How To Clean Your Mechanical Keyboard

 

 

How To Clean Your Mechanical Keyboard

The best way to deep clean your mechanical keyboard is to remove each key carefully, putting your keys in a separate area in line with where they go on your keyboard, and take a compressed air blower to remove the dust off the base of the keyboard. If there are spots of dirt or stains, take rubbing alcohol and a q-tip and gently go in between each of the switches and around the board. If your keys are also dirty, you can gently clean them off with some mildly soaped water (not hot) and a towel.

If your computer desk is one of the main areas that you hang out during the day or evening, it is only a matter of time before something gets on your keyboard. Sometimes when you are deep in that raid or patiently collecting tracks for a monster, you don't want to take the time to move to the kitchen table and eat. Right? I know me and all my friends will grab snacks while we're playing a game, or will just eat at our desk in general. Maybe it's not the best habit, but when you spend so much time around your computer... it's bound to happen. Though, I do suggest watery items such as ramen or soup should be eaten further away from your pc or on a separate table. Your monitor will also thank you.

Pets can also be a nuisance, too (no matter how much we love them), when it comes to mechanical keyboards if your keys are set deep into the base of the keyboard. If you're lucky and you have one where the switches set on top of the base (like the Roccat Vulcan series), you can just blow the dust and dirt and hair away. Unfortunately, a lot of the keyboard models aren't that easy.

Basically, things happen. Things get dirty.

How To Clean Your Mechanical Keyboard


Step by Step Cleaning:


Quick Clean


If you just recently cleaned your keyboard, it doesn't hurt to just give it a quick blow and wipe down the keys gently with a damp (not soaking damp) towel or cloth. Preferably one that isn't super fuzzy/linty and will leave little friends. After this, I wouldn't touch it until you knew it was thoroughly dry. For the most part... when you accidentally spill a little water on your keyboard, you can flip it upside down and pray to the keyboard gods it will pull the water away from the circuitry and dry without any damage. I've been able to save a keyboard or two by doing that. Nalgene water bottles have become my best friend since I am rather clumsy, obviously. :)


Deep Cleaning


Lucky for you, I need to clean my own keyboard so I'll show you step by step what I do to get a sparkling clean board.


  1. Painstakingly take off every key. To me, I find this zen. I put on a good tv show, or whatever I wanna watch at the time. This time it'll be a CS ProLeague. On table with plenty of space, I begin my journey of taking one key after another off. Since not all keyboards are made the same, the keycap puller won't be either. With some of my Ducky keyboards I was able to use a picker like the red one shown in the photo below. However, my latest Ducky TKL and my Varmillo are too tight in spacing, so I have to use the thin stainless steel one. 

     

    How To Clean Your Mechanical Keyboard

    How To Clean Your Mechanical Keyboard

 (Be careful when taking your keycaps off. Make sure that your puller is firmly planted on both sides/corners of the keycap. If you're pulling a longer one, like the space bar, pull one side first then the other.)

 

  1. Once all of the keys are off and you've put them on the table in the same arrangement they were on the keyboard (trust me this saves you a lot of time rather than just setting them aside). You should blow off the dust and dirt. I personally use a high powered electric duster because it does a better job and it's environmentally friendly. As you can see, I blew this Ducky off (outside because it's loud and I don't want the remnants in the keyboard in my room). It's still not completely clean, especially with cat hair. Pet hair gets everywhere in a keyboard. If you are like me, it's not necessarily a bad idea to take some tweezers and remove what I can. 

     

    How To Clean Your Mechanical Keyboard

     

    How To Clean Your Mechanical Keyboard


     

     
  1. Now, more tedious work. To continue to deep clean your keyboard, it's time to break out the q-tips and the alcohol. 70% to 90% Rubbing Alcohol is what you should be cleaning your keyboard with. Do not use a cotton ball! Use q-tips! I have actually found that using q-tips designed for makeup, with the pointed tip, work much better.

      1. Take your q-tips out, go ahead and have them ready.

      2. Pour some of your rubbing alcohol in either a small bowl or just in the cap of the container. If it's full enough, you can just dip the q-tip in.

      3. And then gently swipe around! Don't use the same q-tip for the entire board. Grab one, dip, swipe, toss. Switch ends of the q-tip and repeat. You'll know when to toss it.

      4. I tend to wipe some alcohol around the edges of the board too. Then voila. Clean board!  


        How To Clean Your Mechanical Keyboard




How To Clean Your Mechanical KeyboardHow To Clean Your Mechanical Keyboard



  1. We aren't done yet! But getting there! Next step is to take those keys and give them a good wiping.

      1. Move your keyboard to a safe area! A bowl of water next to your open unprotected switches is dangerous. Take it to a safer area, that way you have more room to clean your keys, too.

      2. I use a wee bit of mild soap, and some luke warm, on the edge of cold, water (I use Seventh Generation). Do not ever use hot water. I take a bowl, mix in the water and the soap.

      3. Take a towel, dip a small part in the water and gently clean a key.

        * I usually do not need another towel to dry my keys off because I'm not drenching them. I typically let them air dry. The water is a little soapy, not enough to leave a residue. I don't put them in the bowl, but you totally can! I definitely suggest this if you know your keycaps need some extra love. You will definitely want to make sure they are 100% dry before applying them.

And that's it. 

 




This may not be the way that everyone cleans their board, and that's okay. This was how I was taught by my genius brother. It's long. It's annoying. But at the end I have one super clean board that I can just get dirty again ;). It's not necessary to do this every time, but it is good to do after a couple or months, or more depending on how much you're around your keyboard. If you're like me and have a cat that sleeps next to you as you game all the time, probably wise to do it more frequently.

As an extra little tip, if you want to clean your switches, you can use the rubbing alcohol, too. Put some on a nice round q-tip and then press it down on the switch. Press the switch gently a couple of times to distribute the alcohol. If you spilled something on your keyboard, you may be able to salvage it with this tip, depending on how badly it was covered. 

 How To Clean Your Mechanical Keyboard

This Dishwasher Fiasco

So... I want to address this 'cleaning your mechanical keyboard in a dishwasher' thing. I know a lot of people have been testing this theory - put it on the top rack, cold water, etc. They claim it works, but I am not especially moved by this tactic. The amount of things that could go wrong are endless.

My thoughts - absolutely not. I destroyed my Corsair by spilling a glass of water on it. Yeah, I know, I've had bad luck with the first couple of mechanical keyboards I owned... Regardless, that glass of water (also the thing dishwashers use) took it out of commission.

The thought of putting my entire keyboard into the dishwasher is terrifying and expensive. If there is a warning of 'make sure you have an extra keyboard just in case'. Why is this a good idea? If you think about the way that a mechanical keyboard is made and then think about putting it in the dishwasher? 

If you've done it before and successfully, I'm curious to hear what brand you used and how long it's lasted afterwards. 

For me, personally, and for what I will forever tell my friends and family - you clean that keyboard by hand. Bond with your keyboard. Let you and your keyboard become one.


 

Good luck and have fun!



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