How to Clean a Mechanical Keyboard

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The popularity of mechanical keyboards has exploded in recent years, as gamers and enthusiasts quickly adopted the new trend. Superior performance, endless customization options, and excellent reliability are just some of the reasons why more and more people are choosing to go mechanical.

Unfortunately, with the improved longevity of mechanical keyboards and premium pricing, maintenance and cleaning are necessary. After all, aesthetics are important, and one of the reasons you decided to go mechanical and no-one wants to use a dirty, disgusting keyboard.

So, what is the proper way to clean your mechanical keyboard?

This is a quick guide that should help you get familiar with cleaning your mechanical keyboard. It is a simple and straightforward process that anyone can do. All it takes is a little bit of time and some general cleaning supplies. Don’t worry, this process will be efficient for both white mechanical keyboards and low-profile keyboards. Let’s get started!

Regular Cleaning is Crucial

The best way to avoid a lengthy detailed cleaning of your mechanical keyboard is to do regular maintenance cleaning. All you need is a vacuum cleaner, a damp cloth, and a soft brush.

As soon as you notice some minor buildup of dirt and debris on your keyboard, put a narrow attachment at the end of your vacuum cleaner and use it to vacuum up all the loose dirt and debris.

You might read or hear that some people recommend using compressed air for cleaning a mechanical keyboard. We strongly advise against this, as it might cause the dirt and debris to enter the key switches.

If there is any leftover dirt, use the soft brush to dislodge it from the keyboard plate, brush it away, or vacuum it. Finally, take the damp cloth and thoroughly wipe down the whole keyboard. By doing this regularly, you should decrease the need and frequency of detailed cleaning.

Removing all of the keycaps from A mechanical keyboard

Detailed Mechanical Keyboard Cleaning

No matter how tidy and clean you are when using the keyboard, every keyboard will get sticky and messy with heavy use. In those cases, quick, regular cleaning is not sufficient to get the keyboard clean.

Instead, try to use the following detailed cleaning process:

1. Unplug Your Keyboard

You want to avoid any potential shorts or issues while you are cleaning your mechanical keyboard. Unplug it from your computer and set it aside on a clean and spacious surface you will use for the cleaning.

2. Prepare Cleaning Supplies

You will need just a few basic cleaning supplies for the process, including cue tips, isopropyl alcohol, denture tablets or dish soap, damp cloth, soft brush, and a vacuum cleaner with a narrow attachment.

3. Remove the Keycaps

Start the cleaning process by removing all of the keycaps from your mechanical keyboard.

If you do not know the exact placement of all keycaps, make sure to take a photo with your mobile phone, as it will make the reassembly process much easier later.

Most mechanical keyboards ship with a keycap remover, a small tool that makes the keycap removal quick and easy.

4. Soak the Keycaps in the Cleaning Solution

Take a bowl or a similar object and fill it with warm water. Add the denture tablets into the bowl, or alternatively, use dish soap. Put the keycaps you have removed from the mechanical keyboard in the bowl and let them soak for at least 3 to 4 hours.

This should loosen up all the buildup and grime on the keyboard before rinsing them with clean water and a soft brush. Finally, remove the keycaps from the water and let them air dry.

5. Vacuum and Brush Away Loose Dirt and Grime

While your keycaps are soaking in the cleaning solution, use the vacuum cleaner with a narrow attachment to vacuum up all of the loose dirt accumulated on your mechanical keyboard. For more stubborn dirt stuck to the plate, use a soft brush to dislodge it and brush it away or vacuum it.

6. Time for Detail Cleaning

Open up the bottle of isopropyl alcohol and pour a small amount into a dish you will use to soak the cue tips in. Take a cue tip, soak it in isopropyl alcohol for a second or two, and proceed to clean the top plate of your mechanical keyboard thoroughly.

Never use water, as it might cause a short after you plug in the mechanical keyboard. Alcohol quickly evaporates and should not cause such issues.

7. Reattach the Keycaps

Once your keycaps are dry, you can use the picture you have previously taken as a guide to reattach them to the mechanical keyboard. It is an easy process and does not require any tools. Just take the keycap, place it over the mechanical switch, and press until the keycaps lock into place.

8. Wipe Down the Keyboard

Use the damp cloth to wipe down the whole keyboard. If you run into some tough stains or sticky buildup, use the cue tips and alcohol to get rid of it. And the cleaning process is done!

Conclusion

As you can see, cleaning the mechanical keyboard is a simple process that anyone can do with some effort and basic cleaning supplies.

There are also specialized cleaning solutions and products for mechanical keyboards in the market, but they can be pricey and will not necessarily do a better job cleaning the keyboard.

Andrew Smith