A laptop keyboard needs regular cleaning to remove grime, dust and dirt particles. It may also need cleaning if a drink spills on it or the keys are sticky. A clean keyboard translates to a nice looking laptop and a longer life. However, you should be careful when cleaning it so that you do not damage the keys.

It is recommended that you use a small portable vacuum cleaner with upholstery or a tiny brush as the attachment. This removes all the dirt and dust on the keyboard by sucking it up. It is not advisable to use a can of compressed air because it can blow the dirt and dust on the keyboard inside of the laptop.

Steps you can take to clean a laptop keyboard

  • Turn off the laptop. The first thing you should do before you start cleaning the laptop keyboard is to unplug it and turn it off. This will prevent you from damaging the laptop as you clean. Remove USB drivers, mouse and any discs that may be attached to the laptop.
turn off the power before cleaning a laptop keyboard
  • Clean the keys. You can clean the keyboard while keys are intact or if you are up to it, you can remove the keys. Note that you should only remove the keys if it is easy to return them based on the type of your laptop and if you have the knowhow of how to return them. Otherwise, just clean the laptop without removing the keys.
  • You can start by holding the laptop upside down and then tap it lightly at the back to remove the particles that may be hiding in the spaces between the keys.

How to clean a laptop keyboard with keys intact

You can clean the top of the keys using isopropyl alcohol, which you should soak in dust free cloth, a cotton swab or a soft cloth. Rub the keys gently using the cloth. Make sure that the alcohol does not drip into the keyboard. You may also wrap the wet cloth at the end of a teaspoon and then drag it along the keys’ edges to pick up dirt and dust.

You may also use a vacuum cleaner to remove the dirt.

On the other hand, you can use compressed air to clean the keyboard. However, you should know that it is not actually air but a chemical and you should be careful when handling it. Do not hold the can upside down when directing the air on the keys. You should tilt it at an angle while it is a few inches from the keyboard.

Cleaning while keys are removed

remove a laptops keys before cleaning

Before you remove the keys, find out if your laptop’s keys are removable. If they are and you have decided to remove them from the keyboard, get a knife, a flat head screwdriver or an object that looks similar and take out the keys gently. Be careful as you remove them because fragile plastics are used to hold them together and if you are rough, you may damage them.

Store the keys in a bowl or any other place where they will not be lost. You can leave the large keys such as the space bar, backspace and enter keys because they may be challenging to return. To clean the keys, add dish soap to lukewarm water and scrub them lightly.

Clean the touchpad and the rest of the keyboard using a damp cloth. You should use a cloth that does not shed fibers such as a cloth specifically for cleaning electronics, a handkerchief, an old t-shirt or a microfiber cloth. Dip the cloth in a solution of isopropyl alcohol and lukewarm water or put a drop of dish detergent in lukewarm water, or use hydrogen peroxide. Wring the cloth to remove excess liquid so that it does not drip into the laptop and damage it. Using the cloth, wipe the bare keyboard on top, bottom and sides.

If you are using an electronics cleaner, spray the cloth and then wipe. Do not spray it directly into the machine.

You can clean the pointer or the rubber in the middle of the keyboard by removing it and then dipping it in a cleaning solution. Remove any dirt using a toothbrush.

Allow the keyboard to dry

It is important to allow the keyboard to dry before using the laptop, especially if you used water in your cleaning.

If you did not remove the keys, give the keyboard time to dry. Leave the lid open. If you had removed the keys, put them on a table or counter and dry them with a cloth. Return them to the keyboard. Some keys require depressing the corners to return them to the keyboard while others have metal stands and only needs to be slid back to the rails.

You should never turn the laptop on or plug the power if it has not dried completely.

How to clean a laptop keyboard after a spill

cleaning a laptop keyboard after a spill

If the laptop has been spilled with water, cleaning it will require removing the keyboard or the keys from the keyboard. In some cases, you may be required to seek professional help or to consult the manufacturer’s manual.

Spilt drink may result in sticky keys. If you experience this problem, you should remove the sticky keys. In some cases, you should also remove the carriers. Clean the keys and the carriers by soaking them in a mild detergent, dish soap or plain warm water and allowing them to soak for a while after which you should remove and wipe them.

You should then clean the area on the keyboard by rubbing with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Allow the keyboard to dry by putting the computer facing upside down for about an hour and in case of a large spill, overnight.

Tips for keeping the laptop keyboard clean

how to clean a laptop keyboard

You can prevent some of the dirt and spills that can get to a laptop and therefore keep the keyboard clean.

  • Do not eat or drink while near the laptop.
  • Work from an area that has less dust.
  • In case you find a loose key after the cleanup, just depress its raised corner and it will get into place.
  • Dip the keys in alcohol for disinfecting only when necessary because alcohol can remove the print on some types of keys.