PC Doctor September 27, 2013

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Dear PC Doctor:

I’m embarrassed to say this but, my computer keyboard isn’t working well, and I think it’s because I often eat at my computer.  There are definitely crumbs and things stuck down there.  How can I safely clean my keyboard?

       Signed, Cookie Monster

Dear Cookie:

Well, don’t be embarrassed!  We all have this problem.  A recent microbiology study reported by the BBC found that computer keyboards are not just full of crumbs but, bacteria, too!

The first thing you will want to do when cleaning your keyboard is to turn off your computer.  Then, unplug the keyboard.

To get the crumbs and other loose dirt out, turn your keyboard upside down. You can even give it a gentle shake.  A can of compressed air can be very helpful – spray between the keys.

Then, wipe it with a very lightly dampened lint-free cloth. You can follow that with an alcohol wipe to kill germs.  If you don’t want to buy a commercial alcohol wipe, use a cotton swab (like a Q-Tip) and dip it in rubbing alcohol.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can also pop out the keys themselves with a flat head screwdriver and clean in the “trench” underneath.  (Please consult your device's manufacturer to learn whether key removal is supported, so that you avoid damaging your keyboard.  If you’re not sure, it’s better not to do this.) Place the tool under a corner of a key, and pry it off.  Once you've removed the letter keys, you can wash them individually with water and soap, or alcohol, to remove dirt.  After washing, dry the keys, and then place them on a towel to continue drying.

When you’re done, you can plug everything back in.  Things should work a little better.

Until next time… Happy computing!

       PC Doctor