I want my C bak
January 20, 2010 5:55 PM   Subscribe

why is the "c" on my keyboard sticking, and what can I do about it?

A few days ago, the "1" key and the "c" key on my keyboard started not working as well as the other keys. In order to get them to work, I have to push quite hard on the key. The "1" key works fine now, but the "c" is still being troublesome. Anyone know what's wrong? How to fix?
Thanks in advance.
posted by jujube to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Could be a crumb or a speck of dust or a hair stuck under the key. Try blowing it out with some compressed air. Or turn your keyboard upside down and give it a tap.
posted by amyms at 6:05 PM on January 20, 2010

They've just got full of cruft.

The first thing to try is taking it to your local garage, borrowing their compressed air handgun, and giving the whole keyboard a fierce blowing out. If that doesn't improve it, it's time to escalate.

If this is a cheap keyboard (as is typical for one that came with a big-name PC) and not part of a laptop and you don't mind perhaps ruining it, you could try the brutal dishwasher method. Personally, I would not use dishwasher detergent for this - it's nasty corrosive stuff, and I think the hot water would do a more than adequate job on its own - and I'd take the wet keyboard back down to the garage for another thorough compressed air treatment before leaving it in the sun to dry for a week.

At best, this will fix your keyboard; at worst, you will have to replace it - and since that's generally the cheapest option for dealing with a worn keyboard, you're really no worse off. If you do end up replacing it, spend a little more than usual and get yourself a nice Cherry. Those guys have been making keyboards since before there were personal computers, and they're good at it.
posted by flabdablet at 6:11 PM on January 20, 2010

When it happens to me, this means there is a big crumb under there. It's a little gross, but usually I just press the key hard enough to smash the crumb into little bits which I then either:

a) shake out

or if we're being more honest

b) forget about.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:13 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

If it's a peripheral keyboard (not a laptop keyboard) you can just pop the key off with a pen, clean it off, let it dry, and pop it back on.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:35 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

(Actually, you might be able to do that with a laptop keyboard, but I only have a desktop, so I have no idea.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:35 PM on January 20, 2010

You should be able to pop the key off, even if it is a laptop. I've done this on my MBP, and was thoroughly grossed out by all the gunk under my keys.
posted by bluloo at 6:38 PM on January 20, 2010

Do not pop keys off and expect them to work better when you put them back on. Sad personal experience has led that to be the death of laptop keyboards for me-- I'm not sure why.
posted by Maias at 6:39 PM on January 20, 2010

I've also used q-tips and bobby pins to get rid of the offending particle, if that's what's in there.
posted by ajarbaday at 7:13 PM on January 20, 2010

Seconding the dishwasher method. I've used it many times successfully. DO NOT follow the ehow article linked above, though. It's wrong, wrong, wrong.

1. Insert keyboard into dishwasher. (You can wrap up the USB connector if you want. I usually don't bother.)

2. Hot water cycle, no heated dry. NO DETERGENT.

3. Remove from dishwasher, shake off a few times, and place on a hard floor, keys down. ALLOW TO DRY FOR A WEEK. Needless to say, you should have a backup keyboard handy.

DO NOT remove all of the keys to dry it off. It's not necessary and you're likely to break something.

It usually works. It might not, but once a keyboard starts to fail I consider it expendable anyhow.
posted by mmoncur at 1:59 AM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sometimes I get a stuck key on my laptop keyboard. I just jab the key in frustration, very hard, several times. Probably destroying the crumb/grit/grime in the process, and the key works fine again. Repeat every 2 or 3 months.

I really should clean it sometime. :/
posted by weasel at 1:13 PM on January 21, 2010

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