Here’s our in depth How To Clean a Mechanical Keyboard guide. It doesn’t matter if your a gamer, a professional typist or an occasional PC user, we all use our mechanical keyboards quite a lot.
It’s no surprise they become quite filthy after a while. If your mechanical keyboard needs a good clean, you’ve come to the right place! This article will discuss how to clean a mechanical keyboard, using several different methods, so you can take good care of this important and often expensive device.
How To Clean a Mechanical Keyboard
Preventive cleaning is exactly what it sounds like; it’s something you should do regularly to prevent the accumulation of dirt and grime. This is particularly relevant if you tend to eat your meals near your keyboard or if you tend to snack while you work or play.
Preventive cleaning will prevent dirt from fusing to the metal plate that’s below the key switch. If that happens, it takes a lot of work to clean up and it can be very inconvenient. The first step is avoidance, try to avoid the dirt gathering on your keyboard in the first place.
So, reduce the amount of food eaten at your desk. I know sometimes it’s unavoidable, so if you do eat at your desk and take a working lunch here’s how to give your mechanical keyboard a quick clean.
Follow these steps to a cleaner keyboard:
- Unplug your mechanical keyboard.
- Take a vacuum and remove the dust and dirt from the plate of the keyboard. You’ll need a handheld vacuum for this, which you must gently press on the keycaps to make sure you get everything.
- Wipe your mechanical keyboard using a damp microfiber cloth once you’re done vacuuming it.
- Dry it with a cloth and avoid paper towels because they will leave particles behind and even make tiny scratches on the surface of the mechanical keyboard.
How To Properly Clean A Mechanical Keyboard
A good deep clean is probably the next step you’re going to want to take. If you’re dealing with stubborn grime that doesn’t yield to your vacuuming, a deep clean is your only option.
After a while, grime is not the only thing that builds up! Finger oils build up as well and that can’t be vacuumed, but here’s what you can do:
- Unplug your mechanical keyboard.
- Get a keycap puller and use it to remove the keycaps. If you can’t remove some of them or if you don’t want to, you can use a damp microfiber cloth to clean them.
- Now that the keycaps are detached, you can submerge them in a bath of warm soapy water.
- You can also use denture tablets which are easy to find and they do a great job. Simply take a bowl of warm water, use two denture tablets, and let it sit for a minimum of 6 hours.
- While the keycaps are soaking, you can use a small brush to give them a gentle scrub.
- Then, lay out the keycaps until they’re completely dry.
- Vacuum the keyboard plate to get rid of dust and debris.
- If there’s any goo on the keyboard play, you can take a damp cloth to wipe it, dry it with another cloth, and then place it face down to air dry until the keycaps are ready to be put back on.
How To Clean Inside Of Mechanical Keyboard
If your mechanical keyboard still needs more cleaning because you haven’t paid attention to it in years, don’t worry! That’s what a deep cleaning is for.
For this method, you need to consider getting an ultrasonic cleaner, which will allow you to remove all the grim from your mechanical keyboard. You can find an ultrasonic cleaner online very easily and you can expect to pay up to $90 for a standard 120 watts ultrasonic cleaner.
The best ultrasonic cleaner on the market is something like the Vevor 3L. It can be picked up from Amazon. To check it out, hit the affiliate link here.
As always safety first. Safety is paramount so you want to ensure you start by unplugging your mechanical keyboard. Next what you want to do is get a keycap puller.
Hit the affiliate link here to buy a keycap puller. At £1.50 / $3 they’re really cheap. But, they are such a handy device to have around.
A keycap puller is used to remove keycaps. So go ahead and remove the keycaps, just as explained above in the second step of the deferred cleaning method. Next, follow these steps:
- Place half of the keycaps into the ultrasonic cleaner, cover them with water, use two denture tablets, and let the machine run for 6 to 10 minutes.
- Stir the keycaps every 2 minutes to make sure they’re all exposed to the ultrasonic transducers of the machine.
- Once the machine is done doing its thing, lay the keycaps out so they can air dry completely.
- The next step is to open the keyboard case by carefully detaching any necessary screws or cables. We recommend you take pictures before you do this so you can have a visual reference for when you need to put everything back together.
- Now that your mechanical keyboard is disassembled, you can place the keyboard plate and PCB aside.
- If the grime build-up is mild, you can vacuum the inside of the keyboard using a brush attachment and then go in with a damp microfiber cloth.
