How to Clean a Laptop Keyboard Safely?

The keyboard in your laptop may seem clean at first glance, but you’d likely be horrified if you saw what’s inside. Crumbs, dirt, hair, debris… All of that lives beneath the keys in your keyboard. The result? An unsanitary working environment, of course. But what else?

The truth is, your keyboard will simply stop working well if you leave it to gather dirt for too long. You may already be noticing the results of this if you’re having problems with jammed keys on occasion. However, cleaning the keyboard in your laptop is not as easy as it might sound, as it’s gentle and requires a lot of care.

Are you unsure how to clean a laptop keyboard? Don’t worry about a thing. There are many ways to master the art of cleaning a keyboard, and we’re here to share these methods with you. Keep reading to get rid of all those nasty germs in a way that won’t damage your laptop!

What is the Best Way to Clean a Keyboard?

When it comes to cleaning the keyboard on your laptop, the main tip we can give you is to play it safe. Avoid too much moisture seeping into the inside of your device, don’t use the wrong type of product, and be gentle as you clean individual keys. But is that it? Definitely not!

There are several methods that will help you refresh your keyboard and make it run like it’s brand new. We will cover each and every one in our comprehensive guide below.

Before You Begin

Before you get started, it’s important that you follow our safety tips. A laptop is an expensive piece of electronics, so you need to be extra careful to ensure you don’t damage your computer or your files. Fortunately, if done correctly, keyboard cleaning is perfectly safe. Check out our tips to make sure you do it right.

  • Clean some space for your laptop to be on. It should be an even surface, covered by something to prevent any further dirt from making it into your computer. Some paper towels will do fine.
  • Back up your data. It’s not necessary, but this is something you should be doing regularly, so now is a good time.
  • Unplug your laptop COMPLETELY. This equals, of course, unplugging it from its power source, but also removing any USB cables, etc. Leave nothing but the laptop itself.
  • If you know how to do it safely, remove your laptop’s battery and place it away from your cleaning station.
  • Open the lid on your laptop, then turn it upside down and lightly pat the bottom of the device. You will be able to remove some of the lodged debris just by doing that.
  • Wash your hands and dry them with paper towels to avoid static.
  • Reserve some time for this task. Cleaning a laptop keyboard is a meticulous task that won’t be done too quickly. We recommend setting aside at least 30 minutes.

What You Will Need

There are several things you can use to get rid of all the gunk built-up beneath the keys. We will cover more than one method, so you’ll be able to adjust your preparations once you pick one. However, it’s always best to have more than one option available just in case it’s needed.

We recommend preparing the following to clean your laptop:

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  • Microfiber cloth (or linen — it has to be static-free)
  • Strong paper towels
  • A can of compressed gas
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Room temperature water
  • Some cotton balls
  • Bleach-free wet wipes, such as Windex

It will suffice if you prepare just one of the cleaning solutions. As an example, a can of compressed air + a microfiber cloth should be enough. On the other hand, it’s better to be safe than sorry — pick up as much as you can. This will help you perform a really thorough clean on your laptop.

Basic & Quick Cleaning

This is the type of cleaning you should perform regularly. If you do, you may find that deep-cleaning the laptop will not be necessary, and if it ever is, it’ll be over quickly.

Maintaining sanitation is especially important now when we are all extra cautious about keeping our hands clean. As your keyboard may very well be a source of all kinds of gems, you should disinfect it often, even if it looks fine on the surface. We recommend that you clean your keyboard like this once a week, or even more if you want to be extra safe.

  1. Once you’ve completed the preparation steps, turn your laptop upside-down and gently shake it. Do this several times, patting the bottom of the device.
  2. Next, use a wet wipe or a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). Gently, but thoroughly, wash each and every key.
  3. Try to get into the spaces between the keys too, but be careful not to pry them apart.
  4. Clean the touchpad — make sure that you don’t apply too much moisture to it.
  5. Afterward, wash every part that your hands often touch, such as the sides and the front of the laptop.
  6. Use a cloth to wipe off all the moisture and leave the laptop out to dry completely.

This kind of cleaning will disinfect the keyboard and remove any viruses or germs that may lurk on the surface. However, it does little to rid you of the debris beneath the laptop keys.

Can I Use Alcohol Wipes to Clean My Laptop Keyboard?

Alcohol wipes are fine to use on your laptop. If you’d like to use wet wipes instead of isopropyl, you can pick up a pack of pre-moistened wipes and clean the keyboard and the laptop without any issues.

Thorough Cleaning

Did you know that many people use compressed air to clean their electronics, including laptops? It does a great job of flushing out all the dirt, crumbs, and other debris commonly found in keyboards. It’s also helpful for clearing computer fans, which tend to get dusty.

While it is very effective, be careful not to apply too much pressure to your keyboard, or you may damage it. The air comes out in very strong spurs. Moreover, don’t apply it too generously. A little bit goes a long way.

