How to clean a mechanical keyboard? You may have been wondering the answer to that question if you are a gamer minded person or a person who likes his/her items always up in a good condition, which is a great thing. No matter what, you are here because you are searching an answer to your question. And don’t worry, you will find all the answers that you are looking for. KEEP ON READING!!
In this article we will discuss the main processes behind the cleaning of a mechanical keyboard, necessary items that we need to accomplish the finest detailed cleaning and little useful tips behind the process of good keyboard maintenance.
LET’S START! – The Regime and Items
Just like in engineering, maintanence is important. You must keep the condition of your keyboard up and maintain it in regular intervals. I advice you to repeat this clean up process of your keyboard once in every two weeks. Make it three if you’re too lazy to do it.
I will be advising you some products for the proper cleaning of your keyboard. But please don’t think of me as a promoter or advertiser, because some of these products are really meant to keep your keyboard healthy during the process and prevent damages. Best example for this is a keycap remover. And also there is my personal favourite Cyber Clean gel.
You may also clean your keyboard without help of any other special product, they are not a must. But i myself use these additional helpers to clean my keyboard and they really work out great. I’ve never encountered with any problems like broken keycaps or deformed keyboard chasis, thanks to these items.
Enough chit chat. Let’s talk about keyboards.
What Do You Need??
As i said, you need to get some stuff to clean your keyboard, it won’t clean itself. First of all, let’s start with obtaining the proper equipment to clean our keyboard.
- Warm water
- Cloth for wiping and cotton swabs
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Compressed air
- Sticky cleaning gel
- Keycap Remover
Our cleaning will be consisting of two parts. General surface cleaning and deep cleaning.
First part: General surface cleaning
Our cleaning will go step by step from surface to deeper areas in order to achieve full size hygen. Your first task is to plug-off your keyboard.
Grab your keyboard and take it over a trash can or some surface that you can use as a trash and throw away later. For example you can lay down newspaper pages on the floor. Then turn your keyboard upside down. Shake your keyboard to force all the dust, hair and junk out. Don’t worry about being too harsh to your keyboard. Just don’t slam it or tear it apart. It will be fine even if you shake it hardly.
After shaking out your keyboard, apply compressed air to it to remove the remained dust and junk at the inner parts of your keyboard. Hold the compressed air can 5-10 cm/2-4” above your keyboard with a 45-70 degree angle. This is not to scratch and damage your keyboard.
Wipe Down – And Stick Down?
Second step is wiping out the surface of our keyboard. In order to wipe out the surface of our keyboard I recomend you to prepare a solution of warm water and isopropyl alcohol. In a little cup mix warm water with isopropyl alcohol in %50-50 amounts. And DO NOT use ethyl alcohol, it may damage your keyboard.
For wiping you can use a cloth or you can use a moisted hand wipe or you may prefer cotton swabs. I prefer using cloth and cotton swabs together. First dip a piece of your cloth to the water-isopropyl alcohol mixture. Just pay attention that your cleaning cloth isn’t soaked deeply in liquid. You wouldn’t like to get your keyboard wet and damage your keyboard circuit. You want your cloth moisted wet, not dripping wet.
Gently wipe down the surface of your keyboard with the moisted cloth. Make sure that all surfaces are cleaned up.
Take a web cotton swab after that and moist the swab with the water-isoprophyl alcohol solution after wiping down the surfce of your keyboard. Go down between the keys with cotton swab to clean all the sticky dirt. Make sure you got through all the tight spots.
Gel Is The Key For Continious Maintenance
Now let’s get to the second part of general surface cleaning. Actually this part is quite optional, but I always do it and it is my favourite cleaning method. You don’t need to exactly do this if you are not willing to, but it really makes everything easier and provides great hygiene of your keyboard. For this part of our surface cleaning, we’re going to need a cleaning putty (sticky gel).
This sticky gel – widely known as Cyber Clean – is meant to deeply clean the surface and inner sides of electronics by sticking and spreading to them. Well, not only electronics. It’s widely used everywhere from PC to cars, electronics to kitchen appliances. The great thing about it is that it not only deeply cleans your keyboard from dust,dirt and junk material, but it also sterilizes your keyboard. You just stretch it, lay on the desired surface, press it and pull it off.
