Can I soak my Apple keyboard?
December 27, 2019 11:20 PM   Subscribe

I spilled a beer over my old reliable Apple keyboard (https:// product/ B078YG84MN/) and it’s not working right. The interwebs say I can soak it in distilled water with a bit of iso alcohol and let it dry. Has anyone been successful with this or is there a better method? And if all else fails, is there someone that will recycle mucky keyboards? Sadly… this is the 2nd time I have done this in the last few months and I now have 2 unworkable key boards.
posted by jabo to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I put mine in the dishwasher then upside down on a vent. Really.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 12:17 AM on December 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Can confirm that Mr. Yuck's dishwasher trick has worked for me on a rubber dome keyboard not made by Apple.

Wrap the cable up and secure it with a twist tie so it doesn't end up tangled in the swing arm. Sit the keyboard in a plate rack, don't use any detergent, and run a full wash cycle (at under 60°C if your machine gives you the choice).

When the wash and rinse cycles have finished, pull the keyboard out of the dishwasher while it's still hot. Shake it vigorously in multiple directions to encourage as much water to fly out as possible, then sit it keys side down over a heating vent for at least three days, preferably with one side jacked up a little to encourage droplets to run off the internals rather than drying completely in place.
posted by flabdablet at 5:45 AM on December 28, 2019 [5 favorites]

I've had good luck dunking wet consumer electronics in >70% Iso and air-drying. But, that might cost as much as the keyboard at consumer prices.

One oddball idea (perhaps if your first water attempt fails) would be spraying it very thoroughly with a can of solder flux remover. They're not as good as they used to be, but the solvents are pretty friendly to most plastics and they dry without much residue. (No guarantee it won't discolor or destroy something, though. Most likely the finish or labels.)
posted by eotvos at 6:23 AM on December 28, 2019

I've heard of the dishwasher trick, but it didn't work for me the one time I tried it. One of my cats vomited on a favorite keyboard that I had owned for something like ten years. I cleaned it out as best I could and then ran it through the dishwasher. I let it dry for ten days. It never worked again.
posted by JD Sockinger at 7:33 AM on December 28, 2019

Favourite keyboards that last for ten years are pretty likely to be mechanical switch types rather than rubber dome types, and mechanical switches have a lot more tiny nooks and crannies with corrodable metal bits in them than rubber dome keyboards do.

Cat vomit is also a lot more acidic, and therefore corrosive, than beer.

The right way to fix a liquid-damaged keyboard is to take it completely to pieces, clean the pieces and repair any corroded metal. But that's too much of a pain in the arse for anything but a ten year favourite. I also don't know how feasible that approach would be for an Apple keyboard, as that company's products frequently prioritize aesthetics over repairability.
posted by flabdablet at 8:46 AM on December 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Sometimes this will work as a last resort, but I would recommend soaking in the sink in cold water rather than the dishwater which gets really hot. This is because the circuits that make up the keypad are just silver ink printed on thin plastic film. If you use hot water, it is more likely that the ink will be removed from the film. The electronics will be fine. It's the silver ink that is at risk.

So use cold water and limit the amount of time you leave it in the water. Maybe just soak for a few minutes then dunk and drain a couple of times.
posted by JackFlash at 10:10 AM on December 28, 2019

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