  1. Start by performing the steps from our Basic & Quick Cleaning section.
  2. Next, tilt the laptop to hold it sideways, with one side of the keyboard touching the desk.
  3. Make sure you always hold the can of compressed air upright. If you spray it upside-down, the propellant may get into the keyboard and damage not just the surface, but the components inside your laptop.
  4. Start spraying in bursts that last a few seconds. Spray it in between the keys. Tilt the computer further to the side to allow the debris to fall out.
  5. Repeat this a few times if needed.
  6. Once you’re satisfied with the result, once again hold your computer facing down and give it another shake. This will dislodge all the remaining dirt.
  7. Set the computer down and wipe down the keys with a clean microfiber or lint-free cloth.
  8. Let it dry completely, as compressed air tends to leave a bit of moisture behind.

Grime, Germs & Oily Stains Removal

Removing debris from beneath the keycaps is one thing, but it’s often the keys themselves that are dirty. This is especially common if you like to eat at the computer. Oily fingers leave stains that water alone won’t remove.

Germs and viruses are other things entirely. In this day and age, it’s more important than ever to disinfect the keyboard. That’s why we recommend the use of isopropyl. It evaporates quickly, leaves no moisture behind, and it kills germs and viruses.

  • Again, start with our Basic & Quick Cleaning steps.
  • Next, apply some of the rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball. Don’t overdo this — it should be just enough for it to be moist but not soaked.
  • Clean the keys one by one, then the surrounding area. Swap cotton as needed.
  • If you want to also clean between the keys, dip a cotton swab in isopropyl and run it along the sides of every key.
  • To go one step further, you can use disinfectant wipes all over the surface.
  • Lastly, wipe your keyboard with a slightly damp microfiber cloth, and then again, with a dry one.

How Can I Clean My Laptop Keyboard Without Keys?

Most of the maintenance your keyboard requires is done without ever removing the keys. In fact, some laptops don’t even have removable keycaps. However, if your keys are acting up, it’s possible that a crumb or some dirt has gotten stuck beneath them. Sometimes, not even compressed air can fix that issue and you may be forced to remove the keys.

Before you get right to it, please read our tips to ensure that you do not damage your computer. Replacing an external keyboard is cheap in comparison to replacing one on your laptop. If you’re wondering how to clean a laptop keyboard without keys, keep reading.

Preparing to Remove Laptop Keys

  • Remember that removing the keys should only be done when it’s absolutely necessary. Seeing a few crumbs here and there should not force you to do this.
  • First, you need to determine the make and model of your laptop. If you don’t remember, this is usually written on the bottom of the laptop. Alternatively, check receipts or search for the brand online.
  • Once you know the model of your computer, search for that exact model on the internet. Put in all the necessary research to check whether the keys are removable or not.
  • If you’ve confirmed that you can remove the keys, you can also look for tutorials for your specific computer. However, most keys are removed the same way: you need to gently pry them off.
  • Check any possible instruction manuals for your device.
  • Before you start removing the keys, take a picture of your computer. This will help ensure that you put the keys back in the same place when you’re done.

How do I clean under my laptop’s keyboard?

Once you’ve completed our safety steps, here is how to clean a laptop keyboard with the keycaps removed.

  • Pry off the keys you need to (or all of them, in extreme cases) using a small, flat tool. Metal is safer than plastic, as the plastic may break off if you apply too much force. Simply stick the tool beneath the key and gently pry upwards. The keycap should come off without issues.
  • Alternatively, if you don’t want to risk it with unauthorized tools, you can buy a keycap puller.
  • Once the keycaps have been removed, place them in a safe spot, and start cleaning beneath the keys.
  • Wipe the empty spaces with a damp microfiber cloth or a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Remember that everything should be slightly damp at the most — you don’t want any liquid to seep into the insides of your computer.
  • Dry the area with a lint-free cloth.
  • Replace the keycaps by placing them over their designated spaces. Make sure everything is properly aligned.
  • Start with the bottom edge of the key and then press it down. You will hear a soft click and it will pop into place.

How to Clean the Laptop Screen?

Now that your keys are all sparkling clean, you glance at the screen, and what do you see? Most commonly, the screen may have some stains or even just a built-up layer of dust. It’s probably time to clean your laptop, especially the screen. Let’s jump right to it.

  • If your laptop has some dust issues, all you need is to use a lint-free cloth and wipe it all over the screen. Ensure not to let the dust fall inside your keyboard. We recommend side-sweeps as opposed to top to bottom.
  • For stains, you’ll need to clean more thoroughly. Turn off your computer and unplug it just to be safe.
  • Next, pick up some lens & screen wipes and begin washing the screen.
  • You may sometimes need to do this more than once if the stains are stubborn.
  • Make certain that you don’t leave any smudges behind — go over smudged areas again until everything is clean.

Remember to let the screen dry fully before you plug your computer back in.

Conclusion

If you were wondering how to clean a laptop keyboard, we hope we’ve answered your question. Keep in mind that regular maintenance goes a long way in keeping your computer healthy. Try not to allow any dirt to get beneath the keys in the first place, and once it does, be quick to get rid of it. You’ll thank yourself later.

Don’t hesitate to clean your laptop if it’s time to do so. Try out different methods, be gentle, and don’t hesitate to consult a professional if your laptop’s model doesn’t support removing the keycaps. With a little bit of patience, your keyboard will soon be shiny & almost brand new!

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