

How to thoroughly clean your keyboard (without breaking anything)

These days, our desks are multi-purpose battle stations. We eat lunch or quarantine snacks as we respond to Slack messages or play PC games after hours. Or we let our desktop setups gather dust as we retreat to the couch (or, let’s be honest, bed) with our laptops.

Dirt and food crumbs can make for a messy keyboard, which is unhygienic but can also disrupt your peripheral’s functionality. Don’t let Dorito dust wreak havoc on your typing tools. As spring, and one-year WFH anniversaries, approach, it’s time to wash more than your hands. Gather your cleaning supplies and learn how best to spruce up a keyboard.

Turn It Upside Down

The easiest, and most obvious step, is to turn the keyboard upside down, thump the underside, and shake out all the yuck you can.

Unplug the keyboard from your computer or turn off its wireless. Hold up the keyboard, flip it so the keys are facing a surface you don’t mind getting dirty for a moment, and tap the bottom (not too hard), holding it at a variety of different angles. You should be able to get the bulk of the loose stuff out this way. Expect a cascade of crumbs, poppy seeds, and the like, depending on your breakfast favorites.

If you’re using a keyboard with removable keycaps (mechanical keyboards, especially, tend to feature these), take those off and shake out the keyboard without them in the way. Tap the underside of the keyboard to ensure that it’s free of anything clinging onto the surface.

The final step here would be to sweep the dirt and debris bit off the desk or table with a brush and dustpan. and try not to get too queasy while you reflect on snacks long past. If things still look grungy, keep reading. There are a few other things you can do.

Brush Out the Muck

Dirty keyboards are such a plague that specially designed keyboard brushes exist in all shapes and sizes to help you sweep out the crumbs, hair, and other forms of crud you’ll find amid your tainted QWERTY layout. Available in cleaning kits or on their own, nylon cleaning brushes can resemble a small handheld duster, an ink pen, or even the brush on a car-window ice scraper.

If you don’t feel like spending money on a dedicated brush, you can use household replacements, such as a standard toothbrush or a discarded baby-bottle brush, to clean up your keyboard—no fancy, specialized tools necessary. Simply run the brush through the space between your keys and—voila—your keyboard is as clean as the day you bought it.

That assumes the gunk isn’t stuck to the sides of the keys themselves, as is often the case. If so, you may need a stiffer brush. (Toothbrushes are pretty good for dislodging that caked-on stuff.)

Blow Out Your Keyboard

For PC users, canned air is an essential purchase, whether you want to clean out your keyboard or your gunked-up case fans. For keyboards in particular, it can blow much of the dust out of your way without much effort. All you have to do is insert the straw-like plastic hose inside the nostril of the can, and you’re ready to blast away.

You just can’t start blowing compressed air across your keyboard willy-nilly, though. Take some precautions first. Canned air won’t eliminate all of the dirt under the keys, but it will blow away everything that’s visible, and the debris will scatter across your desk and floor in a nasty cloud. It’s best to do this outdoors, or perhaps over the bathtub.

Removing the keycaps, if that is possible, will make this more effective, so do that first if it’s an option. Just don’t push the straw right up onto the surface you’re blowing on because canned air tends to create condensation when you do that, leaving pools of moisture or frost behind. Experiment, but keep a little distance to prevent harming your keyboard.

Also, another tap-and-shakeout session is worth doing after your air blasting. You’ve probably dislodged debris and pushed it into other places within the keyboard body at this point. These pieces may shake out more easily now than before.

Take Out the Cleaning Gel

Want to be Steve McQueen in The Blob? One icky-but-effective way to clean your computer keyboard is to invest in some of the gooey, often bright-colored stuff known as cleaning gel or cleaning gum. (Cyberclean is one widely found brand.)

This gelatinous adhesive picks up dust and dirt by squeezing between the smallest cracks of your keyboard (including between the keys) and suctioning up any crumbly bits or dirt it touches. You can reuse the blob until it turns a dark gray, or until you can’t bear to look at or touch it anymore, which will probably be sooner than that.

