Is it okay to vacuum a laptop keyboard? Would it cause any damage?
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.
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.
I remember Joel mentioning it on a the stackoverflow podcast that you could wash a laptop under a tap.
Has anyone done this? Is there not parts that would just rust up when drying the laptop?
I've seen demonstrations of similar things. Nobody washing their laptop, but somebody actually rescuing it from rain or submersion. Instead of just sitting it out, they immediately removed the battery, and turned the laptop on its side to allow all fluids to drain out. After a couple days, re-insert the battery and they were up and running.
I cannot vouch that this will be the case for everybody else on just any laptop. Each case would be unique.
No. Oy vey. Not for washing.
If your laptop falls in the toilet, or you spill coke all over it, or you leave it out on the rain, here's the best advice for trying to salvage it.
This is NOT a recommended procedure, just something to do in an emergency if you've dumped your milkshake inside your laptop, right on the motherboard, to improve the chances that it survives.
Some modern laptops are somewhat spill-proof in the sense that they are actually designed to drain spilled coffee through channels beneath the keyboard.
I have heard from Leo Laporte that he regularly puts keyboards through the dishwasher. Keyboards are ten bucks so there's not much to risk here. Two key points: do not put anything else in the dishwasher, do not, for the love of god, use soap, and let them dry for TWO WEEKS.
I have a $1400 laptop so, common sense would say not to risk it. BUT . . . once a month, I remove the battery and the memory and toss it in the dishwasher without soap. After the wash, I set it on it's cooling fan base, set up a hair dryer to blow into it, and let it sit for 2 hours. Pop the memory and the battery back in and PRESTO! I have a clean, perfectly working gaming laptop. If you're wondering how, it's simple: The hair dryer induces quick drying. But to keep from causing heat damage inside, you put the cooling fan underneath to draw out the heated air. Hair dryer + cooling fan = hot air flowing through the laptop (a lot like the fan in your car) and drying it before anything that can rust, does rust. Maybe not worth the risk to some of you, but it can be done.
Not that I have washed my laptop, I would think that as long as it dried completely it would work. It would have to dry fast and thoroughly though for it to be usable. However, I wouldn't ever do this nor would I suggest it to anybody else. Also the battery would have to be removed before anything takes place.