How to Clean Your Mechanical Keyboard

A photo of a dirty mechanical keyboard with pink, purple, and blue keycaps

Clean that nasty keyboard already.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

I learned from a young age how dirty computers could get after enough time in a common area bordering the kitchen and the living room—especially the keyboard. Dust, grease, food crumbs, and everything in between get caught in the crevices of the keys, in places you’d never even thought possible. And now that I’m into mechanical keyboards, including customizing them, I’ve had to craft a cleaning routine to ensure every keeb in my vicinity is always ready for its closeup.

My methods are pretty standard, and they rely on tools you might already have around the house. I’m talking Q-tips, dish soap, and isopropyl alcohol. I’ve also bought a couple of things over the years that I found to be particularly helpful, like a keycap puller with a metal handle and a handheld keyboard vacuum. The vacuum ensures other parts of my desk also remain free of dust.

Here’s how to clean your mechanical keyboard if you’ve felt like it’s time to tackle the grime taking the sheen out of your fancy kit. Even if you’re using a standard, run-of-the-mill mechanical keyboard, you’ll want to keep it maintained so that the springs stay sprung and the keys are as shiny as day one. Note that this method won’t work for a membrane keyboard, where each key is tethered to the board.