We often ignore what’s going on beneath the surface of our mechanical keyboard. Even if you clean your keyboard’s surface regularly, lots of grime slips through the cracks among your keys and gathers over time.

As a result, the keys will be dirty due to dust, oils from your fingertips, and food particles. This is unavoidable. If you have no solution for this, it is not only unhygienic, but it can also harm your keyboard and limit its functionality.

Cleaning your keycaps is the best thing you can do to revive the appearance of your keyboard now. The following is our advice and a step-by-step guide on how to clean keycaps.

What do you need to clean your keycaps and keyboard?

Items to clean your keycaps
Tools required to clean your keycaps

Before going through the steps on how to clean keyboard keycaps, you need to prepare the necessary tools. You’ll need the following items to clean your keycaps and keyboard:

  • Warm soapy water
  • A keycap puller
  • A towel to dry your keycaps
  • A clean place where the keycaps can dry overnight
  • A moist cloth to remove any grime from your keyboard

The fastest way to clean your keycaps and keyboard

If you are a gamer so busy with games and live streams that you don’t have much time to pay much attention to your “buddy keyboard”, here is the guide on how to clean gaming keyboard keycaps you will need.

Take a photo of your keyboard

Snap a picture of your keyboard before the work starts. This will help you remember where the keys are placed.

Indeed, no one wants to be a mess once the keycaps are ready to be put back on the keyboard but you’ve forgotten all their arrangement. When you need to re-insert your keycaps into the keyboard, this image will come in handy.

In the case of no photo taken, search for an image of a similar keyboard online to get a sense of where everything belongs.

Switch off and/or unplug keyboards before cleaning

If your computer is new-bought, the keyboard is most likely connected through USB. But if your company is an older one, check for the purple-colored PS/2 connection.

USB and PS/2 connection
USB and PS/2 connection

In case of being connected to a PS/2 port, ensure that your computer is shut down before unplugging the keyboard.

Remove the keycaps from your keyboard with a keycap puller

This way is much safer than using a screwdriver. Besides, plastic keycap pullers are more prone to scrape the keys than wire ones. Wire keycap pullers are easy to use and include a handle as well as two-wire loops.

Next, put the wire loops on the key diagonally opposite each other and slowly wriggle back and forth as pushing up.

A keycap puller
Removing the keycaps by a keycap puller | Voltcave

Wanna buy a keycap puller? It is available at a low price on Amazon. But firstly, you may also want to know What are the best keycap puller and how to make one?

What if you have no tool? Then read this post: How to take keycaps off without tools? Simple guide for you.

One thing to note is that big keycaps including the spacebar, enter, and shift should not be removed. Wires may be used to support these keys, making removal more difficult.

You can clean the keycaps you don’t want to remove using a moist microfiber cloth.

Clean the keycaps

Here is clearly the most important task on how to clean your keycaps. So, try to read them thoroughly!

1. In a bowl with warm water, soak the keycaps

The best way to clean keycaps is warm soapy water. You need to make sure the water is not too hot. To assist eliminate oils off the keycaps, put a few denture tablets into the bowl.

 

Warm water to clean keycaps
Warm water to clean keycaps

Make sure all of your keycaps are fully dipped in the water. Another solution is dish soap, although it might be more difficult to rinse away.

Note: Bleach may discolor plastics, so don’t use it to washing keycaps.

2. Wait 6 hours for soaking the keycaps

During this time, you can shake the keyboard over a trash can to clean it. With a Q-tip or a stiff-bristle brush, loosen sticky gunk.

Another solution to clean your keyboard is using a moist cloth to remove any built-up filth.

IMPORTANT: Do not allow any liquid to enter the keyboard; if liquid comes into touch with the keyboard’s printed circuit board, it may cause problems.

What if you accidentally spill water on the keyboard? Find the solution in this post: How to fix Water Damaged Keyboards with our step-by-step guide.

During brushing, stay away from the switch stems. This prevents particles from getting too deeply lodged.

2. Wait 24 hours for the keycaps to dry naturally

How to dry keycaps? Just leave them outside the air!

Air drying the keycaps
Air drying of the keycaps | Youtube

While the keycaps are drying, make sure to keep the stems up to allow the water to evaporate.

Leave them outside for 24 hours to ensure they’re totally dry. This ensures your computer is not damaged by the leftover water inside the keycaps.

When drying the keycaps, avoid using a paper towel to prevent scratching the surface and leaving particles behind.

Put the keycaps back

The work is done and now you need to put the keycaps back. This is when the photo you took in the first step comes into play.

 

Putting the keycaps back
Putting the keycaps back

Make sure all of the keys are in their respective positions and facing the right way when you put them back.

And then, simply press the keycaps straight down over the switch to pop them back on.

Reattach the keyboard to the computer

If you’re using a PS/2 connector, be sure the color (typically purple) corresponds to the right port.

If your computer has been turned off, turn it back on. Your keyboard should now be clean and ready to use.

We’ve arrived at the end of the road! To be more intuitive, you can watch the following video instructions on how to clean mechanical keyboard keycaps.

YouTube video

Clean off the whole keyboard

You’ve finished cleaning keycaps? So, here’s how to keep your keyboard looking neat and tidy at all times – Just clean your keyboard on a regular basis without removing the keycaps. This should be done once a week or whenever the keycaps start to look dirty.

But firstly you should make sure it is unplugged before cleaning the keyboard.

You can use a moist microfiber towel or a handheld vacuum cleaner to clean the surface. Instead of using a paper towel, dry your keyboard with another cloth.

Cleaning off your keyboard | Komando
Cleaning off your keyboard | Komando

Another option is using a cleaning wipe to clean off your keyboard or disinfecting the keycaps with hydrogen peroxide.

How often should you clean keycaps?

As mentioned above, you should clean down the surface of your keyboard with a disinfectant wipe on a regular basis. It’s best if you do it once a week.

Yet, if you are working on a keyboard that is shared with others, it’s a good idea to wash it off after each use to avoid spreading germs and other nasties.

This once-a-week clean only takes less than a minute to complete. This helps eliminate everything that you would directly contact daily.  Grease, bacteria, food, and other debris should be scraped from the keycaps.

In addition to weekly cleaning, the monthly clean (4 to 6 weeks) focuses on giving your keyboard a thorough cleaning. Crumbs, dust bunnies, or even hair particles need to be removed from between your keycaps.

A few Don’ts when cleaning your keycaps and mechanical keyboard

Do not use paper towels to wipe your keyboard

They are harsh and can leave little scratches on the surface, as well as small paper particles. In this case, a lint-free microfiber cloth is highly recommended.

Do not use canned compressed air

Some folks may believe that this is an excellent keyboard cleaning tool. However, there’s a risk they’ll blow some of the dirt into the key switches, which might make them inoperable.

Closing Thoughts

Setting the right cleaning routine isn’t the most enjoyable task, but it may lead to improved hygiene and a healthier lifestyle.

That benefits both you and your keyboard. Your keys will be sparkling and new-looking, rather than grease-coated.

We highly advise you to adopt a weekly and monthly clean, with the weekly clean focusing on cleaning off the surface of your keyboard and the monthly clean focusing on taking a deeper clean to get anything that slips between the cracks.

Now that you know how to clean keycaps. Keep it tidy, and have fun typing!