ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Thoroughly Clean your Computer Keyboard

Updated on September 3, 2013

I know what you’re thinking…you’ve never thought about cleaning your computer keyboard until now, right?  You’ve probably been using that keyboard for years, and not cleaned it once.  Eeewww…that’s disgusting.  If you have kids using it everyday as well, who knows what evil lurks on and under those keys.

You might think I’m just being a bit too fastidious (I won’t use that ‘other’ word…this is a family show).   Let’s face it, germs are everywhere.  This isn’t a terrible thing in and of itself.  However, if you’re unhealthy, or have a poor diet, those keyboard germs could be part of a larger health issue.

Computer keyboard. Photo by: timorous
Computer keyboard. Photo by: timorous

With a computer keyboard, as with most household, or office things, it’s a matter of having a routine for cleaning what needs to be cleaned, when it needs to be cleaned.  For your computer keyboard, whether it’s a standard desktop keyboard, or a laptop, it’s basically the same procedure.  You can go the easy route, and just clean the tops and visible edges of the keys.  However, for this article we’re going to take all the keys off, and clean the underbelly as well.

Here’s what you’ll need for cleaning your computer keyboard…

  • a screwdriver
  • a vacuum or a can of compressed air
  • cotton swabs
  • some dish detergent and warm water
  • a can of dry lubricant
  • a soft, lint-free cloth
  • a toothbrush (somewhat optional)
  • baking soda, and or vinegar (also optional)
  • isopropyl alcohol or lighter fluid

Getting the keys off your computer keyboard

Before you start prying off the keys, it might also be a good idea to print a diagram of where all those keys go, before you start pulling them all off. You’d want to be sure of getting them all back in the right place. Then, turn off the computer.

First of all, you’ll need a tool with a fairly wide, but thin blade. A slot screwdriver should work fine, or a regular kitchen knife (a butter knife). Be careful not to use too much force. The plastic is not all that hard, and you can gouge and mangle the keys if you’re not careful. Hold on to the key as you pry it off, otherwise it may go flying off to who knows where. It’s a good idea to soak them in a bowl of the detergent and warm water for a while.

A note on laptop keyboards...

For laptop keyboards, you need to be even more careful. Most have small rubber washers for each key, so don’t lose them. Keep them separate from the keys (these washers need to be cleaned as well).

The larger keys, like Enter, Shift, and Backspace, and the Spacebar are usually attached with a wire clip, as well as its’ center stub. I’ll show you how to put them back properly later (or watch the video below).

Here's a fun, and informative video I made...just for you

Where did all that crud come from?

Now that you’ve got all the keys off, you’ll see a bunch of raised mounds that the keys snap into.  On a desktop computer keyboard, they’re raised about 10mm above the bed of the keyboard, on a laptop, not very much.  So on a laptop, you have a better chance of causing damage, if it’s a major spill of something other than water. On a standard computer desktop keyboard, you’d have more leeway.  That notion of having to replace the keyboard if you spill something on it, only really applies to laptop computers, not so much to the desktop keyboards.

As for getting the crud off, you should use a vacuum or the compressed air first, to get the dust and loose dirt off.  For the dried up stuff you’ll need either a toothbrush and warm, soapy water (use can use anti-bacterial detergent if you like), or cotton swabs.

Be careful though…don’t get water into the insides of the raised mounds.  Also, be careful with any alcohol-based cleaners, the plastic may not take kindly to some cleaners (especially acetone!).  Stick to isopropyl alcohol, or lighter fluid, if it’s really stubborn crud.  No matter what you use, make sure the cotton swab in barely damp, not soaking wet.  Carefully clean inside the raised mounds with the cotton swab.  Change the cotton swabs often…no good spreading the dirt around even more.

You may need to do some scraping if it’s really old crud.  Just try and get off as much as you can, and make sure it’s dry before going to the next the keys.

Cleaning the keys

After soaking them in warm water and (anti-bacterial) detergent for a while, they may still need some scrubbing.  You can use some baking soda or vinegar (or a combination of the two, if you’re careful), and a toothbrush.  This should get them as clean as new.  Then just rinse or wipe them off with a damp cloth, followed by a dry cloth or a paper towel.  Leave them to dry completely.

Key replacement.  Photo by: timorous
Key replacement. Photo by: timorous

Replacing the keys

Before you start replacing the keys, spray the raised mounds and the slots for the larger keys, lightly with the dry lubricant…not too much. Now for each key, place it face down on a paper towel, and carefully spray a small amount of the dry lubricant on all sides of the central key stub…again, not too much. Remember to spray the wire brackets on the larger keys as well.

Replacing the keys is the relatively easy part, as long as you remember where they all go. You’ll notice that on a regular desktop keyboard, the keys have a longer bevel on one side, the side that faces you. The square keys can be put in upside down, but try not to do that..just pay attention to what you’re doing. The larger keys usually have a wire bracket that slips under a couple of slots on the bed of the keyboard (see the photo above, or watch the video above). In all cases, you just align the key over the raised mound and press down until it snaps into place.

For the laptop, don't forget the little rubber washers that go on before the key goes on.

