How to Clean Your Laptop Keyboard in 6 Staggeringly Simple Steps

A norovirus outbreak at a Washington, D.C., elementary school in February 2007…sickened more than 100…through contaminated computer equipment – Dan Childs, ABC News

Our electronic devices, phones, laptops and computers have to be the most handled items in our lives right now. So it’s not surprising that these surfaces are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and other microbes.

Do you ever snack while typing? I’m definitely guilty of working while eating. Again, it comes as no shock that those little nooks and crannies between the keys will have crumbs in them.

In 2008, a test was conducted by a British microbiologist. He swabbed 33 keyboards, a toilet seat and a toilet door handle. He found four of the keyboards to be potential health hazards. One even had levels of germs five times higher than on the toilet seat!

If this is the case, how do we keep our laptop and computer keyboards clean from all of these nasty germs?

First and foremost is to make sure that our own personal hygiene is up to scratch. Most important is hand washing.

A spokesperson for the Infectious Disease Society of America says that “handwashing is the single best, cheapest, most effective way to limit your exposure…with potentially dangerous bacteria.”

Once your hands are clean it’s time to sanitize your keyboard.

Clean your Laptop Keyboard Image - ST

How to Clean your Laptop Keyboard and Make Sure it Stays That Way

If you haven’t given your laptop keyboard a thorough clean lately (or ever!) then you are going to need to do all of these steps properly.

Step 1. Unplug Your Laptop 

The last thing you want to do is have an electrical mishap. Make sure you save what you are working on, shut down the system and unplug the laptop completely from any power cords.

Get Rid of Loose Debris Image - ST

Step 2. Get Rid of Loose Debris

Tilt the keyboard upside down and give it a gentle shake. This will remove any loose crumbs and dust. Use compressed air to spray between the keys or a vacuum on its lowest setting.

Step 3. Clean Around the Keys

Lightly dip a Q-tip in isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and get right into the narrow gaps surrounding each key. Try it out first on an inconspicuous part of the keyboard, to make sure that the rubbing alcohol isn’t going to cause discoloration or remove the lettering on the keys.

Sanitize the Keyboard Image - ST

Step 4. Sanitize the Keyboard

Get a disinfectant wipe and clean along the tops of all the keys and surfaces. Keys such as the enter/return, delete and spacebar are heavily used, so you may need to concentrate more on those areas to to remove buildup. 

Step 5.Dust and Polish

Use a dry, lint-free microfiber cloth to get rid of any dust and give the keyboard a polish.

Remove the Keys Image - ST

Step 6. Last Resort – Remove the Keys

If your laptop keyboard requires a more heavy-duty clean, then you may have to remove the keys. This is really a last resort for really filthy laptop keyboards because it’s fiddly and very easy to make a mistake. 

Before you start, do a quick internet search on your laptop brand to make sure that the keys are able to be taken off.  You have to be super careful because the keys are usually only held on by fragile tabs of plastic.

Once all the keys are off and stored safely, run a fresh sanitizer wipe over the bare keyboard and scrub any stubborn stains with a Q-tip. Pop the keys back on. (Tip: take a photo of your keyboard first so you know exactly where each key goes). 


Keep some antibacterial wipes in your desk drawer and regularly give your keyboard a wipe. If it is a shared computer you are best to do this every day. If you are the only one using it, and haven’t been sick, then weekly should be enough. 

Don’t forget to clean your laptop screen too! It may not get as dirty as the keyboard, but it still needs a regular wipe. 


How often do you clean your laptop keyboard? Has this post made you want to clean it more often? What are your top tips on how to clean your laptop keyboard? Let me know in the comments below!Klean Offz Call to Action

Your Keyboard: Dirtier Than a Toilet
How to Clean Your Keyboard

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