Experts say keyboards are even dirtier than the toilet. Here’s how you can return yours to sparkling condition.

How to thoroughly clean your keyboard (without breaking anything)

Break out the wet wipes. It’s time to give your keyboard a good cleaning.

Your computer’s keyboard is bound to get dirty at some point. Whether it’s a sticky key from the juice you spilled, food crumbs that didn’t make it to your mouth or keys that are extra shiny from the oils on your fingers, your keyboard is a mess. Cleaning it will make your keyboard more visually appealing and it can help remove bacteria and germs that have found their way onto the surface. Best yet, it can help keep crud from working its way underneath a key and making it stick or stop working as intended.

You may have a keyboard with keys that are low, a flush keyboard attached to your laptop or a keyboard with bouncy keys that rise from the surface. Whatever the case, the methods below will help you disinfect and clean up the keys and surrounding surfaces. In a perfect world, to further prevent your keyboard from becoming gross, it’s best to wash your hands before and after using it . However, we understand you may be at your computer for eight hours a day (and probably snacking) so this may not be as practical.

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Before you get started, make sure your laptop or keyboard is unplugged from the power cord and completely powered off to avoid damaging any electrical components. It also helps keep you from accidentally deleting something important on your computer as you clean the individual keys. Here’s how to get your laptop clean and bacteria-free.

Shake the debris out

The first thing you’ll want to do when cleaning your keyboard is to turn it upside down to shake the visible debris off — we mean yesterday’s corn chip crumbs and all the lovely skin dust that’s built up over the years. To do so, turn the keyboard (or laptop) over at an angle and gently pat the back. It’s best to do this over a trash can to avoid getting crumbs all over your floor or table.

You can even lightly shake the keyboard back and forth to move any stuck debris. Get that vacuum cleaner handy just in case.

Blow out the gunk with compressed air

How to thoroughly clean your keyboard (without breaking anything)

Spray your keyboard from left to right in a zigzag pattern.

Grab a can of compressed air with the long straw attached and angle your keyboard so the debris will fall away from it. Apple recommends holding it at a 75-degree angle and to spray in a flowing zigzag pattern so that you don’t miss any areas. Rotate your keyboard and repeat the zigzag motion until you’ve hit all four sides of the keys.

If you still see anything between the keys, you can spot clean it by spraying with short bursts of air. Do not insert the straw under the keys while spraying as this could damage the electronics.

Carefully use a disinfectant wipe or rubbing alcohol

Think of all the germs and bacteria that are harboring on your keyboard. In fact, studies show that keyboards are much dirtier than a toilet seat. It’s best to remove the keys, if possible (see below), before cleaning them. However, if you’d rather not try removing the keys on your own, you can still disinfect them.

What you’ll need is a damp disinfectant wipe (avoid bleach) or a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol. You never want to clean your keyboard with a soaked cloth, as that can damage the hardware that lives underneath the keys. Wipe all surfaces of the keyboard down — buttons, keys, cover — and allow it to dry before plugging it back in or turning it on. You can gently overturn the keyboard (or laptop) if you’re worried that too much liquid has dripped inside beneath the components.

Pop the keys off, if possible

Most keyboards have the option to pop off the keys in order to give them a good deep cleaning. However, if it’s your laptop keyboard you’re trying to clean, check the make and model first to make sure the keys can actually be removed — you don’t want to damage your keyboard. For example, if you have a butterfly keyboard as some MacBook models have , you need to be careful about prying the keys off because it can damage the butterfly clip mounts.

You’ll need a tool that’s thin and flat enough to fit under the keys, yet firm to easily lift them. A flathead screwdriver or butter knife are both good options if you don’t have a tool designated for this task. Carefully place the object under the key and gently pry it up. Careful now, you don’t want to damage the keys.

Once you have the keys off, clean out the gunk with a cotton swab or toothpick. You can also soak the keys in soapy water or use a disinfectant wipe to clean them. Let them dry completely before reapplying them to the keyboard.

