How to Clean Your Keyboard

July 6, 2022 • Shannon Flynn


Learning how to clean any keyboard is easy with a few everyday items. We’ve all been there – you’re typing and notice crumbs and debris are littering your keyboard beneath the keys. No matter the type of keyboard you have, this is bound to happen sooner or later. Cleaning a keyboard is easier than it might seem, though. 

How to Clean a Keyboard: Sticky Note Quick Clean

If you want to know how to clean a keyboard quickly, this tactic is for you. The easiest way to clean a keyboard is with a sticky note. This may not be a “deep clean” method, but it’s perfect for getting that one pesky hair or crumb out from under your keys. With this method, you don’t need to remove any keycaps from your keyboard or buy any special tools. 

Simply take out a sticky note and flip it upside down so the sticky end goes between your keys. Gently swipe it along the gap between the keys. You may need to press down a bit to get larger bits of debris to stick, but the sticky note won’t harm your keyboard. 

How to Clean a Keyboard: Deep Clean

The sticky note trick is an easy way to quickly clean between your keys. However, some may be wondering how to clean a keyboard when it has gotten very dirty, grubby, or gross. This is a little more involved, but still fairly easy to do. The important thing is to never use water. It will ruin your keyboard. Other tools are far, far safer and more effective. It is also a good idea to unplug or turn off your keyboard before doing a deep clean. 

1. Remove your keycaps

Removing the keys of your keyboard makes it much easier to give the keyboard a deep clean. Make sure to take a photo of your keyboard first so you know where all the keys go back on. There are a few ways to do this. Plastic or wire keycap pullers are a great universal tool for removing keycaps from any keyboard, though. If you don’t already have one, they can easily be found online for less than $10. 

Household items can sometimes be used to remove keycaps, as well. You can use an unwanted credit or gift card to pop the keycaps off, although you might end up breaking the card. For membrane keyboards, you can also use a spoon, although this is not recommended for mechanical keyboards. If you aren’t sure what type of keyboard you have, pay attention to the sound and feel – mechanical keyboards are much louder. 

2. Brush or vacuum keyboard

After your keycaps are off, it’s fairly easy to clean any keyboard. If you’re wondering how to clean a keyboard safely, though, the answer is gently. This is especially true if you have a mechanical keyboard. At this stage, you can use a few different cleaning tools, including a soft paint brush, a cotton swab, and a vacuum cleaner. Wipes and other wet cleaning products are not usually recommended. 

The best strategy is to use your soft bristle paint brush or cotton swab to sweep all the debris down to one end of your keyboard. A smaller brush will help you get into all the corners and edges. Just be gentle with the actual switches of your keyboard, the bumps that the keycaps go on. 

Once all of the crumbs and other debris are gathered at one edge of your keyboard, you can use a vacuum cleaner to gently suck it all up. Make sure to use the keyboard’s hose attachment to do this. Small handheld vacuum cleaners tend to work best for cleaning a keyboard. You can use a microfiber cloth to gently wipe away any leftover debris. 

3. How to clean a keyboard’s keycaps

The final step in cleaning a keyboard is cleaning the plastic keycaps and putting them back on your keyboard. The keycaps aren’t fragile, but you still want to be careful so you don’t scratch the paint on them. So, using something like a toothbrush to scrape off any tarnished keys is not a good idea. 

Most keyboard enthusiasts swear by denture cleaner for getting plastic keycaps cleaned up. You simply put all of your keycaps in a bowl of warm water with a bit of the denture cleaner and let them sit for about 5 hours. Afterward, remove them and dry them off. It takes a while, but it’s super easy. 

Once all the keycaps are clean and dry, you can put them back on your keyboard using the photo you took before removing them. Alternatively, if you have a mechanical keyboard or built your own, this is also a great time to put on a whole new set of keycaps for a fresh look. 

How to Clean a Keyboard From Start to Finish

Cleaning your keyboard is often easier than you might think. The best way to keep your keyboard clean is to set reminders to do regular smaller cleanings, such as once a month or every few months. With the right tools and process, you can keep your keyboard looking like new without damaging it.