keyboard cleaning?
October 15, 2004 10:36 AM   Subscribe

A request for opinions on the sticky situation regarding an absolutely filthy keyboard ?

(This question is obscenely long, and I do apologize. It must be taken into consideration that I have a love, and my dear love is distressed.)

Since the week after Apple began selling their Pro Keyboard as individuals, through the lifetime of black keys up until the white keys of today, I have used the product faithfully. The reason being that I do not know how to type properly and have created my own technique involving the placement of the keys--and operate the keyboard's various bonus functions (volume, the inverted 'T' arrows, my Quicksilver HotKeys, home, end, Etc.) without paying a single thought.

-- Although --

My current Pro Keyboard is bordering on the disgusting after having used it for almost three years. It performs perfectly, it is simply that the filth disturbs me. I am on disability and cannot afford a replacement, a statement which will become a contradiction in a moment's time.

I have read here in the past myriad solutions of interest for coping with disasters involving liquid and our friends. While I do not necessarily have such a situation on my hands: my hands are mired in the situation. This answer to a previous question has been on my mind since it was presented, and I am curious if it may aid me in my plight. I am willing to take the risk of destroying the keyboard for some unknown reason, and have one of those strangely small keyboards that were partnered with original iMacs to use while the true friend is airing out.

Just how large of a risk exists if I were to pop the Pro in the dishwasher?
posted by tenseone to Home & Garden (18 answers total)
Can you pop the keytops off on that one? That's the best way to clean a filthy keyboard. Just take them off, put them in a bowl with some liquid detergent and warm water, and splash it around until they're clean.

Also -- wouldn't it be simpler to just ask: "How do I clean a filthy Mac Pro keyboard?"
posted by smackfu at 10:49 AM on October 15, 2004

Response by poster: I cannot seem to find a way to dislodge the keys. I should have mentioned it to be as such.

-- Also -- wouldn't it be simpler to just ask: "How do I clean a filthy Mac Pro keyboard?" --

Perhaps, although I believe my Dearest deserves more than that.
posted by tenseone at 10:54 AM on October 15, 2004

Response by poster: Oh, yes, and: Due the transparent nature of her body: her innards need a good flush as well.
posted by tenseone at 10:59 AM on October 15, 2004

I don't have a mac, nor have I seen the Mac Pro keyboard.... but on most PC keyboards, the keys can pop off and go back on, sometimes with a good bit of coaxing.... I've used a butter knife, or a flat head screwdriver, sometimes both at the sametime. The hardest part is the first key. After that you've got great leverage for the rest of them. Dropping them in a solution of water and detergent helps, and while that's going on, I take a couple of q-tips and swab around the little posts that the keys sit on.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 11:35 AM on October 15, 2004

a excellent way to clean it as is kinda time consuming but does a great job, is to take a bottle of alcohol (of the rubbing variety) and some Q-Tips™ and rub them down, and between the keys. good as new.
posted by ShawnString at 11:43 AM on October 15, 2004

Dissembly of an Apple Pro Keyboard
posted by jpoulos at 11:53 AM on October 15, 2004

Call me paranoid, but I would not dishwash a keyboard.

I also endorse the alcohol/q-tip technique, with an added tip: if you fluff out the cotton tip it's much easier to get down between each row of keys.

But you might as well pop the keys off (link above) and really get in there.
posted by O9scar at 12:03 PM on October 15, 2004

O'Reilly recommends the dishwasher in one of their computer repair books, so it's not as outrageous as it might seem. Unplug it 1st (heh), don't wash with any other dishes, due to not wanting to get any other particles in there, and don't use any detergent. Let it dry for severaly days in a warm dry space. Turn frequently to avoid any pockets of water that won't dry.

Generally, though, I just shake the keyboard hard to dislodge crumbs, then clean the keys with alcohol swabs, available at drugstores. If it's really funky, a new keyboard is the only solution.
posted by theora55 at 12:15 PM on October 15, 2004

Response by poster: Thank you most sincerely for the attention.