If your keys don’t pop off, try using the tape method . Take a small piece of clear tape and fold it in half, sticky side up. Slide the tape underneath the keys and move it back and forth to collect dust. If your keyboard has a ton of debris, you may need to replace the tape often.

How to thoroughly clean your keyboard (without breaking anything)

Make sure the keys can be popped off before trying to pry them up.

Vacuum up anything you missed

If you see a few crumbs here and there that you missed, use a small vacuum cleaner attachment to remove them.

What not to do

  • Never spray liquid onto your keyboard — it can cause water damage.
  • Don’t submerge your keyboard in water.
  • Don’t yank the keys off the keyboard — it could crack, break or otherwise damage them.
  • Don’t use any cleaning products that contain bleach.

Your keyboard is just one of the many things you touch often that’s covered with germs. Here’s how to clean your phone screen without damaging it and how to sanitize the surfaces in your home and car .

According to research done by IT company CBT Nuggets, your laptop’s keyboard could carry 20,000 times more bacteria than your toilet seat. And with so much of your work, school, socializing, and entertainment now taking place online, you’re probably using your laptop more than ever.

Whether you’re struggling with crumbs, dust, fingerprints, pet hair, or sticky residue, you should be able to clean your keys with materials you already have lying around. And if you share a device with other members of your household, you can prevent the spread of germs as well. It’ll just take a few minutes out of your day, and your keyboard will look brand-new.

Here’s what to do.

Turn it off

Before you get started, turn off your computer. You don’t want to accidentally hit a hotkey combination that leads to disaster. Unplug it, as well, to reduce the risk of shorting something if any moisture gets inside. And make sure you have everything important backed up in case something goes horribly wrong. (This is, of course, good practice whether you’re cleaning your keyboard or not.)

Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

Get rid of crumbs

To clear out the biggest crumbs, dust, or other debris that wandered into your keys, turn your laptop upside down and allow them to fall out. Gently tap the bottom of the chassis to dislodge any stubborn particles. You can also press cleaning slime into the spaces between your keys, which sticks to and picks up debris.

If that doesn’t get everything, give the keyboard a once-over with a vacuum. Make sure that you use a small attachment and the lowest power setting. (The last thing you want is to suck up one of your keycaps.) If you have a small handheld vacuum, even better.

You can also use a can of compressed air. Spray the air in a zigzag pattern so you don’t miss any nooks and crannies, and make sure you hit all sides of each key. If you don’t have compressed air, you can try another device that blows air (such as a blow dryer). Do not spray air directly under the keycaps; it could damage delicate electronics.

If you’ve done all of this and still have some gunk under your keys, you may need to pop the keys off. Whether you can do this will depend on your laptop model. In some cases, it won’t be possible to do without breaking the keys, and you’ll want to speak to a professional. If you need to remove your keycaps, look up your laptop model and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Even fancy RGB keyboards need a wash from time to time. Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Disinfect and remove smudges

Next, clean the surface of the keyboard itself to eliminate germs, smudges, and stains. First, wipe everything down with a disinfectant wipe. Avoid any wipes that contain bleach. If you don’t have wipes, a soft cloth with some rubbing alcohol can also work. Wipe the keycaps one at a time, as well as the areas between them, to make sure you get every spot.

You want to avoid getting any liquid under the keys, so don’t use any cloth that’s dripping wet. If needed, wring your wipes out before you use them. Do not spray water or any cleaning liquids directly on the keyboard.

Next, go over everything with a damp cloth (again: damp, not dripping). Ideally, you’ll want to use a microfiber cloth. If you don’t have one, another cloth is okay. Try to avoid anything abrasive that could scratch the keys, like a paper towel.

Finally, dry the area off with another soft cloth. There you go — all clean!

