How to Clean a Mechanical Keyboard

People buy mechanical keyboards for all sorts of different reasons, each valid in their own way. Most commonly, however, people who own mechanical keyboards will say that they feel far superior to regular keyboards when typing and gaming, and that they are liable to last a lifetime with the proper care.

Since caring for your expensive mechanical keyboard is so important, you should know how to do it correctly. In this detailed guide, we will be going over every aspect of cleaning your mechanical keyboard properly in various situations. It will take some time and effort, but it will be worth it in the end, for sure. With that in mind, let us get started.

Regular cleaning

The importance of cleaning your mechanical keyboard regularly cannot be overstated. Most people eat at their computer desk, which means that crumbs, bits of food, or even sauces and dressings can sometimes find their way into the grooves between the individual keys on your keyboard.

Even if you don’t eat at your computer desk, there is still a lot of dust as well as hair that accumulates in there, so the keyboard gets filthy regardless. On top of that, some people (like the author of this guide) have especially sweaty hands, so a lot of nasty grime builds up on the keys quickly.

So, for the purposes of regular cleaning without much effort going into it, there are a few basic steps that you should follow to end up with a keyboard that is not necessarily spotless, but not filthy either.

1.Vacuum the keyboard

In order to pick up all of the accumulated dust, crumbs, hair and other unsavory particles between the keys of your keyboard, you should first unplug the keyboard from your computer (for safety purposes, though this step could conceivably be done even with the keyboard plugged in), and then take out your vacuum cleaner with the brush attachment affixed to the hose.

The brush attachment is usually used to clean up corners of your floor which the regular attachment can’t get to, but it is also perfect for this use as well. If you have one of those small USB vacuums designed specifically for the purpose of cleaning keyboards, now would be the time to use it.

Whichever device you use, make sure you get in between all the keys as much as possible, because the dirt will try to hide from you under neighboring keys, but you can’t let it win! This step is only useful for getting out the dirt that hasn’t fused to your keyboard, so the next step is designed to get rid of all the sticky stuff that’s accumulated on top of your keys.

2.Wipe down the keyboard with a damp cloth

As opposed to the first step, this step should not be done while the keyboard is plugged into the computer since it involves water. As we know, water and electricity don’t mix, so don’t even try this without unplugging your keyboard.

For this step, you need a regular household microfiber cloth, preferably a clean one, that has been dabbed with some water. However, cleaning sprays can also be used for this step, to great effect, as the grime will come out more easily due to the soaps and chemicals contained in the cleaning spray.

Use the cloth to go over every key individually, pressing down as though you were trying to sand it down. The grime that accumulates on top of keyboard keys can be quite stubborn, so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get it all off using this method.

3.Dry it off with a dry cloth

Once you are satisfied that you’ve gotten off all the grime you could, the next step would be to dry the keyboard off with a dry cloth. For this purpose, an ordinary cloth will do, it doesn’t have to be a microfiber cloth.

This step is important, since the water or cleaning spray you used can dissolve the accumulated grime, but if you just leave it on the keyboard, the water will just evaporate, and some of the grime will still be there, as though you hadn’t cleaned your keyboard at all.

Advanced Cleaning

Once you find yourself with the motivation to clean up your act after a prolonged period of pigging out on a regular basis, why not go for a full-on keyboard cleaning with disassembly? Let’s look at how exactly you can go about doing that.

As previously mentioned, the simple steps for cleaning your keyboard regularly are unlikely to be enough to get every little bit of grime off your keyboard. In order to do that, you need to take the keyboard apart, clean it, and put it back together again.

1.Remove the keys

Almost all mechanical keyboards come packaged with little pincers which are used to pluck out the keys from a mechanical keyboard. They were designed for exactly this purpose, so it is about time you used them.

Make sure you unplug your keyboard before using the key removers to pluck out every single key on the keyboard individually.

The author’s advice on this matter would be to take a picture of your keyboard before doing this so that you can know the exact layout of every key once the time comes to put them back in their place.

2.Soak the keys in denture tablets or dish soap

Once the keys are out, put them all in a big bowl with some lukewarm water and a denture tablet. Denture tablets are the perfect choice for cleaning keys, since they dissolve oils and dust, and sterilize the keys as well.

3.Clean the plate with a brush

While the keys are soaking, take the opportunity to clean the keyboard plate with a stiff-bristle brush, to get all the dust and grime out. Try not the hit the switches with the bristle, since this can push dust deep inside, which will make it impossible to get out later.

4.Put it back together again

Once your keys are done soaking, you can leave them out to dry, or manually dry them yourself (the author uses a hair dryer for this purpose). The dry keys should be put back into place according to the picture you took of your keyboard. If you did everything correctly, you should have a perfectly clean and functional keyboard at your fingertips at the end of this step, with all the keys in the right place!

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