Are You Properly Cleaning Your Computer's Keyboard? Here's How to Reach Between and Beneath the Keys
Keyboards are high-touch areas, which is why the spaces between the keys (and even under them) can become full of trapped dust and debris. And when you consider how many of us are guilty of eating our lunch or grabbing a quick snack while we're hard at work, you can imagine just how messy these spots can become over time. The good news is that cleaning them doesn't have to be a big project—armed with our easy steps, you can get your keyboard back to brand-new status in no time.
When dealing with larger debris, like crumbs, underneath your laptop's keyboard, try turning the machine upside down and giving it a very light shake, suggests Kevin Geick, a manager with Bio Recovery. He says you'd be surprised how much you can remove with the help of gravity alone. "Next, a can of compressed air should be able to remove remaining crumbs and even smaller particles, such as dust," he explains. "Just be careful not to go too deeply under the keys; components under the keys can be delicate."
Geick says his team follows the same method for standalone keyboards, as well, but note that key removal and replacement is another common approach. "If that's an option and the keyboard is particularly dirty, we'll do that—just be sure to use caution," he says, adding that when it comes to cleaning your keyboard, removing the keys should be a last resort. "Certain iterations are not meant to have their keys removed, so it's best to look up your specific brand before removing them."
If neither turning your keyboard nor using canned air does the trick, Geick says you can try to use cleaning putty to get deeper into the crevices. "These go by a few other names, as well, such as cleaning slime and gel, and are affordable," he explains. "Our last line of defense before removing keys would be a vacuum on a very low setting—again, to avoid any potential damage." After you've dislodged all of the dirt and debris, Geick suggests taking disinfectant wipes to the top of the keys to remove any grit that came out from hiding.
Beyond the usual dust and crumbs, Geick says your keyboard is likely harboring a tremendous amount of bacteria, as well. "All of these particles can not only pose trouble for the longevity of the keyboard, but for your overall health, as well, as many people tend to eat while using their computers," he says. "A general fact to remember is that your keyboard is most likely dirtier than your toilet seat, so while cleaning under the keys isn't totally necessary on a weekly basis, giving the exterior of the keyboard a light cleaning once per week is a good idea."