Step-By-Step: Keep a Clean Keyboard

Don't look now, but your PC's keyboard may have its own alien ecosystem growing in the dark recesses beneath the keys. Dirt and dust coat the keys and build up underneath. Sometimes the accumulated mixture of spilled drinks and crumbs can stop keys from working altogether.

Keeping your keyboard clean is an easy process that you should perform regularly. Before beginning, determine whether you have a mechanical or a membrane keyboard. Some boards still use a mechanical apparatus underneath the keys, which creates a distinctive click when keys are pressed. But most keyboards today use hard-contact keys that connect with a plastic membrane.

We've divided our tips into two sections: Basic Cleaning and, for stuck or truly filthy boards, Intensive Care. Of course, if you need to start anew, replacement boards start at as little as $10.

Tools and Supplies

Basic Cleaning

Canned compressed air (available at computer and photo dealers), lint-free cloth or photographic wipes, mild liquid dishwashing detergent, vacuum cleaner with soft brush

Intensive Care

All of the above, plus a small screwdriver (for removing keys), cotton swabs, and 90 percent isopropyl alcohol (available at any drugstore). Note: Do not use ethyl-based rubbing alcohol.

More Cleaning Tips

Your keyboard isn't the only part of your PC that could use tidying: Your PC's mouse may need some attention. Also, see "Top Tips for PC Hygiene" for more tips.

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