How to clean and maintain your Mechanical Keyboard

How to clean and maintain your Mechanical Keyboard

You’ve done your research, compared them all, and finally settled on a new mechanical keyboard that offers a great experience. Great! Buying a new mechanical keyboard, however, is just the beginning. It’s important to clean and maintain your new keyboard to keep it going for a long time in good condition. But like a lot of other peripherals, it’s not particularly easy to keep your keyboards clean at all times. Between greasy fingers, sweaty palms, and dust particles (to name a few culprits) your brand new keyboard can quickly turn into a dusty, grimy mess. So in this article, we’re going to tell you how to clean and maintain mechanical keyboards and keep them squeaky clean.

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It’s recommended you perform a quick clean-up of your keyboard at least once a week. Even a quick wipe with a microfiber cloth will do, but it’s recommended you do it as often as you can. Besides that, we also recommend properly cleaning your keyboards once every few weeks. The gap between your cleanups can be increased or decreased depending on factors like dust accumulation, how much hair/skin you shed, whether you have pets, how much food you eat while sitting at your PC, and so on. So what kind of clean-ups are we looking at?

Simple Cleaning

Keyboard maintenance and cleaning Corsair K100

There are a couple of ways to clean your mechanical keyboard, but let’s take a look at the simple cleaning technique first. It’s recommended that you disconnect the keyboard every time you’re about to perform any kind of clean-up to avoid accidental key-presses, putting the cable, among other things. When it comes to simple cleaning, you’re essentially just removing the dust, crumbs, hairs, or other debris that settles on the keyboard surface, and under the keycaps.

You can use a simple air blower to blow off the particles or loosen the debris that may have settled. Now, gently shake the keyboard after turning it upside-down will also make the loose debris fall off the surface. It’s also advised to be extra careful when using compressed air from a can, as there are cases when it can lead to the formation of condensation that can damage some metallic parts on the keyboard.

    A simple dust blower can be used to remove dust and debris settling under the keys.

You can also use a cleaning brush to remove any particles that are stuck under the keycaps or corners that are hard to reach. To remove sweat stains and smudges, especially ones on the keys or wrist rest of the keyboard, use a clean damp cloth to wipe them off. And that’s pretty much it when it comes to simple cleaning. It may not be enough if you haven’t cleaned your keyboard in months, but a simple cleaning process is enough to make it look like you’re organized. We highly recommend following a simple cleaning process like this at least once every week to avoid getting the accumulation of dust particles, food, hair, and other debris over time.

    This brush kit is great for cleaning all sorts of PC parts and peripherals.

Deep Cleaning

Now, if you’re somebody who hasn’t cleaned their keyboard in a very long time, or you accidentally dropped some food or anything that’s not supposed to be dropped on a keyboard, then it’s time for some deep cleaning. The first thing you need to do is remove the keycaps from the board. You can do that by using a keycap puller, a cool that’s usually bundled with a lot of keyboards. If yours didn’t come with one, then use the link below to buy one from Amazon. The keycaps should easily come off without having to use excessive force. Be more careful while removing larger keys like Spacebar, Enter, Backspace, etc. as they tend to have a stabilizer for support.

    The tool helps in taking out keycaps from your keyboard easily and safely.

It’s also a good habit to organize the keycaps as you remove them. Alternatively, you can also take a picture of the keyboard layout before taking the keycaps off. This will allow you to easily reassemble the keycaps once you’re done cleaning.

Once you’ve removed all of them, clean the entire deck using a cleaning brush, an air blower, or a vacuum cleaner. If you spilled something on the keyboard in the past like coffee or soda (hopefully not), use a damp cloth to wipe off the stains. For more stubborn stains, we recommend using isopropyl alcohol. Make sure you don’t use any liquids directly on the keyboard; rather apply some directly onto a cleaning cloth. This is to ensure that no liquid enters the internals, which could potentially damage the PCB permanently. Do check the keyboard feet for any grime or dust buildup and a quick look at the keyboard cable to ensure there’s no potential damage.

    Compressed canned air is great to clean dust and other grime that has settle in hard to reach areas.

More experienced users can further dismantle the board at this point to do more cleaning, but it’s not a necessity. Most of the dust and other particles will stay on top of the keyboard deck, so this can be avoided. We DO NOT recommend dismantling the keyboard if you don’t know the specifics. It’s particularly easy to deep clean a keyboard with hot-swappable switches as they’re easy to remove, but it’s probably not required.

Gateron red mechanical switches

Once you think you’ve done enough justice, it’s now time to drop your keycaps on the switches. This is where we recommend wiping the keycaps properly with a damp cloth. Perhaps even use a blower to get any dust particle that might be sitting underneath.  After you’ve ensured everything is clean, start by putting back the keycaps on the mainboard. Whatever you do, be certain that everything is completely dry, and in place, before plugging the keyboard into your PC.

Further Maintenance

To further maintain the longevity of your keyboard, make sure you take time to clean it periodically. In fact, ensure that you clean all your PC parts at regular intervals if you want them to last longer. Most importantly, manage your cables. Not only does that make your setup look good, but it also ensures the cables don’t wear out quickly. You can also use some velcro or zip ties to tidy up loose cables. We encourage you to check out our essay on cable management if you need a detailed look at the different things you can do.

    Velcro straps are a great way to tidy up your cable mess.

How to clean and maintain your Mechanical Keyboard: Final Thoughts

Well, that brings us to the end of this beginner’s guide. You can easily keep your keyboard nice and clean if you simply follow the steps we’ve mentioned above. Just make sure you clean it as often as you can to avoid spending an absurd amount of time on a deep cleaning session. Good luck!

About author

Karthik Iyer
Karthik Iyer

Karthik covers PC hardware for XDA Computing. When not at work, you will find him yelling at his monitors while playing video games.

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