You get plenty of reasons to clean a mechanical keyboard. A well-qualified mechanical keyboard can work for years. After a long-time usage, there can be dust and grime inside the switches. Spills happen at times. The sticky keycaps are not good to use and affect typing and other activities. You can’t throw away a mechanical keyboard, because it’s quite expensive. Fortunately, cleaning a mechanical keyboard is not that hard. Easily-removed keycaps are one mechanical keyboard’s advantage. In this quick guide, some basics of cleaning mechanical keyboards will be covered. Cleaning is an important part of mechanical keyboard maintenance.
To avoid grime and dust accumulation, daily cleaning is quite important. You’d better not to eat next to your keyboards such as chips or popcorn. The particles could enter keycaps, and fuse to the switch’s metal plate.
To clean the surface dust, you can use a damp cloth to clean the keyboard lightly and dry it with another cloth. It’s better to use a microfiber cloth to prevent needless particles or the keyboard cleaning gel. As for the gaps between the keycaps, you can use a vacuum. There are small hand-held vacuums designed for keyboard cleaning. I won’t suggest you use the compressed air dusters. Air dusters could blow the dust into the keyboard switches to cause the dust accumulation and affect the switch function.
- Keycap puller (optional): you can pull out the keycaps easier. However, it’s optional. All Velocifire mechanical keyboards come with keycap pullers. Big keys such as space, enter, or shift are a bit hard to pull out. They have different structures. You need to be careful when you pull these keycaps our with your fingers, following the right angle. If you are not good at removing and resetting them, you can just leave them alone.
- Microfiber cloth: Two pieces of microfiber cloth. One is damp, and the other is dry. It’s not suggested to use the paper towel that could leave paper particles, scratches, and not environmental-friendly. The microfiber cloth can be reused.
- Cotton swabs: They are used in the gap and switch cleaning.
- Small brush/teeth brush (optional): Dip it with warm or hot water, and brush the whole keyboard cautiously. Please choose a soft brush. The hard ones may leave some scratches. Brush off the spare water first!
- Warm water/hot water/soap water: Water is very friendly. It won’t damage your keyboard. Hot water works great to remove the sticky. Or you can use soapy water. It takes some time and water to rinse.
- Alcohol or other cleaners: if your keyboard needs to deep cleaning, you can use alcohol. Dilute it with some water, otherwise, it’s too strong. There is a chance that the alcohol could remove the UV coating and cause discoloration. Please try water first. If there is a necessity to use alcohol or other cleaners, you can test it on the back of the keyboard first.
- A container: Contain and wash all removed keycaps.
- Rice(optional): It fastens the drying. Normally, natural drying takes 2-3 days.
- Lubricant(optional): Apply lubricant to switches to reduce the clicky sound.
I found out that some people use dishwasher or submersion to clean keyboard. I won’t suggest you use this method. Do not take venture with your expensive mechanical keyboard. During the washing, it could destroy the series number. You will void the warranty. You don’t want to throw away your mechanical keyboard. If you have determined to use a dishwasher, please remember the four tips.
- Set the lowest possible heating
- No drying cycle
- Keep full drying for 2-3 days
- Re-lubricate your switches
Procedures to clean a mechanical keyboard when spills happen
Spills happen sometimes. Water is easy to deal with. Sugar beverages are truly a problem. If the spills do not enter the switches, you can follow the below steps to clean your mechanical keyboard. If the switches get affected, you have to replace them (it really costs time and money) or just buy a new keyboard. Buy a well-sealed mug!
Step 1: Disconnect your keyboard.
Step 2: Drain your mechanical keyboard immediately. Use a towel to wipe the surface water, and leave it to dry away.
Step 3: Once the keyboard is dry, you can pull out all keycaps for deep cleaning. It’s easier to use a keycap puller, but it’s fine if you don’t have one. If you pull them out with your fingers, you should pull out straightly up. Big keys have different structures. You need to pay attention to them.
Tips: before you pull out the keycaps, you can take a picture to record the layout in order to put them back in the right order.
Step 4: Soak the keycaps in a container with warm water for 4-6 hours. You can shorten the soaking time if the keycaps are not dirty. Some people use soapy water. It’s a little difficult to rinse away. Maybe you can try denture cleansing tablets. They work amazing! Then after the cleaning is done, you need to put them on a dry cloth to dry them naturally.
Step 5: Clean the tray/ baseplate. When the keycaps soak, you can clean the tray and switches. Use a vacuum first, it will suck out all dust and particles. Then apply a damp microfiber cloth. As for these tiny gaps, use swabs to clean. Do not dip too much water. Try the best to avoid moistening the switches.
Step 6: When the cleaning is finished, place the keyboard in a shady and cool place to dry it naturally. Place the keyboard face down to prevent dust. Some people prefer to place it under the sunshine to fasten the drying. I won’t suggest it. It will discolor the keyboards. It normally takes 2-3 days to fully drying, so just be patient. If you have emergent needs, you can use a hair drier or rice to fasten.
Step 7: After 2-3 days, replace all keycaps according to your taken photo.