Cleaning the keyboard is only done in very few offices. Yet, a dirty keyboard is not only disgusting to look at, but can also lead to a serious risk of disease. Therefore, it’s time to clean the keyboard thoroughly.

What kind of dirt can be identified on the keyboard? Well, researchers have identified up to 400 different bacterial strains at certain workplaces. Those are much more strains than the ones you can find on a toilet seat. We put up to 60 different types of germs onto the digits and numbers with our hands. This includes feared germs which sometimes can lead to bad digestion problems.

But there are more reasons for a clean keyboard: resistant dirt ensures that some keys can fall out completely. This makes your computer or laptop become useless over time. Therefore, it is appropriate to clean the keyboard regularly. And it is not even that complicated, as you will notice in what follows. When cleaning, you simply have to consider the difference between the keyboard of a computer and a laptop. Because latter one has to be handled with a little bit more care, but more about that later.

Cleaning the computer keyboard

Herkömmliche PC-Tastatur reinigen

Clean conventional keyboards with a brush
Picture: Harry /

Wipe off your keyboard regularly with a moistened cloth and some soap. The cloth should be not too wet.

You can remove stuck dirt from your keyboard as follows:

  • “Normal” computer keyboards have the advantage of removing and reassembling some of their components.
  • It’s best to take a picture before cleaning, so you can place all letters and numbers correctly afterwards.
  • After that, remove every key separately by using a screwdriver. They can easily be cleaned in running water with some washing-up liquid.
  • Turn the keyboard around after that by moving it up and down slightly, so superficial dirt can be removed.
  • After that, you can use a hoover with an attached brush. But please pay attention to adjust a small level only. Otherwise, loose components can be suck into it.
  • Spots difficult to reach can be cleaned with a moistened cotton bud or pipe cleaner. You can also use a new toothbrush for cleaning between the gaps.
  • After putting the keys back correctly, you can wipe off the surface with a moistened microfibre cloth. Please make sure to only use a very minimal amount of water! Otherwise, the contacts in the keyboard get damaged. Especially for older models, most keys are only imprinted. By using too much water or aggressive chemicals, the numbers and letters get washed out very easily. Sooner or later, this will lead to fading readability. Therefore, anyone who can’t type according to the style of touch typing has no chance.

Of course, you can clean the keyboard quite simple too: several manufacturers promise that you can clean the plastic casing by putting it into the dishwasher at low temperature. But before you give it a try, please have a look at the operating instruction.

Cleaning the laptop keyboard

Notebook-Tastatur reinigen.

Keyboards for notebooks are more difficult to clean. Therefore, you must be gentle.
Picture: diy13 /

As already mentioned, you have to be more careful when cleaning these kinds of keyboards. This is especially because their components can’t be taken apart since the keyboard of a laptop is tightly attached to its casing.

  • Before cleaning with a moistened cloth, you should always unplug the notebook from the socket! If you want to play it safe, you can remove its battery as well.
  • Yet, superficial dirt can be removed very easily: therefore, soak a soft microfibre cloth into a gentle cleanser and wipe it over the keys. After that, dry with a lint-free dishcloth.
  • Superficial dirt can be removed easily with a standard hoover. As suggested before, a toothbrush with oblique brushes can prove useful here as well. By that, you will also reach under those which are more sensitive.

A cleanser especially for keyboards?

Especially heavy soiling on the keyboard often can’t be removed with standard cleanser. In this case, the trade offers a wide variety of special detergents for cleaning dirty keyboards:

  • Compressed air duster: they remove superficial dirt very easily, like e.g., crumbs. Another advantage is that it is not necessary to dismantle the keyboard.
  • Special mass of glue: it looks like a big chewing gum and is just as sticky as one – perfect for cleaning the keyboard. With the help of disinfected cleaning slime from the specialist trade, you can not only remove superficial particles of dirt but also undesirable bacteria. The mass is available in different variations, from relatively solid to almost liquid.
  • Sponges and disinfectant: sponges from the specialist trade are extra fine-pored and therefore well applicable for most sensitive surfaces. Accompanying disinfectants are clearly more gentle than the ones from the chemists which are mixed with alcohol.
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Cleaning the keyboard: tips & tricks

Tastatur reinigen: Eingabegeräte sollten deshalb wenigstens einmal pro Woche, während einer Erkältungswelle besser jeden Tag, mit einem Desinfektionsmittel gereinigt werden. / Foto: Dmytro Flisak /

Cleaning the keyboard: devices should be cleaned with water and soap, or rather a disinfectant, minimum once a week, during flu season better once a day. / Picture: Dmytro Flisak /

  • Doesn’t matter if laptop or computer: clean without aggressive detergents! Most keys are only imprinted. If they get in contact with scouring products, the labelling can come off very easily.
  • If you want to clean the keyboard moistened, always make sure to not using too much water.
  • You can also clean the keyboard’s gaps with stickers. Sounds weird but works quite well for superficial dirt. Therefore, just put the sticky side between the gaps and remove it afterwards.
  • Before dismantling keys of old models, you should take a picture first. This will guarantee that you will put everything back correctly afterwards. If you missed it, just simply have a look at the allocation of every number and digit. You can find it under the Windows menu option “Ease of Access”, then “Keyboard” and simply switch to “Use the On-Screen Keyboard”.
  • Especially keyboards that get used from several people at the same time, do have many pathogens on them. Use a disinfectant cloth more often for cleaning in between. It will kill the germs and cleans gently.
  • If liquids got poured into the computer keyboard, immediately disconnect the device from the socket. Put the casing into a container upside down filled with uncooked rice. It will extract the moisture out of the keyboard.
  • If you don’t want to do it on yourself, you can bring the keyboard, or laptop, to the specialist trade for getting cleaned. For only little money you get a long-lasting impact on your device’s lifetime.
  • Last but not least: clean your keyboard regularly. This prevents from too bad dirt and following measures of cleaning will not be that time-consuming again. It is worth it to not only clean the keyboard, but instead clean your whole workplace since you will find particles of dirt and pathogens everywhere.

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The post "10 tips for cleaning the keyboard" written by:

Stephan Forstmann

Experte für Home Office und gesunde Büroarbeit

Stephan is from Dresden, Germany. He is a founding member of Deskonia since 2009.

Stephan is a home office worker since 2013 and became a home office expert. He shares his experience and publishes various tutorials for a better life at the office und creates tutorials on topics like ergonomics and communication.

In private, he is also very passionate about photography. He loves to chat about photography-gear and composition an. Stephan also published a lot of photography tutorials.

If you want to get in touch with Stephan, you can easily reach him via e-mail:

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