How to revive iMac keyboard after spilling beer on it?
August 3, 2009 5:37 AM   Subscribe

How should I clean my iMac intel 24" keyboard after spilling beer on it?

A small amount of beer was spilled on an iMac 24" keyboard, now, 48 hours later, many keys still do not respond. The beer was wiped off when the event happened, but nothing else was done, other than keeping the keyboard in a clean, dry place. Any suggestions on how to have the keys respond again?
posted by cahlers to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Trying rinsing it well with distilled water and then giving it another day to dry out. I've recovered a number of keyboards this way.
posted by ijoshua at 5:54 AM on August 3, 2009

The official line, of course, is that you should take it to an Apple-authorised service provider to have it repaired.

Assuming you have one of the aluminium keyboards, here's a guide to removing individual keycaps so that you can get at the switch underneath and give it a clean/poke. Hopefully the non-functioning keys are just stuck down underneath the key cap, or something like that.

Unfortunately, more complete dismantling of these keyboards is tricky, because all the major structural components are basically just glued together.
posted by chrismear at 5:57 AM on August 3, 2009

Response by poster: It's not an aluminium keyboard, it's a small, wired keyboard that comes with the 24" iMac.
posted by cahlers at 6:25 AM on August 3, 2009

There are some people who swear by putting the keyboard in the dishwasher. YMMV.
posted by oceano at 6:51 AM on August 3, 2009

One of these ones?
posted by chrismear at 6:51 AM on August 3, 2009

If it's the one Chrismear linked to, you can try what I do on a semi-regular basis. The keys actually pop out fairly easily. I use a small flathead screwdriver to pry them up. (One thing you might want to do here: Remove the keys row-by-row, and place the loose keys in the original configuration on a nearby flat surface. Makes reinstallation go very quickly. Also, the larger keys have a small metal rod that winds under them and connects to the key bed. When reinstalling, take a moment to fit that tiny rod back into its slots.)

Once you have them all apart, you'll see that each key drives air pressure into a small cylinder underneath them. Blow out any fluids that might have accumulated in there. You can also use isopropyl alcohol to clean them without damaging the circuit board. At this point, you might just want to clean everything with a toothbrush.

If the keys still don't respond, then it's probably an electrical problem, and it's time for a fancy-pants new aluminum one.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 10:25 AM on August 3, 2009

If it is indeed that plastic keyboard, I don't think there is a way to revive it. I had to replace two of those due to spills. The plastic housing of it is shaped like a giant liquid-holding dish. Once I literally watched a cup of water disappear into the keyboard.

I still miss that keyboard, believe it or not. The size and stature of it added something to my computing experience. I wouldn't buy one unless it was cheap.
posted by beingresourceful at 10:48 AM on August 3, 2009

I can attest that putting a keyboard through the dishwasher can work. Make sure to let it get thoroughly, thoroughly dry before you plug it in, and for God's sake, turn off the heated dry phase on your dishwasher. This is definitely a method of last resort, though.
posted by McBearclaw at 11:14 AM on August 3, 2009

You can get really nice keyboards for around $30 these days. How much is your time worth?
posted by jrockway at 12:22 PM on August 3, 2009

Response by poster: I'm sorry, it actually is the aluminum keyboard. It's the small one that comes with the newest iMacs.

I don't have a dishwasher currently available where I am staying.

I new keyboard is $80, not too bad, but I'm hoping to try to revive this one first. Currently rinsed with water, and am letting dry in the sun for several days.
posted by cahlers at 1:51 PM on August 3, 2009

You know, you don't have to buy the over priced Apple replacement keyboard. Any cheap USB keyboard will work just fine.
posted by Chuckles at 6:23 PM on August 3, 2009

Just bite the bullet and get yourself a wireless bluetooth keyboard. You'll thank me later!
posted by crazyray at 11:16 PM on August 3, 2009

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