Cleaning Your Dirty Keyboard

I have a Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro that is probably close to 10 years old and really until last night was starting to show it’s age.  Dust, dirt, and grime (and probably several strains of H1N1) had gathered on the majority of the keys and the wrist rest.  Things were so grimy that no level of computer cleaner would take it off; no matter how hard I would scrub.

I had read online all the different options for cleaning keyboards including popping all the keys off (take a picture of it before you start) and wash them in the silverware basket, to using harsh straight alcohol and a toothbrush.  The other method I had seen quite a bit was throwing it in the dishwasher.  A little scary, but I figured it was worth a try.

I put the keyboard in the top rack.  It seems like the temperature and proximity of the heat source would cause problems if I placed on the bottom rack.  I wasn’t willing to have to scrape a heap of plastic out of the bottom of the dishwasher, or worst case, have to buy a new dishwasher.  Also, the extreme heat could cause the case of the keyboard to warp.

photo

Here are a couple of pointers when it comes to using your dishwasher for cleaning your keyboard:

1. If you really, really love your keyboard and don’t want to risk wrecking it – then don’t wash it in the dishwasher.  There is a chance that it may not work when it is done.

2. Wash alone.

3. Use only about 1 tbsp of dishwasher detergent.  Less is more in this case.  For reference, I used Cascade Complete powder detergent.

4. After washing, shake the keyboard out and dry as thoroughly as possible with a towel.  Then place it keys down on a towel to finish drying for a couple of days.  Don’t plug it in till it has completely dried.  If you lack patience, refer to Pointer #1.

5. I didn’t do this, but others have also recommended to drill a couple of small drain holes.

I was really impressed with the outcome.  I am still waiting for it to completely dry, but the washing definitely makes it look like a new keyboard and given me a new germ-free surface for typing.  I wish I would’ve taken a picture of the grossness before I started.

Update (11/12/2009)

I waited about four days and the keyboard was completely dried out.  I plugged it in and everything worked flawlessly.