Mechanical keyboards are made to be durable, but that doesn’t mean they don’t take damage when used or maintained incorrectly. Here are 5 things you definitely shouldn’t do to your mechanical keyboard:

1. Spill Something

It’s sort of a no-brainer, but liquids of any kind don’t mix well with electronic devices, and depending on the circumstances, a spilled drink may equal a replacement for your pricy keyboard. The easiest way to avoid spills is to avoid having liquids at your desk. But let’s be honest, if you’re sitting at your desk for long periods of time, you’ll probably end up bringing a snack or drink to your desk, and spills do happen. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do if you have a spill. For starters, unplug your keyboard to prevent electrical damage and clean out as much liquid as possible with rags, towels, or by turning your keyboard upside down on a towel. Depending on your type of keyboard and the type of liquid spilled, you may need to remove keycaps for deeper cleaning. Different keyboards have different steps for taking pieces apart, so you should look up your specific brand and model’s maintenance guide. If it’s a Das Keyboard that gets soaked, try this handy guide to cleaning spills.

2. Forget to Clean

You didn’t buy your mechanical keyboard because it was cheap. You bought it because you wanted to invest in better equipment that should last a long time. If you don’t give it the proper maintenance, you may experience some performance issues like sticky keys or reduce the life of your keyboard. Plus, have you ever seen keyboards that haven’t been cleaned in a long time? They can get pretty gross. Make regular cleanings a part of your routine to keep your keyboard from collecting germs, grime, and debris.

3. Clean Incorrectly

While you definitely should clean your keyboard once in a while, you should do it the right way or you may accidentally damage your keyboard. Always check what your manufacturer recommends for cleaning, especially when using chemicals, such as isopropyl alcohol, or removing tricky pieces, such as larger keys. What works for one keyboard may break another. If you want to clean a Das Keyboard, check out this maintenance guide.

4. Rage Smash

It’s super frustrating when your team loses a close game or you die on the last boss battle, but try not to take it out on your keyboard. Repeatedly pounding keys harder than necessary or hitting your keyboard with your fist or other objects can lead to broken keys or switches that can be difficult or costly to fix. Try to relieve stress in other ways that don’t involve raging on your keyboard.

5. Transport Incorrectly

Transporting your keyboard incorrectly can lead to similar problems as rage smashing, such as broken switches or keycaps. Next time you have to move your computer, make sure to protect your keyboard from extra damage by using a snug case that will reduce impact. Keyboard slings are great portable options that protect your keyboard and make it easy to carry. Some, like this one, even protect your other gaming accessories like your mouse, cables, and headset.

Have you accidentally damaged a keyboard? How did you fix it?

No matter how clean a house you keep, your computers and gadgets are bound to get a little dirty here and there. Here's what you need to clean them, and how to do it without hurting them.

Your gadgets aren't as resilient as they might seem, and just spraying Windex on everything and rubbing it down with a paper towel can cause all sorts of damage to a device. However, they are remarkably easy to clean as long as you do it right—and you can do most of it with just a few simple household items (or at the very least, a trip to CVS). Here's how to do it.

Blast from the past is a weekly feature at Lifehacker in which we revive old, but still relevant, posts for your reading and hacking pleasure. This week, Linus Tech Tips made this great video using some of our past posts as inspiration, so we're featuring it alongside many of our original cleaning tips for your gadgets.

Clean Your Monitor With Water (or Diluted White Vinegar)

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LCD screens are pretty delicate, and you don't want to press hard on them, because that can burn out the pixels. Instead, turn your monitor off (so you can better see the dirty spots), and grab a dry microfiber cloth. Many monitors and other gadgets come with one. From there, just gently wipe the screen. If you need to, add a little bit of water. In most cases, that should be all you need.

If you have a more hearty build-up of spots or gunk, resist the urge to press hard and wet the cloth with a 50-50 mix of water and white vinegar. You can use a special monitor cleaner if you desire, but the vinegar/water mix should work just fine . If you can, use distilled water instead of tap water, since tap water is likely to leave white spots on your screen from salt or other deposits.

Remember, as you're doing this, that you want to use a soft cloth, preferably microfiber. Do not use anything paper-based, like paper towel, Kleenex, or toilet paper, since it can scratch up your monitor. If you don't have a microfiber cloth, coff ee filters will do in a pinch . Also remember never to spray any liquid on the monitor itself—always spray it on your cloth first.

