How can I clean a laptop keyboard?
September 9, 2005 9:27 AM   Subscribe

I have a laptop keyboard which has had coffee spilled on it; several keys no longer work, enough to make it fairly useless. What to do?

Is there a simple way to clean it, or do I need to get a new keyboard? The only instructions I've found online require a lengthy list of specialized lubricants and cleaning solutions which would probably set me back nearly the cost of the keyboard.
posted by IshmaelGraves to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
 
Did the coffee have any cream or sugar in it? If so, you're better off just purchasing a new keyboard. If not, then just pull the keyboard completely out of your laptop and unhook the connector that connects it to the laptop (there should be one cable). Then, rinse the keyboard out completely using just a running faucet and let it air dry for about three days. Next, reconnect it and you should be set.
posted by richardhay at 9:37 AM on September 9, 2005


As mentioned in this recent thread, you should take it to a professional for servicing. Coffee is notorious: the water makes things rust, and the sugar makes things sticky. Even if you manage to clean it all yourself, there are no guarantees you won't run into further complications down the road.
posted by BorgLove at 9:39 AM on September 9, 2005


Sorry, I'm assuming by laptop keyboard you mean that the 'board is an integral part of the laptop. If not, what Richard said.
posted by BorgLove at 9:41 AM on September 9, 2005


Coffee is acidic enough to eat the tiny circuit traces in the keyboard's contact membranes. Even if you clean the joe all out, rinse (completely) and dry it the traces could lift off or be eroded.

Now if you are mean enough to *try* to fix it yourself (Ive done it) you can pry apart the membranes and either visually inspect the damage or check the traces with a continuity tester (most multimeters have a beep mode).

When you find a bad trace, this miracle pen enables you simply redraw a new trace right over the bad one. Ive fixed a few this way.
posted by ernie at 9:44 AM on September 9, 2005


Don't try to remove the keys on a laptop keyboard. I was a laptop repair tech for several years and those little buggers don't like to go back on.

My suggestion:
1. See if your laptop is still under warranty (usually the OEM support website can tell you)
2a. If it is, find the email link for support and ask them for a new keyboard. Nowadays they're super easy to install yourself
2b. If it's not under warranty, go on ebay and look for one used and replace it yourself.

Either way, you shouldn't have to spend more than $20 and maybe 20 minutes installing it.
posted by bikergirl at 10:43 AM on September 9, 2005


Response by poster: Did the coffee have any cream or sugar in it?

Nope, black.

If not, then just pull the keyboard completely out of your laptop and unhook the connector that connects it to the laptop (there should be one cable). Then, rinse the keyboard out completely using just a running faucet and let it air dry for about three days. Next, reconnect it and you should be set.

Thanks, I'll give this a shot.

Either way, you shouldn't have to spend more than $20 and maybe 20 minutes installing it.

Normally, this is what I'd do, but I haven't been able to find this particular keyboard for less than $70, so I thought I'd look for alternatives.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 12:07 PM on September 9, 2005


Geez, care to tell us what type of laptop you have? If it's a Mac, I may be able to get you a new keyboard.
posted by ryanrs at 12:20 PM on September 9, 2005


Response by poster: It's a Toshiba Satellite 1130-S150. I imagine it's expensive because it's a few years old.

Thanks for all the help.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 2:28 PM on September 9, 2005


I can't seem to find any toshibas with that part number. However, I did find models 1130, 1130-S155, and 1130-S156. These all use the same keyboard, part number K000003930. There is also a Satellite A45-S150, but it uses a different keyboard.

Toshiba's official OEM part distributor is National Parts Depot. They sell part K000003930 for $70. Froogle lists a few other places selling that part for $5-$15 less.
posted by ryanrs at 4:03 PM on September 10, 2005


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