Washing your Keyboard

NPR Morning Edition had a story today concerning the cleansing of your computer keyboard. Most manufacturer’s recommendations that I’ve seen have involved wiping the surface down with mild disinfectant and/or using canned air to blow the crumbs/dust/hair out from between the keys (holding upside down and vigourously shaking, as is the practice by yours truly, is discouraged).

However, the NPR story was about washing your keyboard in the dishwasher.

Though an entertaining piece to listen to, I think they’re all insane. Well, wait. Maybe they’re not. Our household has experience a few keyboards awash in drink, with no lasting adverse effect. The only funkiness was when only a few drops of fluid were in the keyboard, causing odd short circuits between keys, resulting in a sdentewcve thwat lookewsd likwe thisa. So, maybe washing (and drying!) a keyboard isn’t such a bad idea.

This topic has apparently made a big dent on google.

I’m adamantly convinced that though this might not kill your keyboard, it has got to shorten its lifespan by a large fraction. And really, the only reason to do this is to have a clean looking keyboard, not necessarily one that is sanitary. So, if you can put up with a keyboard that is a bit grimy (better yet, buy a black one) you’re good to go.

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8 Responses to Washing your Keyboard

  1. Tom says:

    Damn… James beat me to it. That’s exactly what I thought of while reading the first paragraph.

  2. Ken says:

    I’ve been wondering how to clean my Mac keyboard on my PowerMac G5. That beautiful clear acrylic and white keyboard that looked so immaculate when new now has a layer of dust and grime on it. I’ve sprayed it with compressed air, but it’s still “not as fresh” as it once was.

    Dishwasher safe? :)

  3. Bill says:

    I had forgotten about that particular edition of the comic. :)

  4. Annie says:

    In response to Ken: an obsessive compulsive would break out the rubbing alcohol and the cotton swabs. (Nah, I’ve never been known to do that to a computer.)

  5. Mike says:

    I’ve found that particularly for getting out crumbs and pet hair that somehow get between keys, the business end of a sticky note, run carefully between the rows, is a nice low-cost form of maintenance.

    As much of a clean freak as I am, my keyboard will stay decidedly out of the dishwasher. I’ll be pulling an Annie if it really gets beyond my ick threshold.

  6. Chris says:

    I figure the dishwasher is a method of last resort if you spill Coke or some other heavy-sucrose solution into the mechanical workings of the keyboard. I have to figure that as long as it doesn’t melt in the dry cycle, and you give it ample time to dry… it ought to be pretty much ok. I’ll definitely try it before I pitch one for sticky-keys.

  7. Pingback: Are keyboards washable?

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