How to Clean a Computer Keyboard

Let's disinfect that mouse, as well

It's easy to forget that computers and keyboards in particular are dirt magnets. It's near impossible to wash your hands every time you're about to use your computer, and it's very likely you'll forget. That means that your keyboard picks up whatever substances your fingers last touched, so it's important to know how to clean keyboards properly, whether that's your PC keyboard, your laptop keyboard, or your gaming PC keyboard

Follow these simple tips to learn how to clean your keyboard and how to clean keyboard keys, so that your device stays hygienic and clean. 

What Do I Need to Know About Cleaning My Keyboard and Mouse?

As with any cleaning task, it's important to know a few things before you get started, as well as make sure you have relevant equipment. 

  • Clean your keyboard regularly. Ideally, you want to clean your keyboards and mice once or twice a month. If you spill something on them or accidentally stain them, clean them more often.
  • Use keyboard wipes for a quick fix. Keyboard wipes are great for a quick clean up job, such as if you happen to leave grease or a noticeable stain on one key. Make sure to have some to hand for these minor emergencies. 
  • Don't worry about dedicated keyboard cleaner. Some stores advertise specific keyboard cleaners but they're not necessary. You can use simple household items just as effectively.
  • Use a damp, soft microfiber cloth. Microfiber cloths are easy to use, inexpensive, and easily cleaned afterwards. They won't be harsh on your keys or mouse. 
  • Buy a can of compressed air. Ideal for dislodging dirt and particles, a can of compressed air will be your new friend when cleaning keyboards. 
A person wiping a cloth over a keyboard
 Stefan Cristian Cioata, Getty Images

How to Clean an External Computer Keyboard

Keen to clean up your desktop PC? Here's everything you need to know about how to clean your external computer's keyboard. 

Expect the process to take about 10-15 minutes, depending on how messy your keyboard is.

  1. Disconnect the keyboard from your computer so you don't accidentally tap anything. 

  2. Use a damp, soft microfiber cloth to wipe the keys and keyboard surface gently. Dampen the cloth with water. It's not necessary to use any specific chemicals.

    Don't douse the cloth in water. Just leave it a little damp on one corner so you can carefully wipe the keys.

  3. Use a dry toothbrush to scrape off any dried-on gunk that can't be wiped off. 

  4. To finish off, use a can of compressed air to clean out dust, crumbs and other stubborn particles. 

    Never spray the can while holding it upside down. 

  5. No compressed air? Tip the keyboard upside down and give it a good shake to dislodge crumbs. 

How to Clean a Laptop Computer Keyboard

Laptop keyboards get just as dirty as computer keyboards, and you can't easily swap them out for a replacement. Here's what to do to keep them clean. These tips also work for cleaning a laptop trackpad too.

A person wiping a blue cloth over a laptop keyboard with a small brush nearby
Suparat Malipoom / EyeEm, Getty Images 

Expect the process to take about 10-15 minutes, depending on how messy your keyboard is.

  1. Switch your laptop off, disconnect it and allow it to cool.

  2. Use a slightly dampened microfiber cloth to wipe the keyboard. 

    Avoid getting any water into the openings of the laptop.

  3. Use a can of compressed air to remove crumbs between the keys. Never use the can of compressed air upside down.

Hold the laptop at a 75 degree angle and tip it slightly backwards. Spray the keyboard with compressed air, moving it left to right and top to bottom to get the maximum results. 

How to Disinfect a Computer Keyboard

Every once in a while, it's important to disinfect a computer keyboard for the most thorough dirt removing session. Here's how to do it.

Never use disinfectant sprays or wipes that contain bleach. Bleach will damage your keyboard.

  1. Turn off your computer or laptop, and unplug it from any electricity source. 

  2. Wipe the keyboard gently with a disinfecting wipe. 

    If the disinfectant wipe is very wet, squeeze out excess liquid before using it.

  3. Wipe the moisture away with a microfiber cloth. 

  4. Dry again with a soft lint-free cloth such as one for cleaning spectacles with.

How to Clean a Computer Mouse

Computer mice get just as dirty as keyboards. While you can clean a laptop trackpad like a keyboard, you need to tackle different areas of an external mouse. Here's what to do.

  1. Unplug your mouse from your computer.

    If your mouse is wireless, switch it off and remove the batteries.

  2. Turn the mouse upside down and roll the scroll wheel to dislodge any crumbs or particles.

  3. Wipe the mouse, including any extra buttons, with a dampened microfiber cloth.

    Avoid getting moisture into any openings. 

  4. Dry with a soft lint-free cloth.