Is it okay to vacuum a laptop keyboard?

  • dsafdsf

    Is it okay to vacuum a laptop keyboard? Would it cause any damage?

  • Answers
  • Mehper C. Palavuzlar

    You can use vacuum cleaner, but make sure your laptop's keyboard doesn't have "pop off" keys that could possibly be sucked up by the vacuum.

    A can of compressed air will safely blow dust right out of the little crevices between your keys.

    You may want to read this article from LifeHacker.

  • music2myear

    There are small (usually USB-powered) vacuums that you can use that do not generate enough force, nor have large enough intakes, to suck the keys of the board.

    Most laptops keyboards have pop-off keys and a normal vacuum will take those keys right off. Those that have what are sometimes called "chiclet" keys do not generally pop off and should be safe from this particular hazard.

    However, a more serious problem is the static charge that the friction from the airflow will create. For this reason it is never recommended to use a normal vacuum for cleaning any computer, ever. Canned air does not create this problem, and there are special electronics vacuums that are properly grounded and use other special components that are much less likely to generate enough of a static charge to damage the sensitive electronic components in a computer. Even these electronics vacuums, though, have no protection against sucking keys off keyboards.

    For these reasons, I would recommend against using a vacuum to clean any part of any computer. Canned air should be sufficient for your needs. It's also cheap.

  • Related Question

    Cleaning a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 keyboard
  • Clay Nichols

    This is one of the best keyboards for programmers. I read an article saying that running a keyboard through the dishwasher would clean it, but I'm unsure about a keyboard like this which has a faux leather wrist guard. Any suggestions?

  • Related Answers
  • Brian Vallelunga

    I just put my Ergonomic 4000 keyboard through the dishwasher and I'm happy to report it works perfectly.

    Here's what I recommend:

    • Use the top rack
    • Face the keys downward
    • Use little/no soap
    • Remove before drying cycle

    After the washing, I shook it out as best as possible and then let it sit in a hot room for three days. After plugging it back in, everything worked great.

    I did have a bit of white soap residue on the palm rest that I was easily able to remove with a wet sponge.

  • Andomar

    Here's a guide that I found useful:

    • Unplug it from the computer. While this might seem obvious, some people might go commando and use the thing while in the process of cleaning it. You've been warned. ;-)
    • Remove (no exaggeration) 21 screws from the underside.
    • Place right side up and wiggle off the faux-leather wrist rests.
    • Remove a screw from under each of the newly-removed wrist rests.
    • Find a small flathead screwdriver (or some other flat prying object), slide under the front edge of the space bar and gently give it a twist. The spacebar should pop right out. Set it aside.
    • Remove two silver screws and then remove the top cover. Note that this will require some wiggling becase there are a few plastic catches sort-of holding it in place, such as in front below the F-Lock light.
    • If your keyboard is anything like mine was, you'll need to be able to clean under what's left, so remove 4 more screws under where the Back and Forward buttons normally are along with the metal bar they hold down.
    • Remove the silicone overlays.

    When placing the space bar back, remember to start with metal spring inside the spacebar.


  • Kelsey

    I have one and I just hold it upside down and use pressurized air along all the key edges. Cleans out all the little human leavins :)

    Unscrewing it though and getting under the keys would be your best method.

  • Chelmite

    Putting an electronic keyboard, especially this one, through a dishwasher is not a good idea, unless you want to sell more keyboards. The inside of the keyboard is made up of three plastic layers sandwiched together. The top and bottom layers have metal wires laid out like a printed circuit board. The middle layer is an insulator, but with holes that line up with each of the keys on the keyboard. Metal traces on the top and bottom of each hole are separated by air in the thickness of the middle layer of plastic. When a key is not pressed, these metal traces do not touch one another. When a key is pressed, the top layer is pressed down into the hole until the metal trace at the top touches the metal trace at the bottom and completes the circuit. When you let up on the key, the plastic returns to its original position with the metal traces not touching.

    Now, what happens when you introduce water? The top and bottom layers of plastic do not have any exposed holes near these switches, so water can't enter there. However, the Achilles heal is the edge of the plastic and the alignment holes that go through all 3 layers. When a liquid hits an edge or one of these through-holes, the layers of plastic act like a capillary, and draw the liquid between the layers. Everything is still okay...until the liquid finds its way to one of the switch contacts. The liquid can short out a switch contact and it will act as if the key is permanently pressed. Other liquids, for example, the milk that my kids spilled on the keyboard, will wick into the plastic, turn to cheese, and could act as an insulator or a conductor.

    I tried taking the keyboard apart, peeling apart the 3 layers, which are not fastened to each other, cleaning, drying, and re-assembling. It still didn't work, so my kids are splitting the cost of a new keyboard.

  • zimmer62

    I use rubbing alcohol and some cuetips on each key, it takes a while, but the results look pretty good.

    As for the faux leather pad, I've just used general office cleaner, or windex.

    It's not as nice as a dishwasher idea, but I'm terrified of washing a keyboard in the dishwasher. I'd imagine people with hard water or other mineral additives might end up damaging their keyboards.

  • Journeyman Geek

    Unless your keyboard was made in the 70s, its not a good idea.

    In addition to what people suggested earlier

    For very dirty conventional keyboards, i'd recommend a wipe with a damp cloth the get the surface dirt off, pop off the keytops (photographing it first if you can!), and putting it a delicates (steal one from the missus!) bag before putting JUST the keys in the washing machine for a quick, cold water cycle.

    For between keys or places you can't scrub, or general dust removal, especially on non removable keytops . i tend to use something called cyberclean to clean between keyboards. Ars technica's review wasn't very positive, but the stuff works, just smush it on your keyboard and the crud stucks to it - a 9 dollar jar of the stuff lasts for 3-6 months for general keyboard cleaning, so its pretty worth it.