keyboard cleaning

Laptop keyboard, wireless keyboard, mechanical keyboard… Whatever keyboard you have, it is probably one of the most used items on your desk. But when did you last do some keyboard cleaning?

A study by British consumer not-for-profit Which? asked a microbiologist to test 33 keyboards from a London office in comparison to a toilet seat and a toilet door handle. Four keyboards out of the 33 tested keyboards were judged as potential health hazards. The dirtiest keyboard was tested to be 150 times over the acceptable bacteria limit, or 5 times filthier than the swabbed toilet seat.

Despite these biohazard risks, when 4,000 people were surveyed as part of the same study, at least 1 in 10 people (11%) never cleaned their keyboard, and almost half (46%) of the participants cleaned their keyboard less than once a month.

Keep your office space and your workers safe by encouraging regular – and often – keyboard cleaning and sanitising.

Not sure how to do it? Follow our handy guide for cleaning your keyboard in 6 easy steps below.

Keyboard Cleaning Tools

These are some of the most common cleaning tools you will need keep your keyboard clean. Keep them handy in an easily accessible spot in the office, and encourage your staff to have some on hand at home for their personal computers.

  • A can of compressed air
  • A mini vacuum cleaner or dust vacuum
  • Small brushes
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Cotton swabs
  • Wiping cloths

There are many small and delicate parts in the inner workings of a keyboard. Take care during your cleaning process to avoid accidental damage.

For a quick clean of your keyboard’s cracks and crannies, consider investing in a keyboard cleaning gel. These gels are similar to a slime toy but with a slightly more malleable consistency and a mildly adhesive effect. Use it by laying it across your keyboard and gently peeling it off to get rid of a lot of loose dirt, dust, and debris that has fallen between the keys.

Step One: Disconnect The Power Supply

Firstly, and most importantly, cut off the power from your keyboard before starting the cleaning process to ensure maximum safety and minimise any damages in case any accidents occur.

Unplug your keyboard if it is wired or connected to your computer. If it is wireless, remove the batteries if possible and switch off your computer to prevent triggering any functions by accident.  For cleaning a laptop keyboard, switch off and unplug your laptop.

Step Two: Shake the Dirt Out

Everything from dust to crumbs to even pet hair can be removed by giving your keyboard a good shake. Flip the keyboard upside down and begin to shake it firmly but gently.

Watch your surroundings to prevent knocking something over on your desk (or a stray co-worker passing by!)

If it is a laptop, hold the screen open with your thumbs while you support the body of the laptop. Be careful not to press into the actual screen display of the laptop! Maintain a strong grip on the laptop, especially for older or heavier models.

If shaking is difficult, using a small brush to gently sweep between the keys can be an effective alternative to shaking your keyboard.

Step Three: Use Compressed Air

Using compressed air can help you blast any stubborn pieces of dirt stuck between or underneath your keys. Cans of compressed air are easily available in most department or electronics stores.

To use it, attach the straw nozzle to the can. Aim the nozzle at the gaps in your keyboard, tilt the can to approximately 45 degrees, and sweep it along each crevice with small bursts of air. Keep the nozzle about 1-2cm above the keyboard at all times for best results.

Once you’ve done one side, rotate the keyboard and repeat this process from each side to really make sure you get as much dirt as you can out.

Step Four: Vacuum the Keyboard

For a more cost effective way to blast out the dust, a dust vacuum with a small nozzle or a keyboard specific vacuum could be a worthy investment for your office. The high suction power of the vacuum can help lift even the most stubborn particles (including the sandwich crumbs from months ago!).

Run the brush or the nozzle over the edges of the keys, reaching between them if possible. This should get under the keys and release any dirt wedged there. Before doing this however, ensure that none of the keys are loose or wobbly as they may get pulled into the vacuum cleaner along with the dirt.

Step Five: Isopropyl Alcohol Scrub

Once all the dust has been dislodged and removed, dampen a thin cotton swab or pad with isopropyl alcohol. Pinch the cotton between your fingers to remove excess liquid.

Very lightly, rub the swab between the keys to wipe away any grime, oil streaks, and other stains. You’ll want to swap out the cotton swabs as you wipe between each row of keys.

Try to avoid wiping the tops of the keys as you could take the paint off them by accident. For a laptop, since the keys are relatively flat, you will have to take additional care with each swipe of the cotton pad. Additionally, avoid dripping any alcohol underneath the keys as you clean as this may damage the inner workings of the keys.

Step Six: Isopropyl Alcohol Wipe

Finally, it is time to wipe the grime off the tops of your keys. Use a lint-free cloth to prevent new particles from falling underneath the keys you just cleaned. Glasses cleaning cloths or LCD screen cleaning clothes are perfect for this.

Slightly dampen your chosen cloth with diluted isopropyl alcohol. The ideal ration is 1 part isopropyl alcohol to 1 part water. Make sure that the cloth isn’t soaked and only mildly damp.

Begin wiping the tops of the keys very gently. Isopropyl alcohol can take off the paint from the tops of your keyboard, so you need to take care with this step.

Wipe the keys down a few times to ensure that you have successfully removed all the grime build-up from the tops of your keys. Whilst you’re at it, this could be the perfect time to swipe the cloth across your mouse too!

Life is like a keyboard, because if you press the right keys you have typed destiny.

Saba Shaikh

Too many steps in your busy day to follow? Do a quick wipe down of your keyboard and shake out the debris every so often will already go a long way to keeping your keyboard clean.

At Star PM, we can keep your office spotless, but keeping these personal, high-use items clean will go even further in maintaining the hygiene and health of your workers.