Spending hours typing or playing Fortnite on your PC or Laptop can have quite a debilitating effect on the cleanliness of its keyboard. So, what’s the best way to return the shine without causing any damage to the device itself? We show you some simple methods for sprucing up your keyboard hygiene.

Power down your PC

Before you start it’s a good idea to turn off your computer and, in the case of a desktop PC, to disconnect the keyboard. This avoids any power related accidents that might occur while the cleaning takes place.

Shake out any loose debris

It’s been said that some people eat over their keyboards. It’s also been rumoured that these feasts involve biscuits, crisps, and cake, all of which are known for their crumbly natures. Now, we wouldn’t dare to impugn your character with such scandalous libel, but if some ne’er-do-well has sat at your desk and committed this culinary act of sabotage, then there’s a solution.

To dislodge any larger crumbs and other flotsam, pick up your keyboard or device, turn it upside down, and give it a bit of a shake. Hopefully this should free the underside of your keys from potential blockages.

Grab a can of compressed air

It’s not always possible to shake out all of the smaller bits of grit and dirt that can build up in keyboards. This is where a can of compressed air comes in handy. You can pick these up in hardware stores or order them online for very little money.

At the time of writing we found the Q Connect HFC-Free Air Duster for £6.80 on Amazon UK with free shipping and many similar offerings on Amazon US.

These cans usually come with a long plastic straw-like attachment that allows you to direct the blasts. To clean out any stubborn crumbs spray the cannister in a left to right motion over the keyboard, with the tip of the straw around half and inch away from the keys, then turn the keyboard onto its side and repeat the process. 

This is the method that Apple recommends for its troubled butterfly keyboard that appears on the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and new MacBook Air.

Clean the keys

There are a few different ways to clean the keys themselves. For mechanical and larger desktop keyboards you can take your time and use cotton buds dipped in isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol to clean the sides of each key.

For the tops of the keys on PCs and laptops, use a lint-free cloth (again dampened by the alcohol) to clean the surfaces. If you don’t happen to have any of this particular type of alcohol in your home, then wet wipes are a perfectly acceptable alternative, although on laptops you’ll want to go over the surface with a lint-free damp cloth (water this time) afterwards to make sure none of the cleaning agent gets onto your display.

There’s also a newer, stranger way to cleanse your keys, and that’s by using keyboard cleaning gel packs. These look like the kind of slime children love to make in art classes but can be an effective way of prying off dirt and grime. Simply open the container, rub the gel onto the keys, then peel it off again.

how to safely clean keyboard

A pack of four gels is currently available on Amazon US for $11.95 or you can buy a 145g tub on Amazon UK for £7.99.

Admittedly, it looks weird but is actually more fun than messing about with cleaning fluid and compressed air, plus it returns some impressive results. For more tips on how to master the custodial arts see our How to clean a touchscreen and How to clean a laptop fan guides.