I had the chance to use it myself and after using it I can comfortably say that it’s so easy to use and so practical that i’m in love with it. Now I’m using it everytime when I have to clean my keyboard. It doesn’t mean that you strictly need it to clean your keyboard and don’t think that I’m going promotional or advertising over here, because it was really the best variant for effective and easy keyboard cleaning. It is actually used very widely in many areas and is really a breath of fresh air. I’m presenting you a video about how to use the Cyber Clean Gel and it’s benefits:
Now I’m telling you the next task assuming that you have the cleaning putty (the Cyber Clean gel). If you don’t have one, I give you the link to the place where you can buy it:
Stretch your cleaning putty, put it on your keyboard, press and stick it. Then just remove it off. You will see that your keyboard area which was in contact with the gel has been cleaned and sterilised. It will engage with all the dirt between your keys and absorb them. You may roll the cleaning putty-gel up and use it again the same way until it has cleaned every spot, every nook and cranny of your keyboard. And you’re done! Clean as new.
It is the simplest and most effective way to barely clean your whole keyboard. You can easily repeat this process anytime you want in a really short time. Once in a week is ideal to do this. It will also prevent your keyboard from further draggle. It is always better to clean your keyboard in a regular basis than cleaning it once in a while. By doing that you won’t have to open up your keyboard every time and get into this extensive deep cleaning process. Just a few sticks in a week and you’re good.
And if you don’t have the cleaning putty, it’s not the end of the world. You can also clean your keyboard surface with hand wipes or moisty cloth. But Cyber Clean really eases the process and you can apply it anytime you want without disassemblying your keyboard, just to generally clean your keyboard in an easy way.
Two Is Always Better Than One
My best advice for general surface cleaning is to apply both methods mentioned above. This is what i usually do:
- First I shake out my keyboard to filter out all the easy removable dirt from it, then I wipe it down with a moisted hand wipe and swab with isopropyl alcohol then dry it.
- Apply the cleaning putty-sticky gel to all the surface of keyboard to deeply clean and sterilise. Then woila! First part of my keyboard cleaning ritual is complete.
If you repeat this process on a regular basis you can prevent your keyboard from serious draggle and intensive dirt storage which will result in failing buttons and a look which is not so appealing to the eye. And most of all, it will also greatly improve your personal hygiene. Just imagine all the surfaces you touch during the day, you are tranferring all those germs and harmful micro particles to your keyboard, which you are in contact with most of the time.
Second Part: Deep Cleaning
Now that we’ve cleaned the surface of our keyboard, we can continue our cleaning with a more intensive approach. Actually it also has elements of surface cleaning in it, but now things get serious. Our second part will be consisting of these actions:
- Pulling the keycaps
- Washing the keycaps
- Cleaning the tray / base plate
- Cleaning the switches
- Dry for 2-3 days
Remove The Keycaps
You would like to remove the keys of your keyboard and place them together to a place where they won’t get lost. By the way, I would recommend you to take pictures of your key placements not to mix the places of keys after the cleaning.
You can draw out a layout scheme of your keys or simply just photograph your keys’ places that you will look at later when you’re going to reinstall all your keys back to their places again.
To remove your keys I advice you to always use a keycap remover. I see around people using butter knifes or their hands to remove their keycaps, but it is pretty risky and you wouldn’t like to damage or break any of your keys. Believe me, it ain’t worth it. You wouldn’t like to use a keyboard where a key is seriously damaged or broken.
The simplest and safest way to remove your keycaps is to use a keycap remover. It’s an item which is so cheap yet so practical when it comes to removing keycaps. And by using a keycap remover you eliminate the risk of damaging the keys. I repeat, DO NOT USE ANYTHING ELSE INSTEAD OF A KEYCAP REMOVER. If you don’t have one, I’m giving you the link where you can get one easily.
Also I’m presenting you a video which shows how to remove keycaps with a keycap remover:
After removing all the keycaps we can proceed to the next step. This is actually very similar to the surface cleaning but it’s a little bit detailed and physically deep version of it. Some of you may find some of these steps boring and you aren’t obligated to do anything that I tell you here, but believe me, it’s the best and most effective way of cleaning. So let’s move to next step:
Have You Ever Heard Of Denture Tabs?
