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How to clean a mechanical keyboard

Get that keeb looking fresh and clean.
By

Published onMay 30, 2023

Mechanical keyboards have been the gamer’s choice for years thanks to fast response times and tactile feel, but if it’s filled with Cheeto dust and hair it’s a completely different experience. To keep your keeb in tip-top shape, here are some tips on how to clean a mechanical keyboard.

How to clean a mechanical keyboard

Closeup of Mechanical Keyboard

First and foremost, you need to unplug your keyboard. Depending on the model, you may also be able to remove the cable entirely, which will make it even easier to clean.

You’re almost ready to start removing your keycaps, but before you do, make sure you have a reference photo of where the keys go. This is especially true if you’re using custom keycaps, as they may not match the manufacturer’s designs. Just snap a picture with your phone and keep it handy.

Using a keycap puller, remove each key individually. You can remove the keys without a keycap puller, but I highly recommend getting one if you value your keycaps and switches. You can get them for less than five dollars.

Place all of your keycaps into warm soapy water. You can use normal dish soap for this but don’t use anything too strong. Give them a little scrub with your fingers if they’re exceptionally dirty, then let them soak for at least half an hour.

While your keycaps are soaking, it’s time to clean your mechanical keyboard. Start by brushing off any large debris between the switches, then hit it with a bit of compressed air to knock any stragglers off your keyboard.

Next, use cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol to clear up any stuck-on debris. Remember that your keyboard is not waterproof, so use just a small amount of isopropyl alcohol, and do not pour it directly onto your keyboard. Once finished, let your keyboard dry before continuing.

Once your keycaps have soaked, take them out of the water and remove any excess water with a simple strainer. Then, leave them on a clean towel until they are completely dry.

When everything is dry, check your reference photo and press each key firmly down to reseat it on your keyboard. With all your keycaps back in place, plug your keyboard back in and make sure everything is working.

FAQs

You can use water to gently scrub your keyboard, but do not soak any part of your keyboard other than the keycaps once they have been removed. Doing so will likely break your keyboard’s PCB.

No, mechanical keyboards are not waterproof. Some may be water-resistant for spills and splashes, but you should never submerge a mechanical keyboard in water.

Yes, generally mechanical keyboards are easier to clean than membrane keyboards because of their removable keycaps.

Yes, it’s safe to clean your mechanical keyboard with isopropyl alcohol, rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, etc.