How to clean a dirty keyboard

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by computer_geek, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. computer_geek

    computer_geek Geek Trainee

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    Good morning everyone.

    As this is my first post ever on this forum, I wanted to make something interesting.
    I will therefore try to write an interesting and useful first thread, which, I hope, will answer some questions and create some new ones.

    (I would like to add, for administrators, that I have searched on the forum first, to make sure this topic doesn't exist already, and checked for the best category to put it in. However, if I am at the wrong place, or if this topic already exists, please let me know or move it.)

    My first thread is about Dirty Keyboards.

    Do you know that there are three categories of dirts on your keyboard?
    - Loose particles (dust, hair, pieces of bread and cookies, etc...)
    - Stains (coke, sauce, or any other liquid leaving traces on your keyboard)
    - Germs (bacteria, germs, viruses)

    First question:

    How to clean my dirty keyboard ? How do you guys clean your keyboard ?

    You must know that each kind of dirt requires a different kind of cleaning action.
    If loose dirts and stains sound pretty clear, what about germs?

    The presence of germs:

    You have to know that germs are not all dangerous. You have harmful germs (methicillin-resistant staphylococci, MRSA, Escherilia coli, etc...) as well as non-harmful germs (living on your skins and protecting it from other germs attack).
    Lets make it simple: some germs protect you, some make you sick.
    Therefore, the exact quantity of germs living on your keyboard is not a very interesting indicator, as it doesn't make distinction between harmful and non-harmful germs.
    Nevertheless, and more for fun than for scientific purpose, I let you try this test: How many germs and bacteria do I have on my keyboard ?
    It is important (even more for young people and old people) that you regularly disinfect your keyboard.

    A recent study shows that keyboards are more dirty (in terms of germs number) than an average public toilets seat. This is easily explained by the fact that public toilets seat would be cleaned once a day, and you most probably clean your keyboard once a year. Moreover, how many times do you clean your hands before using a keyboard ? How many people use your keyboard ? All those factors increase significantly the number of germs propagation on your keyboard (I won't communicate the link to this study, but by typing "keyboard + toilet seat" on google, you will find plenty of articles published on serious newspapers).

    How can I clean my dirty keyboard?

    We have seen earlier, there are three main kinds of dirt on a keyboard: loose particles, stains, germs.
    Sadly, there is no solution (as far as I know) to clean all three with one product.
    Here is a list of possible cleaning solutions:
    - vacuum
    - wet tissues
    - wet alcoholic tissues
    - cotton sticks
    - washing-machine
    - air-pressured can
    - cyber clean like
    - taking off all the keys, cleaning, building it back

    Each solution would clean one, mostly two of those dirts, but none would clean all.
    Lets review the best solution for each.

    Best solution to clean a dirty keyboard:

    Best solutions for removing loose particles from a keyboard:

    1. Cyber Clean: it goes in between the keys, and gets the dirt that other cleaners usually fail to reach. It keeps your hands clean, is easy to use, and trap the dirt. Biodegradable.
    2. Air-can: very efficient for removing lose particles, but spread dust and dirts all over the place. Moreover, pressured cans are bad for the environment and non biodegradable.
    3. Vacuum: pretty efficient, but doesn't really reach things under the keys, just particles around.
    4. Take off the keys or shake the keyboard: this is the worse solution, as it is extremely time consuming and risks to damage your keyboard
    5. Washing machine: this is an efficient solution, however, time consuming (it takes forever for the keyboard to dry), not accepted by all keyboard (you risk to kill yours), and absolutly impossible with laptops keyboards.

    Best solutions for removing stains from a keyboard:

    1. Wet alcoholic wipes: those are the most efficient and easy to find on the market (ie: AVAREX, Wet Ones, etc...). Those clean stains efficiently.
    2. Wet wipes: much less efficient than alcoholic ones, but also better for allergies suffering people.
    3. Simple cloth: with a little bit of water, soap, and efforts, it would remove any stain within minutes.
    4. Washing machine: for the same reasons as mentionned earlier, this is efficient, but not recommended.

    Best solutions for killing germs and bacteria:

    1. Cyber Clean: this product has a disinfecting power which kills germs and bacteria, even under the keys.
    2. Wet alcoholic wipes: alcohol contained in those wipes disinfect efficiently, but only on surface, as it doesn't go between the keys.
    3. Cloth with cleaning product: you can also use your own cleaning product, as glasses cleaning spray, but make sure that it disinfects, and that it won't damage your keyboard or erase the letters on the keys.

    Global conclusion for cleaning a dirty keyboard:

    1. Cyber Clean and Wet Alcoholic Wipes: this is the best combination for cleaning a keyboard. The Cyber Clean will trap the loose particles and disinfect under and in between the keys, and the wipes will removes stains and disinfect again on the keyboard surface.

    Any other combination is acceptable, as long as it brings the three solutions at once, and doesn't harm or damage your keyboard and health.

    I would suggest you to clean your keyboard at least once a month, as this is a very common way to spread germs all over your place. You must clean your keyboard as you clean your doors handles, your forks and knives, your cellphones, etc...

    I hope I answered some questions in this thread, and I would be more than happy to debate it or answer questions if any of you has !

    Thank you all, and hope to share another topic soon ! :p
  2. Karimbo

    Karimbo Geek

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    I'm a bit of a keyboard cleaning freak, and run cleans every 6 months or so, i unscrew the keyboard completely, and take all the electronics out, i remove the keys one by one, and the thoroughly clean out all the gunk with a used toothbrush while doused in soap powder.

    then i air dry and put it back together, you cant se your keyboard for about 8 hours and takes a bit of elbow grease to get it working, but it is the only way i've found to get the trapped dirt out, as the saying goes, if a jobs worth doing, its worth doing right
  3. henry222

    henry222 Geek

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    Wow, it will be easier and cheaper to buy a new keyboard (often £6 or less), than buy all that stuff - and your labour is surely worth £10/hr.

    FWIW, I never clean mine, I don't lick it, nor do I wear gloves, impregnated wipes etc aren't in the house.

    I have read that the way to keep keyboards clean (if you can be bothered), is to have two, clearly identified "odd" and "even" and each month you swap to the clean one...the other one is given a good showering with a sponge and then rinsed. Aftyer that it is shaken, turned-over and put in a heated "airing cupboard" which is enough to remove the remaining damp. After a month (or less, depends when you shower!), it will work as good as new and the effort has been rather close to zero. It also gives you a "spare" keyboard in cose you spill coke on it (this is particularly nasty, being acidic), so you should break out an "Emergency Keyboard"

    If your pc is used by children, they why not treat them to one each? - that way their sticky/jam covered fingers may be washed before the use the computer.

    You know it makes sense.

    Any infestations by mice and/or the like - The only lesson they recognise is a sharp blow with a hammer - they will never work again, try it.
    But if you are of a tidy personage, you need never be troubled with germs, although viruses are in the air we breathe and come up the wires I'm told... so hammer-blow all the wires and you should be safe.
  4. Karimbo

    Karimbo Geek

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    henry, i picked up a keyboard from tkmaxx for 3 quid, it was usb as well. it good as a spare, but i still need my igh end keyboard for lots of article writing though.
  5. HardwareHunter

    HardwareHunter Geek Trainee

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    what i normally do is use a vacuum cleaner. i dont know if that is a good idea but my keyboard is still ok to date. thanks for the added info.
  6. computer_geek

    computer_geek Geek Trainee

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    The problem with Vacuum is that it would remove dust and particles, but not the one hidden under the keys (except if your vacuum is super powerful), and wouldn't disinfect anything... that's like a "half" solution.

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