It may sound weird to you, but one of the best ways to clean your keycaps is denture tabs. Fill a cup or container with hot water and put your keycaps in it. Then drop 3 denture tabs.
If you don’t have any denture tabs, don’t worry. They’re so cheap and easy to get. Click here to get Anti-Bacterial denture tabs.
Be sure that all the keycaps are submerged in the water then close the container with a seal. Shake it about half a minute then let it rest for around an hour. You can continue cleaning your keyboard while your keycaps are resting.
After the completion of your keyboard cleaing session you can take your clean keycaps out, dry them and install them back to their places.
One more time apply air to the surface of your keyboard to remove all the dirt and junk from the plate of your keyboard. I have seen some pretty messed up keyboards and you can’t even imagine how dirty a keyboard can get.
You may not be aware of all that dirt inside your keyboard while the keycaps are installed but there is another dimension under them, and that dimension is not very appealing to the eye.
The best way to apply air is to use compressed air in a can. They’re pretty cheap to buy and work great on surfaces with dust-type little dirts, like keyboards. If you don’t have any compressed air, I provide you with source where you can get one.
If you wouldn’t like to use compressed air or you don’t have any change to buy it you can always use your lungs to blow the dirt away. But i always use compressed air and it’s way more comfortable, just my two cents.
Remove final remainings
You may still have some dust or stick that is hard to remove, so it’s time to use our water-alcohol mixture again. It will be much more easier this time because the keycaps aren’t installed now,which means you have a lot of space that you can work on. This time apply the solution to a cotton swab and clean through the surface of the keyboard plate. And pay attention to the mechanical switch parts, don’t skip them.
Some Lube Maybe?
You may have a sticky key problem where your key feels a little difficult to press. Just like it’s sticking to somewhere and can’t be pressed smoothly. If you are having this problem the best solution may be to lubricate the mechanical switch.
If you’re going to do this you’ll need your water-alcohol mixture and a lubrication.
This is the thing that you’ll do: Just drop one or two tiny drops of mixture to the problematic mechanical switch. Drop it right on top of the mechanical switch and make sure that the solution leaks into the mechanical switch gap. Press the switch a few times to make sure that solution is feeded well to the mechanial switch. After that repeat this for lubrication too. And that’s it!
Finally, It’s Over
Now that you have cleaned your mechanical keyboard inside out, it’s time to get our keyboard together.
Take your keycaps out from the container which was filled with hot water and dissolved denture tabs. Dry your keycaps and then install them back to their places. I think you don’t need any guide to do this. Just put them on the mechanical switch and press them. And woila! Now your keyboard is clean as new.
A little reminder – The DON’TS
Use dishwasher – This may sound a little od, but there really are people who wash their keyboards in a dishwasher. Well, I must give credit because there are some special seal type keyboards which are waterproof and approoved by the manufacturer, but washing even a waterproof keyboard in avdishwasher needs some balls of steel. It’s ot for the faint hearted and I don’t recommend doing it with any keyboard.
Use hairdryer – Keycaps are mostly made of ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene) material which is a plastic and can melt under temperature. ABS materials have relatively low temperature handling limits that you may melt your keycaps while srying them with a hairdryer.
Connect keyboard while it’ still wet – I think I don’t even have to mention that your keboard may short circuit if water leaks into the circuit of your keyboard. So be sure that your keyboard is completely dry before connecting it to electricity.
Use sticky material – Sticky material such as some cleaning liquids may not be the wisest choice. They may make your switches stickier and lead to sticking switch problems which are not so welcome.
High Pressure – High pressure can damage your keyboard circuit, so that’s why it’s better not to use vacuum cleaners with high suction pressures. Folks who are interested in science know that there is not only applied gauge pressure, but there is also vacuum pressure. This is where the vacuum cleaner comes into the picture.
How to Clean a Mechanical Keyboard – Conclusion
We have discussed the main aspects of keyboard cleaning with you. Now you know the necessary steps to fully clean your keyboard and the items you need to accomplish this task. Which means that now you have all the information you need about keyboard cleaning.
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