How To Clean A Gaming Keyboard Properly (And Maintain It)

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We do a lot of things at our computers, whether we like to admit it or not, which can lead to some unsightly dirt and grime build-up from snacks, drinks, etc.

This is why it’s incredibly important to know how to clean a gaming keyboard – after all, no one likes to type on a crumb-filled, dusty keyboard!

This is especially important if you own a white gaming keyboard, or use white gaming keycaps, or any coloured keycaps for that matter, you will want to maintain them as much as possible.

If you’re a little lost on where to get started with the cleaning process, then read on!

Precautions

Before performing any sort of cleaning, there are some things that you need to keep in mind and some advice you need to follow:

  • Be sure to unplug your keyboard before cleaning
  • Take care when using isopropyl alcohol – sometimes it can cause discolouration, especially if used on UV-coated keyboards
  • Test cleaning products on the back of your keyboard first – this is to make sure that, in the case of a product causing damage, it’s not visible
  • Make sure your keyboard dries fully before plugging it back in

Prevention

How to clean a gaming keyboard: use the right products.

The best way to keep your keyboard clean? Prevent it from getting dirty in the first place.

Daily preventative cleaning will help make the deep cleaning process that much more easy and keep your gaming and typing experience as smooth and sticky-key-less as possible!

Want to know how to clean a mechanical keyboard without removing the keys? There are four main ways:

  • Turn it upside down – most larger particles should fall out of the keyboard by themselves
  • Vacuum – you can use a vacuum (preferably handheld) to suck up any dust on the keyboard’s plate by gently pressing the vacuum’s tube against the keycaps and targeting each key
  • Compressed air – you can use compressed air to blow dust out of those hard-to-reach places without needing to dismantle your keyboard – just be sure to blow the air sideways, and don’t spray too close to the surface, as condensation can form from the cold air.
  • Wipe down – you can use a slightly damp microfiber cloth to gently wipe the keyboard down

Maintenance Cleaning

Though preventative cleaning is great for getting rid of most daily dirt, you do need to do a bit of maintenance cleaning on your entire keyboard now and then.

Here are some general steps to follow to help you clean your keyboard:

  1. Unplug your keyboard – always important!
  2. Remove keycaps using a keycap puller
  3. Soak your keycaps in a solution of warm water and two denture tablets – this will help to remove built-up oils (dish soap works well, too)
  4. Loosen debris stuck on the plate – this can be donewith a dry cotton Q-tip or stiff-bristle brush
  5. Vacuum – this will remove the loosened debris, along with any other dust and dirt
  6. Replace (dry) keycaps
  7. Wipe down – as before, use a slightly damp microfiber cloth
  8. Dry completely with another cloth

How to Clean Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Switches can be a bit tricky to clean sometimes since they’re so small and oddly-shaped, but it’s definitely not impossible!

First you should remove your keycaps, and then use a Q-tip soaked in warm water to gently scrub away any dirt in the crevices or inner walls of your switches

How to Clean Sticky Mechanical Keyboard Switches

To clean sticky mechanical keyboard switches, you can either use the above Q-tip method (except with a Q-tip soaked in isopropyl alcohol), or you can use the straw method.

The straw method involves picking up a bit of near-hot water in the tip of a drinking straw, then dropping it on your switch and rapidly pressing your switch to move the water around.

This will help to clean up any sticky residue.

Check out the video further in this article for a visual demonstration of this method!

General Cleaning

A lot of different things apart from dust can accumulate on your keyboard, and some grime is trickier to get rid of than others – so you need to make sure you know how to clean it properly!

Grease

Grease, whether from your fingertips or your takeaway from last night, can accumulate rather easily on your keyboard.

The good news? It’s rather simple to get rid of!

You can dip either a microfiber cloth or a Q-tip in an isopropyl alcohol solution, and then gently wipe down your keys/between your keys to clean the keyboard and remove as much of the grease as possible.

If you need to remove some keycaps to reach some more inaccessible areas, you can easily do so with a keycap puller.

Sticky Spills

Every one of us can be clumsy at times, which can often manifest in the form of an accidental bump against an unfortunately full glass – thus spilling sticky soda all over our mechanical keyboard.

But don’t fret just yet! There are a couple of steps that you can take to save your mechanical keyboard:

  1. Unplug your keyboard.
  2. Turn the keyboard upside down and try to shake out as much liquid as possible.
  3. Wipe up as much of the mess as you can, either with a cloth or paper towels.
  4. Let it dry – this can take a couple of days; be patient!
  5. Remove the keycaps – it’s best to use a keycap puller for this
  6. Wash the keycaps with warm water and dish soap, and let dry completely
  7. Clean tray with a microfiber cloth and near-hot water – if water doesn’t remove the sticky residue, then use a solution of isopropyl alcohol instead
  8. Use cotton Q-tips soaked in water/alcohol – these can be used to get into the smaller crevices of the keyboard and to clean the switches
  9. Leave to dry again

Here is a comprehensive video that outlines each step in more detail:

If you feel confident enough, you could even desolder your keyboard’s switches and clean them individually, though be warned – this process could be very tricky and time-consuming!

Water Marks

Water marks can often accumulate on your keyboard if, for example, you wash it with water and then leave the water droplets to dry by themselves.

One of the best ways to avoid this is to give your board a pat-down with a towel to remove most of the water droplets, and then leave it to dry the rest of the way by itself.

If you already have water marks, just repeat the cleaning process and then follow the above advice.

If you need a quick fix, however, then wiping down with a cloth damp with isopropyl alcohol solution works just as well.

Deep Cleaning

Sometimes mechanical keyboards are too grimy for a typical maintenance clean to revive them, and this may seem like a hopeless situation – but we have just the guide for you!

Deep cleaning takes a little bit of effort, but it’s well worth it to get a mechanical keyboard that looks like it’s fresh out of the box.

Here is a general step-by-step guide telling you how to clean a mechanical keyboard thoroughly:

  1. Unplug your keyboard
  2. Remove your keycaps
  3. Clean your keycaps in a denture tablet and water solution (if you really need an extra push, consider using an ultrasonic cleaner)
  4. Disassemble your keyboard
  5. Gently loosen particulate matter – we recommend you use a stiff-bristle brush for this; this will allow you to be able to vacuum up more debris
  6. Vacuum the inside – using a brush attachment may be best
  7. Gently scrub the case halves (IF THERE ARE NO ELECTRONICS ATTACHED) – you can use a stiff-bristle brush dipped in a dish soap solution to do this
  8. Clean up any mess with a Q-tip or cloth – you can either dip these in water or in isopropyl alcohol
  9. Leave to dry fully
  10. Reassemble the keyboard

Summary

We hope that you have found our guide on keyboard cleaning and the correct methods for cleaning keyboards helpful – you should now be ready to go back to your gaming keyboard and give it the love and care it deserves!

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