- If the grime build-up is major, you can scrub it using a medium-stiff bristle brush and some dish soap. Then, rinse thoroughly and dry everything with a cloth. Just make sure there aren’t electronics attached to the case of the mechanical keyboard. Otherwise, you won’t be able to do this.
- Next, get a small stiff-bristle brush to loosen any debris that’s stuck to the keyboard plate while avoiding the switch stems.
- If there’s goo, you can use a damp microfiber cloth or a Q-tip to wipe it up.
- Then, place the PCB and keyboard plate face down while they dry.
- Once everything’s dry, assemble your mechanical keyboard again and put the keycaps back on.
As you can see, cleaning your mechanical keyboard is not too difficult. It all depends on the level of dirt you’re dealing with. Once you do a deep cleaning, your keyboard will work as new.
To maintain your mechanical keyboard, create the habit of doing preventive cleaning regularly. Also, avoid eating or drinking directly near your keyboard to avoid messes or spills.
If you do spill something on your keyboard by accident and it didn’t suffer any damage, you can do a deferred cleaning or a deep cleaning. Just make sure you do it as soon as possible so you can prevent any issues if possible. If it can’t be salvaged, it’s time for a new keyboard!
Dishwasher Safe Keyboards
Now, believe it or not, you can get dishwasher safe keyboards! There aren’t that many on the market but they do offer a substantial benefit over traditional keyboards.
The main benefit is that they can go in a dishwasher. By putting them through the manufacturers recommended cycle you can keep them super clean. These have a big advantage in that the user experience for normal typing, working or gaming is exactly the same.
They can be wiped with disinfectant and sprayed or dusted with a can of compressed air. We used a can of compressed air in our Analog Stick Drift how to guide recently, which is worth checking out.
We’ve detailed a bit more about using compressed air further down this how to guide.
For a more robust clean they can be unplugged from the computer and washed in the sick. Some can be fully submerged in water and some models can even go in the dishwasher.
One important thing to note though is that washing a potentially contaminated keyboard should be done in an appropriate place as some virus may remain in the washing area. So use an appropriate sanitiser for your particular use case.
Some washable / dishwasher safe keyboards you should check are linked below,. For more information, just hit the affiliate links to go direct to the product page.
Keyboard covers can be used but they are prone to splitting and in the majority of cases they aren’t designed to fit specific keyboards. This basically means that they don’t fit well enough to ensure dirt, grime and bacteria cannot get underneath them.
They are useful in some scenarios though. They’re appropriate for use in environments such as garages and petrol stations. They’re used as a physical barrier to soiling rather than to reduce infection risk.
A fair few keyboards on the market have ‘built-in’ antibacterial properties in their materials. These keyboards can be of benefit in an everyday situation in terms of cleanliness. In essence, they might kill some germs but are not intended to replace washing or proper sanitatisation with the approrpiate chemicals.
A combination of an anti bac keyboard and a keyboard cleaning regime is the best of both worlds.
A keyboard such as the AZIO KM535 has anti bacterial properties and can be had from Amazon for a low price. It gives added confidence that it reduces bacterial transmission via touching the keyboard.
Hit the affiliate link here, to check it out.
Clean Your Keyboard With A Can Of Air
To clean out dust, dirt, hair and food crumbs, you can use a can of compressed air, just hit the affiliate link if you don’t have one.
Please make sure you use the included straw that comes with the can and never spray while holding the can upside down. Doing so may cause propellant to spray on the keyboard. These cans can get really cold, so only spray in 3 second bursts.
If you don’t have a can of compressed air? I suggest turning the keyboard upside down and shaking or tapping it gently to dislodge debris.
Electric Mechanical Keyboard Cleaner
An electrical mechanical keyboard air duster is most definitely worth the upfront extra cost. You can get one for around £60 / $50. No more worrying about running out of compressed air, the can getting freezing cold, or spraying the liquid out.
The blower is also significantly more powerful. The only downsides over compressed air is that it’s louder and you need to be careful around fans.
An electrical air duster is a comfortable and handy product. It helps reduce water use but using electric to power it. It helps in cleaning away the smallest of the smallest dust particles.
Hit the affiliate link here to check them out.
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If you use any of the Amazon links in this article they are affiliate links. This means that if you go onto buy something from Amazon I may get a small commission. It won’t cost you anything extra but it helps me to pay for the running costs of the blog and allows me to bring you great content! Thank you so much for your support.