Dishwasher + Keyboard = ?

My keyboard at work has been getting too dirty, so I started thinking about how to clean it.

A colleague suggested that a dishwasher works fine, so I put it on the top shelf of the dishwasher with the plug wrapped in clingfilm and hit go on an “eco” wash which is slightly cooler.

I pulled it out before the trying was complete as I worried that the drying was warmer and might damage the plastic keyboard. It turns out that the dishwasher gave the keyboard a good soak, but still needed a good wipe with a cloth to actually get the dirt of the keys, so the dishwasher was not enough on it’s own.

As for drying – 2 days of drying left me with a keyboard that did not work. Dismantling and spreading out the layers of the membrane over an air vent for half a day did work, with the keyboard now working properly, and clean!

The keyboard rest did get a bit discoloured, so if you are cleaning your keyboard I suggest cleaning the keys by hand with a damp cloth (maybe with some washing up soap), and then popping off most of the keys to get in underneath them to get the dirt out from there.

The dishwasher didn’t really do much except add a long time to the drying stage

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About Anton Piatek

Professional bit herder, amateur photographer. Linux and tech geek
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3 Responses to Dishwasher + Keyboard = ?

  1. Richard Appleby says:

    I have several old IBM Model M keyboards.
    On those you can remove the keycaps from the actual keys, put them in one of those little drawstring mesh bags that used to come with washing powder, and then put them in a normal wash with your clothes. The agitating action of the washing machine results in the keycaps coming out sparkling clean.
    Meanwhile, to do the rest of the keyboard you really need to disassemble it, but they were designed for that, and are easy to take apart and put back together again, allowing all the plastic covers to be scrubbed clean if necessary. The actual circuit board with the key mechanisms on it can then finally be brushed clean of any crumbs etc before you reassemble it all.
    The noisy clickity-clack of those keyboards (and the modern equivalent “DAS keyboards”) means that you may not be able to live with it though. It’s like marmite; you either love it or hate it!

  2. Anton says:

    Actually, most new keyboards allow you to pop off the key, as all the spring action is in the rubber inside the keyboard. The same technique would probably have worked very well for me.

    I actually have an IBM Model M somewhere, I love the feel of the keys, but did find it particularly loud to type on…

  3. Richard Appleby says:

    The model M’s are noisy, but do have a lovely feel to them. The one drawback has to be that it’s painfully obvious if I’m on a teleconference and becoming bored … clickity clickity clickity!

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