You’re done

Now that you’ve got all the keys back in the right place, you’re good to go. Congratulations. That wasn’t so hard was it? …and it didn’t cost you an arm and a leg to have some computer tech (grudgingly) do it for you.

Now that you know how, you can do it far more regularly. You will…won’t you? You promised…

This article ©2011 by timorous+

I'm always happy to read your comments...

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • timorous profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Nichol 

      6 years ago from Me to You

      It's a great idea. Now you can clean all those keyboards that are taking up valuable space, and give them away to charities. Thanks Jackie.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      6 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This looks like a good idea, you wouldn't believe all the key boards I have that are simply packed away from being dirty! Thank you.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I clean my keyboard ever weekend. its amazing what comes out of it (don't even want to know) when I turn it upside down and hit it a few times. Thanks for the other tips you mention here too.

    • timorous profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Nichol 

      6 years ago from Me to You

      Hi Jama. So glad you enjoyed the hub, and I hope you watched the video. I just love the sprightly music. Oh..and this was my very first video.

      Yeah, the laptop keys are bit more finicky, you just need to be more careful and methodical. See you around.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      timorous, this is the first hub of yours I've read, but I'm already sensing you're possibly the only person who could write a hub on cleaning computer keyboard and make it entertaining as well as educational!

      My laptop keyboard has been in need of a good cleaning for awhile, but I didn't know how different it'd be from cleaning a desktop keyboard. Thanks! (I have plenty of experience cleaning desktop keyboards...and making the templates *before* the key popping.)

      Voted up and awesome! ;D

    • timorous profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Nichol 

      7 years ago from Me to You

      You're so right, danielleantosz. I'm sure all of us are guilty of such neglect.

    • danielleantosz profile image


      7 years ago from Florida

      very useful, its a pain but since I drink and eat at my computer desk AND have a cat who thinks its a toy mine is quite gross!

    • The Jet profile image

      The Jet 

      7 years ago from The Bay

      Will do.

    • timorous profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Nichol 

      7 years ago from Me to You

      Hi T.J. Well hey, you go right ahead and make that keyboard spick and span. Thanks for visiting.

    • The Jet profile image

      The Jet 

      7 years ago from The Bay

      Thanks! My keyboard needs this proper cleaning.

    • timorous profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Nichol 

      7 years ago from Me to You

      Haha..that's right T.Q.M., all creatures have a right to live..I totally agree. Sometimes it's better to leave things be. You might end up making things worse. It just depends whether you're ok with the bacteria, or if it's the worst thing ever. Thanks for the vote.

    • The Quiz Master profile image


      7 years ago from England

      Hi Timorous,

      If you saw my keyboard you'd freek out!

      I'm sure there is stuff alive in there and I wouldn't want to destroy it's ecosystem.

      Great hub and fun video, voted up from me.

    • timorous profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Nichol 

      8 years ago from Me to You

      That's the spirit, vocalcoach. I'm so glad I could make it as fun and easy as it really is. Don't forget to sing while you rub and scrub those keys. :) Cheers.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      8 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      An outstanding hub! I am going to do this tomorrow. You've made the steps to cleaning the keyboard fun. Thanks. :)

    • timorous profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Nichol 

      8 years ago from Me to You

      Hi fucsia. Thanks for having a fun and useful look at cleaning your keyboard.

    • fucsia profile image


      8 years ago

      Your video is very useful and funny! Thanks for your tip!

    • timorous profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Nichol 

      8 years ago from Me to You

      Hi thoughtforce. Thanks for visiting and enjoying the video and useful info. Don't be shy about attacking the cleaning, you'll be glad you did.

      Green Lotus...wonderful to see you again. I'm sorry you don't have the compulsion to do a more thorough job, although it's good to see you're obviously not a germ-o-phobe. Thanks for enjoying the info, and presumably the video.

    • Green Lotus profile image


      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Hey, this is hard! Sorry tim, there's no way I would remove the keys on my apple keyboard even if there is lurking crud! I think I'll just clean around the edges with denatured alcohol and a q-tip!

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 

      8 years ago from Sweden

      That video was awesome and funny, very dashing music to go with this subject:)Sorry, but I have to turn off my computer now, because now I know how much dirt there are under those keys! I will push your voting up button first though! Thanks for this funny and informative hub!

    • timorous profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Nichol 

      8 years ago from Me to You

      Oh Hi sofs. I'm so glad you enjoyed the video, and also found the subject matter useful. Now go and clean that keyboard of yours...haha.

      Thanks buddy. Cheers.

    • timorous profile imageAUTHOR

      Tim Nichol 

      8 years ago from Me to You

      Hey Kimberly, you go right ahead and clean any keys you like (particularly F#). Nice to see ya, grrrl. I presume you found the video amusing as well as useful...whatever [LOL]

      love ya two

    • sofs profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow Tim that is hilarious..I know I should say useful, but that video is amusing to say the least. I enjoyed every bit of it and I am going to vote it up and useful.

    • dear addict profile image

      dear addict 

      8 years ago from where people are helping people

      Very helpful Hub, and here I thought I was going to be learning to clean my car keys *sigh* OK fine, I don't have a car


      love, more than usual today,



    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)