Use a Coffee Filter to Clean Your LCD Screens

We've shown you one way to correctly clean your LCD screen, but technology blog Unplggd shows us…

Clean Your Touch Screen Gadgets with Water, Diluted Vinegar, or Rubbing Alcohol

Like your monitor, the best cleaner for a touch screen device is either plain old water or a 50/50 mix of distilled water and vinegar. That said, touch screens are a bit more resilient than LCD monitors, due to the fact that they're meant to be touched, so you can press a bit harder if you have a particularly stubborn spot (don't go overboard, though).

Just like everything else, use a microfiber cloth and spray the cloth, not the screen, with a small amount of liquid before wiping it down. The last thing you need is to get your phone wet, void your warranty, and break something important (like the charging socket).

If you want to not only clean but disinfect your touch screen , you can use a bit of isopropyl alcohol on some devices (Apple, for example, does not recommend it). Check your manufacturer's warnings to see what they allow.

Lastly, if your smartphone is filled with dust, dirt, and other disgusting sediment, you may have to open it up and give it a deeper clean, a process that our friends at the How-To Geek have gone through in detail .

How to Clean Your Dirty Smartphone (Without Breaking Something)

We have already shown you how to clean your keyboard without breaking it, but did you know your…

Clean Your Keyboard with Compressed Air and Rubbing Alcohol

We've mentioned this before , but our friends over at the How-To Geek have a great rundown on how to deep clean your keyboard . If your keyboard is only mildly dirty, you should be able to get by with two things: blowing some compressed air in between the keys (to blow out dust) and cleaning dirty keys with a swab of rubbing alcohol to remove oil, grime, and germs. Alternatively, we've become very big fans of the Mr. Clean Magic eraser , and it'll do wonders for a grimy keyboard, especially if it's noticeably oily. If your keyboard's rather disgusting, though, you might have to pop out the keys and really dig in with a toothbrush. Check out their full guide for more info on how to do that.

Clean Your Keyboard Top-to-Bottom With a Few Household Items

No matter how clean you try to keep your keyboard, the dust and oil your fingers pick up over the…

Also, don't forget to turn your keyboard off (if it's wireless) or unplug it (if it's wired) before you start cleaning. If you're just giving it a quick wipe-down, though, and don't want to get behind your tower, you can use an app like previously mentioned ToddlerTrap (Windows) previously mentioned Keyboard Cleaner (Mac) to turn it off while you touch it up.

Clean Your Keyboard Without Powering Off with ToddlerTrap

Windows only: Food, hair, dust, skin cells—they all end up under your typing keys and pressed…

Clean Your Mouse with a Bit of Water or Alcohol

With the exception of old-school mice or the Apple Mighty Mouse , most mice shouldn't need to be opened up to be cleaned. Generally, you can just turn it over and take a cotton swab to the rubber pads, wetting it with water or alcohol if necessary. For the mouse buttons, you should be able to clean it in much the same way you did the keyboard—use some alcohol on a cotton swab to rub away dirt and grime. If you absolutely have to, you can look up a guide to taking apart your mouse, but know that this probably voids your warranty and shouldn't be necessary in most cases. Also, remember to turn off or unplug your mouse before cleaning.

Clean Your Laptop Body with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

If you have some non-acetone nail polish remover around , it's been known to clean up laptops (especially lightly-colored ones, like the old white MacBooks) quite well, but nothing works quite as well as the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser . Get it wet, wring out as much water as you can, and lightly rub it over your trackpad, keyboard, and laptop body. It should clean them up, remove any grease from your fingers, and give it that new, fresh-from-the-store look. Don't press down too hard, since the Magic Eraser has a tendency to "shed" when rubbed hard, which will just dirty your computer up more. It's also an abrasive, which means it can rub off whatever coating is on your device if you press hard. If your computer's grimier than that, clean your keyboard with an alcohol-soaked swap as described above in the keyboard section.