Computer Cleaning Guide: How to Clean Keyboards, Mouses, Monitors, and Laptops
Here is the layout for a keyboard. Use this to make sure your keys are in the right place after you've finished cleaning them.
~ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 - +
Q W E R T Y U I O P [ ] \
A S D F G H J K L ; '
Z X C V B N M , . /
Desktop Computers: How to Clean Your Keyboard
Keyboards have this way of getting filthy, gross, disgusting...you get the idea. Between the dirt and oils from our hands making the keys grubby, dirt, dust, pet hair, crumbs, and the occasional coffee spill can make their way under the keys. Add the fact that those keys are a breeding ground for bacteria, and it's pretty clear that cleaning the keyboard regularly should be priority. We'll cover two ways of cleaning: a thorough cleaning, which you should do anytime you have spilled something, or when your keys start sticking. Then, we'll cover a quick-clean method to do once a week or so to keep your keyboard in good shape.
The Big Clean
Supplies: soft cloth, warm water, cotton swabs, compressed air or a vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool, small flathead screwdriver, small bowl
Step One: Unplug your keyboard from the computer.
Step Two: Use the soft cloth (dry) to wipe any surface dust off of the keyboard.
Step Three: Make note of the position of each key. Either write it out on a sheet of paper, or use the handy chart below.
Step Four: Using the screwdriver, pop each key off of the keyboard and place into the bowl. Note: don't bother with the larger keys, such as the space bar, enter key, or shift keys. These often have additional wires or springs below them that can make replacing them a pain. The dirtiest part of the keyboard is beneath the letter keys, so just removing those will be plenty.
Step Five: Use the compressed air or vacuum to remove any dust, dirt, or hair. Vacuum or blow around any keys you left on the keyboard to dislodge any dirt from beneath them. For any spills, wipe with a swab dipped in a bit of water or isopropyl alcohol.
Step Six: Use a cotton swab, either dry or slightly moistened with isopropyl alcohol, to clean around and the tops of keys you've left on the keyboard.
Step Seven: Slightly dampen your soft cloth with a little water. It should be barely damp. Wipe each key you've removed with the dampened cloth, set them aside to dry.
Step Eight: Replace the keys, according to your keyboard layout chart. You don't need to press hard--just until you hear a click. They'll only go on one way, so don't force them.
Step Nine: Plug your keyboard back in, and you're ready to work.
The Quick Clean
Supplies: Cotton swabs, isopropyl alcohol, soft cloth
Step One: Unplug your keyboard.
Step Two: Turn keyboard upside down and gently shake it over a garbage can. This will dislodge trapped dirt from under the keys.
Step Three: Wipe the keyboard down with a dry soft cloth.
Step Four: Use the cotton swab, slightly dampened with isopropyl alcohol, to clean between, around, and the surfaces of the keys.
Step Five: Plug it back in, and get back to work.
Desktop Computers: How to Clean Your Mouse
Many of us still use rollerball mouses for our computers, and if you use one, you know how annoying they can get when they're dirty. They start getting less accurate, start moving jerkily, or just plain won't do what you want them to do. When this happens, the solution is a simple cleaning.
Supplies: soft cloth, cotton swabs, isopropyl alcohol
Step One: Unplug your mouse.
Step Two: Look at the bottom of your mouse. You will see a circular cover plate that holds the ball in place. Give this cover plate a slight turn to the right, and it will pop right off. Remove the ball.
Step Three: Use a swab dampened with alcohol to wipe down the ball, the cover plate, and the inside of the mouse.
Step Four: Use the cloth, slightly dampened with a bit of water, to clean the top and sides of the mouse. Let dry.
Step Five: Pop the ball back in, replace the cover plate, and plug your mouse back in.
Desktop Computers: How to Clean a Monitor
Blurry, finger-printy monitors are a pain to look at. The good news is, it's an easy job to get them clean. Always begin by turning your monitor off.
CRT Monitors: For CRTs, use a soft cloth sprayed with a bit of Windex or whatever other cleaner you use to clean your windows. Wipe the monitor and housing with the cloth to remove smudges and other grime. Note: never spray the cleaner directly on the screen. It can seep and drip under the edges of the monitor surround and damage the circuits inside. Another option, though more expensive, is to use pre-moistened monitor wipes that you can purchase at office supply stores.
LCD Monitors: Never use any ammonia cleaners or abrasives on an LCD. The best option is to use a soft cloth (not paper towel---it's too abrasive) slightly dampened with plain water. Wipe the whole thing down (gently---there's no need to go all He-Man on it) and you're done.
Supplies for Cleaning Your Computer
Laptops: How to Clean the Screen and Keyboard
Laptops seem to get grosser, faster. Maybe it's because they come on the road with us. For whatever reason, laptops seem to need regular cleaning. They present special challenges. I'm going to give a bare-bones, safe for all laptops cleaning method here. You can get involved removing your keys and all that, if your user manual says it's okay. The method I'm going to give you will do great job, and you can be sure it won't do any damage.
Supplies: Soft cloth, cotton swabs, isopropyl alcohol, water, vacuum with crevice tool
Step One: Turn off your computer.
Step Two: Open it up, turn it upside down, and gently shake it over a garbage can to dislodge dirt and crumbs.
Step Three: Use the vacuum to thoroughly vacuum the keyboard. This will remove most dust and gunk that is still hiding under the keys.
Step Four: Using a swab slightly moistened with isopropyl alcohol, clean around and on the surface of each key.
Step Five: Using a soft cloth, slightly dampened with water (barely damp!) clean the casing, touchpad, and screen.
Step Six: Let it dry, and you're ready to work.