-- Dissembly of an Apple Pro Keyboard --

Oh my, it is a goodish day after all.
posted by tenseone at 12:17 PM on October 15, 2004

I was told by a PC hardware repair guy that a standard keyboard can be safely submerged in water, you just have to wait for it to be completely dry before you decide to use it again. That being said, I have never done this, but it does seem logical since they are low power devices that do not have capacitors, batteries, etc.
posted by internal at 1:24 PM on October 15, 2004

Response by poster: From the kindly link provided to us by Mr jpoulos in the doubtful scenario one finds this thread in a search for a common solution for a solution:
"There is one thing to keep in mind no matter what you bathe the key caps in, however; do not bathe the larger keys such as the SPACE BAR or the ENTER, RETURN, SHIFT keys, etc. All these larger keys have wire supports to even out the pressure exerted upon them by the user, and direct that pressure to the key button belonging to the cap...

CAUTION: The grease needs to remain in place to prevent the wire supports from scraping the plastic pieces they touch into plastic filings over time. This is the reason you should not immerse any of the larger keys containing these wire supports in any sort of bath, especially alcohol which will likely wash all the grease away. You can add a good twenty minutes to the project if you need to put fresh grease on all those contact points, so instead of bathing them, just use a dampened cloth to remove any food stuffs that may be sticking to those larger key caps."
It seems to me, and that is only I, that giving the Pro a dish may be unwise.
posted by tenseone at 1:40 PM on October 15, 2004

Open it up, pop off the keys, submerse them in a big bucket of soapy water, rinse, lather, repeat. Wash them off with clean water, let them dry, put them back on the keyboard (in the correct place), and close up the keyboard.

That's it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:56 PM on October 15, 2004

Simple, lazy way without any disassembly. Spray the whole thing with kitchen cleaner, wrap a strong paper napkin or kitchen wipe around a credit card. Use the paper covered credit card to clean between the keys. Keep moving the paper. Fussy, takes about 10 minutes but the result is fine. You'll be amazed how much hair comes out. How did that get there?
posted by grahamwell at 2:25 PM on October 15, 2004

There are key-pulling tools that could make a cleaning adventure a lot easier.
posted by adamrice at 3:32 PM on October 15, 2004

Plastic knives work in a pinch too.
posted by smackfu at 5:49 PM on October 15, 2004

The only proper way to clean your keyboard is to fully disassemble it. Take the plastic only bits, put them in a laundry bag (the kind you wash laundry in, not the kind you store laundry in) and run them through the dishwasher. You may wish to avoid a heated dry cycle.

You may also wish to pre-rinse your dirtier bits. If you have layers of unidentifiable stuff encrusted on your keys or parts not exposed, rinse in water and scrub with a sponge.

Before you reassemble the keyboard, wipe the plastic bits with Armorall.

And have some reference as to what your keyboard looks like when assembled. My number pad "+" and "Enter" keys have been swapped for years. Thankfully I touch type. :-)
posted by sequential at 10:12 PM on October 15, 2004

For two summers, I cleaned computers for a school district. For keyboards, we unplugged them, then scrubbed them with a soapy scrub brush, then towel dried, then blew them out with compressed air. As long as you let it dry, there should be no harm in using water on it, and no need to dissassemble it.

Considering that these computers were used by dirty kids, I'm sure it will work for you.
posted by drezdn at 10:45 PM on October 15, 2004

As long as you let it dry, there should be no harm in using water on it, and no need to dissassemble it.
Let me reiterate, as someone who had for years followed drezdn's method of cleaning my keyboards. In order to properly clean a keyboard, you must disassemble it. Even having used a soapy scrub brush and compressed air for years, when I disassembled the keyboard, the amount of debris underneath the keys was immense.

Considering I am a dirty adult who has used the same keyboard since 1995 and who has tried both suggested methods, I'm sure you'll not be disatisfied with any effort it takes you to disassemble your keyboard.

I sincerely mean no offense to you drezdn. But this is a picture of the first time I disassembled my keyboard after seven years of ownership.

posted by sequential at 7:49 AM on October 16, 2004

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