February 27, 2009

Clean Keyboard.

Clean Keyboard., originally uploaded by iMachias.

I have been a tech guy for a really long time. In fact, I’ve been using instant messenger and e-mail since 1984 when I used a service called GEnie to send e-mail to my cousin who lived 10 miles away. I have been connected to the world via computer since that first day of dial-up (and a huge long distance bill) and have always obeyed once cardinal rule: Never Get Thy Computer Wet!

This has all changed. A while back I saw a on one of the regular tech shows that I watch that you can clean your grimy keyboard by running it through the dishwasher. I thought this was outright blasphemy, but last year when I was cleaning out the cellar and throwing away old crappy keyboards I had inherited over the years, I found one that was particularly grimy. Since the keyboard was destined for the dustbin anyway, I decided to put the suggestion to the test and I ran it through the dishwasher.

That keyboard is now a prized possession in my server room!

Not only did the keyboard survive the dishwasher, it looked sparkly and shiny new like it had never looked before. I have now started up a “rotation system” with the keyboards in the tech center at work and have promised to replace any keyboard that I might bork by running it through the dishwasher.

Here’s how I do it with a couple of tips that I have found along the way.

  • I have that this works with both PS2 and USB keyboards. I HIGHLY recommend that you don’t put your entire notebook or laptop in the dishwasher to clean the keyboard. That’s just silly.
  • I have only put one Apple keyboard through the dishwasher and that was an older Apple Pro Keyboard with the black keys. I have another one (with the white keys, but still the older kind) that I’m going to try soon. If you’re interested I’ll post the results).
  • Do NOT use the ‘heated dry’ cycle. That will melt things.
  • I have tried this both by including the keyboard with the dinner dishes on a cycle and by running it through alone. Both work, but watch out if you have rice or something on your plates, it ends up under the backspace key and doesn’t make a very good at desk snack later on.
  • Allow your keyboard to dry with the keys facing down for ONE WEEK after you run it through the dishwasher. Don’t try to plug it in when it’s fresh and shiny as that will definitely short something out. Just pull it out of the dishwasher and put it on a dish towel or something with the keys facing down so any extraneous water can drain out.
  • As I said before, I’ve done this with USB keyboards as well as PC/2 keyboards. I have even cleaned a Dell keyboard with a volume knob, two extra USB ports and a bunch of extraneous lights without an issue.
  • I assume no responsibility for any experience you have with trying this.

Having a keyboard that’s devoid of the typical geek grime one finds on a heavily used keyboard is a beautiful thing. Happy cleaning!