How to Clean a Mechanical Keyboard

Clean Mechanical Keyboard

Mechanical keyboards are popular among gamers and typing enthusiasts due to their tactile feedback and durability, but they can also accumulate dirt and grime over time. A thorough cleaning can not only improve the appearance of the keyboard, but also help extend its lifespan.

Today, weโ€™ll walk through the different materials and steps needed to clean your mechanical keyboard to prolong the life of your beautiful keyb.

Materials Needed

To clean your keyboard, you will need a few basic tools and supplies. First, gather a microfiber cloth, a toothbrush, and some compressed air. 

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Mild soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Compressed air
  • Screwdriver
  • Tweezers or pliers
  • Keycap puller

These three items will be your primary tools for getting rid of dirt and debris from between the keys and from the surface of the keyboard itself.

Disassemble the Mechanical Keyboard

It is important to be careful and follow the proper steps to avoid damaging the keyboard. Here is a guide on how to safely disassemble a mechanical keyboard:

Disconnect the keyboard from the computer or any other device it is connected to

To prevent any accidental inputs or power surges, it is important to disconnect the keyboard before disassembling it.

Remove the keycaps

Keycaps are the tops of the keys that you press down on to input a character. To remove them, use a keycap puller or gently pry them off with a flat tool such as a butter knife or flathead screwdriver. Be careful not to apply too much force, as the keycaps can be fragile and may break if you are not careful.

Remove the screws

Once you have removed all of the keycaps, you should be able to see the screws that hold the keyboard together. Use a screwdriver to remove these screws, taking note of where each screw came from so you can easily put the keyboard back together later.

Carefully lift the top plate of the keyboard

After all of the screws have been removed, you should be able to gently lift the top plate of the keyboard off of the base. Be careful not to apply too much force or bend the plate, as it can be fragile.

Remove any additional screws or clips

Some keyboards may have additional screws or clips holding the switch plate or other components in place. Use a screwdriver or pliers to remove these.

Disassemble the rest of the keyboard

Once you have removed all screws and clips, you should be able to carefully disassemble the rest of the keyboard. Be sure to keep track of all of the parts and take note of how they fit together, as you will need to reassemble the keyboard later.

Clean the Keycaps

Once the keycaps are removed, you can clean them using a damp cloth and mild soap. Be sure to dry the keycaps thoroughly after cleaning to prevent any water from getting inside the keyboard.

If the keycaps are particularly dirty or greasy, you may need to use a more powerful cleaning solution. In this case, it is important to be careful not to damage the keycaps or the printing on them. You can also use a toothbrush or a small scrub brush to gently scrub away any dirt or grime.

Cleaning the Switch Plate

Next, dampen the cloth or sponge with warm water and a small amount of mild detergent or soap. Gently wipe down the surface of the switch plate, being sure to remove any dirt or debris that may be present.

If there is dirt or debris trapped between the switches, you can use a small, soft-bristled brush or a toothbrush to gently scrub these areas. Be sure to use a light touch and be careful not to damage the switches.

Once you have cleaned the surface of the switch plate and removed any dirt or debris, use a dry cloth to wipe the plate down and remove any excess water. Allow the switch plate to air dry 

Clean the PCB

Once you have access to the PCB, use a soft, dry cloth to gently wipe away any dust or debris that may have accumulated on the surface. Avoid using any liquids or solvents as these could damage the PCB or other components. If the PCB is particularly dirty, you can try using a compressed air duster to blow away any dust or debris.

Reassemble the Mechanical Keyboard

Reassembling a mechanical keyboard can seem intimidating at first, but with a little patience and attention to detail, it can be a relatively straightforward process. Here are some steps to follow:

Begin by placing the keyboard base upside down on a clean, flat surface. This will make it easier to access the internal components.

Start by reattaching any detached keycaps to their corresponding switches. Make sure to align the keycaps correctly and gently press down until they snap into place.

Next, reattach the PCB (printed circuit board) to the bottom of the keyboard base. This can usually be done by aligning the PCB with the mounting holes and securing it in place with screws.

If your keyboard has a backplate, reattach it to the bottom of the PCB. This is typically done with screws as well.

Reattach the stabilizers for the larger keys (such as the space bar, shift keys, and enter key). These are usually attached to the PCB with screws or clips.

If your keyboard has a plate on top of the switches, reattach it now. This is typically done with screws as well.

Reattach any additional components, such as the feet and cable, if applicable.

Finally, flip the keyboard back over and test all of the keys to ensure that they are functioning properly.

Tips

Be sure to keep track of any small screws and other hardware that you remove during the disassembly process. It can be helpful to have a small container or tray to hold these items as you work.

Take your time and be careful when reattaching components. It’s better to take a little extra time to make sure everything is properly aligned and secure than to rush and risk damaging the keyboard.

Cautionary notes

Avoid applying too much force when reattaching keycaps or other components. Over tightening screws or pressing down too hard on keycaps can cause damage to the switches or PCB.

Be careful not to drop any small components, as they can be difficult to find if they fall onto a cluttered work surface.

Avoid using solvents or other cleaning agents when reassembling the keyboard. These can damage the internal components or leave behind residue that can interfere with the keyboard’s operation.

Mechanical Keyboard Maintenance

Maintaining a mechanical keyboard is crucial to ensure it stays in good working condition. Here are some suggestions for ongoing maintenance:

Clean the keyboard regularly. This involves removing dust and debris that can accumulate over time and cause keys to stick or not work properly. Use a can of compressed air to blow out any dust and crumbs, and use a microfiber cloth or cotton swabs to wipe down the keys and the surface of the keyboard.

Check and replace the keycaps as needed. Over time, keycaps can become worn or damaged, leading to issues with typing accuracy and comfort. Regularly inspecting the keycaps and replacing any that are damaged can help extend the life of your keyboard.

Keep the keyboard dry. Water and other liquids can damage a keyboard, so be sure to keep your keyboard away from sources of moisture. If you do spill something on your keyboard, act quickly to dry it off and prevent any permanent damage.

Use a keyboard cover. A keyboard cover can protect your keyboard from spills, dust, and other environmental factors that can cause damage.

Avoid eating or drinking near your keyboard. Crumbs and spills can accumulate in the keyboard and cause problems over time.

By following these suggestions for ongoing maintenance, you can help keep your mechanical keyboard in good working condition for a longer period of time.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning a mechanical keyboard involves disassembling it and using a variety of tools and materials such as a microfiber cloth, toothbrush, and compressed air to remove dirt and grime from the keycaps, switch plate, and PCB. It is important to follow proper disassembly steps and handle the keyboard carefully to avoid damaging it. Cleaning your mechanical keyboard can not only improve its appearance, but also help extend its lifespan.

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