A recent study shows that some keyboards may have more filth and bacteria than a toilet seat. Goes without saying, our laptops can get pretty filthy over time as they soak in a lot of dust and dirt. After all, they accompany us almost everywhere. To top it all, we type on it for hours with cheese-stained fingertips all the time. More than often, we tend to ignore the filth until it serves as an obstacle while typing.
Now, you don’t have to treat your laptop like a newborn baby, but it does require some attention every now and then. So, don’t wait for cleaning, until your laptop is just gasping for its last breath. If your laptop has seen cleaner days, maybe it’s time to devote some thought for keyboard cleaning to get rid of its tired look without endangering the machine.

Table of Contents:
1)      Preparation
2)      Cleaning Laptop with the keys intact
3)      Cleaning Laptop with the keys removed
4)     Handling Nasty Liquid Spills
5)      Tips
6)      Warnings


Nothing beats good preparation. So, be ready for some prep work to take good care of your laptop during the cleaning process. As a precautionary measure, take a backup of all the vital data on your laptop. If things were to go wrong, you won’t end up with a migraine sized headache just because you skipped this step.

Be sure to turn off your laptop while cleaning the keyboard. If you know how to remove the battery, remove the battery as well. Also, make sure that there are no attached accessories such as a USB card or headphone. Last but not the least; unplug the laptop while cleaning it.

Cleaning Laptop with the keys intact

With the keys intact, cleaning the laptop keyboard is a fairly simple job. One can make use of a can of compressed air to eradicate all the dust and debris around the keys. For those who don’t own a can of compressed air can make use of a laptop vacuum cleaner to suck away all the dirt. To clean the keys, dip a cotton bud into some drops of cleaning fluid or some mild isopropyl alcohol.

Ideally, the alcohol should not drip from the cotton bud. So, make sure that the cotton bud is damp before use. With the use of a cotton bud, clean the keys and inner surfaces to remove any buildup. Once done, wipe over all the areas with a dry cloth. For best results, make sure to use a new cotton bud after cleaning every few keys. Also, do not use too much alcohol or else it might damage the letters on the keys.

Cleaning Laptop with the keys removed

Not all laptop models are created the same. So, check your “service manual” to get instructions on how to unscrew the keys from your laptop. This is not a rocket science feat but can present many opportunities to screw up. For instance, the larger keys such the space bar, shift keys, enter key and backspace can prove to be a pain to reinstall. That being said, removing the keyboard enables thorough cleaning. However, it should be removed only if you think it’s a must.

If you have removed all the keys to deal with the worrying residue that may be trapped underneath, you can make use of compressed air or vacuum cleaner to get rid of all the dust and debris. Once done, clean all the keys individually with a cloth and cleaning fluid. To take care of stubborn marks, soak the keys in a solution of lukewarm water and mild soap/detergent for few minutes. Grab a clean towel and dampen it with cleaning fluid to clean the surface of the keyboard and the larger keys that were left intact, if any. Once done, wipe them over with a dry cloth. Ensure that no fluid enters the keyboard. Also, allow sufficient time for the keyboard to dry completely before reinstallation.

Handling Nasty Liquid Spills

Protection is the first priority with liquid spills. If you had the misfortune of spilling something on your keyboard, be sure to turn off your laptop in a blink of an eye. Instead of shutting it down the usual way, force your way to shut down by holding the power button until the laptop turns off. Also, remove the battery as soon as possible. There are times in life when we have to be a rabbit and not the tortoise. So, make sure to act fast to save the machine on time. Data loss or damage will be minimal if you act quickly.

You should not turn on the laptop until all the liquid has evaporated. This might take hours or even days, particularly for bad spills. In the meantime, you can clean the keyboard with a clean towel or a sponge. Depending on the severity of the spill, you might want to clean the keyboard beyond the surface. For the same, you will have to remove the keyboard from the laptop. If you succeed here, be gentle and carefully clean all the keys. If removing the keyboard seems like too much trouble for you, dial the digits of a laptop professional to get immediate help on this matter.


Cleaning the laptop keyboard is a simple, but time-consuming process. So, be generous with your time. Do not force things or else your keyboard might act weird upon reuse.

As they say, “Prevention is better than cure.” Avoid cold drinks and late-night snacks while typing at the keyboard.


  • Some folks out there use tissue papers to clean their keyboard. Tissue papers are too soft for keyboard cleaning. They rip apart before the job is done and leave little bits everywhere.
  • Do not spill any liquid on the laptop during the cleaning process to be sure that you have a perfectly functioning keyboard once again.

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