Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cleaning Your Keyboard



When it comes to cleaning your keyboard there are many methods that can be used, some harder and more effective than others.

The easiest method is the Shake Method. It is so easy that you can do it right now. Pick up your keyboard, turn it over being careful not to press any keys, and shake it. See all of that stuff fall out? It is dirtier than you thought, isn't it? You can use one of the following methods to clean it further.

The Blow Method - You can buy cans of pressurized air at the computer department or computer store which are made especially for cleaning your computer. They usually have either a hose and nozzle or a tube extending from the nozzle. Hold the keyboard up vertically (that means that end of the keyboard is up and the other end is down), aim towards the keys and press the button. Keep blowing until all of the debris is blown out. Be sure to get around and in between all of the keys. This can be done with the computer on, but it is better if it is off so that you do not have to worry about pressing the keys and coming up with a page of aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa's.

The Vacuum Method
- This is just like the Blow Method except that a vacuum is used instead of a can of pressurized air. It is quite simple. Just turn the vacuum on, pull out the hose, and run the nozzle over the keys. Before doing this make sure your keyboard does not have any loose pop off keys that could be sucked into the vacuum.


The Cotton Ball Method
- This can be done in addition to the above methods and in lieu of the following methods. Take a cotton ball or cloth and wet it with rubbing alcohol. It should not be so wet that the alcohol runs down into the cracks of the keyboard. Wipe the tops and sides of the keys.


The Dishwasher Method - I hesitate to tell about this method because there is the possibility that it could fry your keyboard. When I had less experience with computers, I dunked my keyboard in a sink full of water to clean it. It did work afterwards, so I don't doubt those who say this method will not mess up your keyboard, but if it does, don't complain to me. I warned you. If your keyboard is not the standard membrane type of keyboard or if it is on a laptop, do not even think of trying this.

This is how you do it. Unplug the keyboard and place it face down in an empty dishwasher. Do not disassemble the keyboard and do not put it in a dishwasher that has dirty dishes in it. Some say to add soap, some say not to. Run the dishwasher through a regular cycle. Take the keyboard out, shake the water out, and stand it on end until it is completely dry (this may take several days). If it does not work after doing this, it may not be dry. Let it stand another week and try it again. If it still does not work, I warned you.


The Disassembly Method - This is the most thorough method, but it should not be done on laptop keyboards or non-standard non-membrane keyboards.

Turn off the computer and unplug the keyboard. Turn the keyboard upside down. You may want to get two books or short boards to place the keyboard on. Position them so that they hold up the keyboard on the edges when it is turned over. This should leave the keys dangling and not touching the books or the floor. This is especially needed when the keyboard's back is off; otherwise the keys will be lifted out of their position by the floor (or whatever surface it is laying on).

Get a screwdriver and remove all of the screws from the back of the keyboard. Lay the keyboard down on the books and carefully remove the back.

Take everything apart and clean thoroughly. It is better to take the keys out one at a time and clean them so that you do not put them back in the wrong place. Wipe each one down with a wet cloth and then with a dry cloth. Any keys that may be hard to put back in, can be cleaned in place without removing them. Wipe around the keys as they sit in place and blow any debris out with your lungs (using compressed air or a vacuum may upset the keys). If you are really brave, you can remove all of the keys at once and give the frame a good wipe down too. Do a once over and make sure that you have cleaned everything. Then reassemble it all.

Don't forget the keyboard's cable. Wrap a wet cloth around it and wipe it down. It may have an accumulation of grime that needs to be scrubbed off. Also if any of the letters on the keys have rubbed off, you can use a fine point permanent marker to draw the letter back on the key.

Keyboards are quite resilient and so it should work when you turn it on again. But if not, another attribute of keyboards is that they are cheap and so it won't cost too much to buy another one. With these pointers in mind and a quick reaction, you just may save your keyboard from total destruction the next time it gets coated with coffee.

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