How To Clean A Laptop Keyboard Without Removing The Keys

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byPenny
How To Clean A Laptop Keyboard Without Removing The Keys

If you work from home and use a keyboard all day as I do, it can get clogged up with crumbs. The surface can get tacky and the keys can even start to stick. Typing becomes a tricky business!

In the post, I am going to take you through how you can easily surface clean a laptop keyboard without removing the keys. If you find that the keys are still sticky I have a solution for you too, because usually, taking off sticky keys for cleaning is actually not that hard.

One of my readers wrote to me recently, panicking because she had spilt soda all over her laptop keyboard and now the keys are sticky, and she can’t afford a replacement. Well, I have great news dear reader, follow this guide and you won’t have to shell out for a brand new laptop.

Need a quick answer? Check out this summary and read on when you have more time.

To clean your laptop quickly, turn it upside down and shake it out to remove loose debris. Then use a can of compressed air to blow out the rest of the dirt. Take some clear tape and push it under the keys to dislodge stuck-on dirt. Then wipe the surface with some cleaning slime and then a disinfecting wipe. Dry with a microfibre glass cleaning cloth.

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How to clean a sticky laptop keyboard without removing keys

Laptop keyboards are a little more cumbersome to clean than desktop keyboards. You can’t detach the keyboard from the computer so it can make it awkward to clean.

If you follow these steps, you should be able to bring your keyboard back looking new and even stop the keys from sticking. However, don’t be discouraged if your efforts still result in sticky keys. Read further down this post to find out how to remove those sticky keys easily, clean underneath and then pop them back.

Things you’ll need to clean your sticky laptop keyboard

Amadear Keyboard Cleaning Gel,4Pack Dust Slime Cleaner for Computer Magic Dust Keyboard Soft Mud for PC Tablet Laptop, Air Vents, Camera, Printers, Calculator, Car Dash, Air Vent, Fan
Amadear Keyboard Cleaning Gel,4Pack Dust Slime Cleaner for Computer Magic Dust Keyboard Soft Mud for PC Tablet Laptop, Air Vents, Camera, Printers, Calculator, Car Dash, Air Vent, Fan
Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, Bleach Free Cleaning Wipes, Household Essentials, Fresh Scent, Moisture Seal Lid, 75 Wipes, Pack of 3 (New Packaging)
Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, Bleach Free Cleaning Wipes, Household Essentials, Fresh Scent, Moisture Seal Lid, 75 Wipes, Pack of 3 (New Packaging)
Amazon Basics Matte-finish Tape, Tape Refills, 6 Pack, Translucence, 0.78" W x 27.8 yds
Amazon Basics Matte-finish Tape, Tape Refills, 6 Pack, Translucence, 0.78" W x 27.8 yds
iDuster Disposable Compressed Duster, Computer Cleaner, Keyboard Cleaner, 1 Pack, 10 oz
iDuster Disposable Compressed Duster, Computer Cleaner, Keyboard Cleaner, 1 Pack, 10 oz

Step 1 – Turn off and unplug your laptop

It goes without saying, but don’t attempt to clean your laptop keyboard when the power is on!

Step 2 – Turn upside down

Turn your laptop upside down so that any loose debris falls out immediately.

Step 3 – Blow out debris

Now blow out more debris with your compressed air can. If you don’t have any compressed air you can use your vacuum cleaner with the crevice tool on a low setting to lightly suck out the dirt and dust.

You can also buy mini vacuums especially for cleaning keyboards:

Hayousui 4.3Kpa Keyboard Vacuum Cleaner Mini:Handheld Computer Vacuum Cordless for Car Laptop Sewing Machine Portable Keyboard Vac USB Desk Crumbs Dust Cleaners
Hayousui 4.3Kpa Keyboard Vacuum Cleaner Mini:Handheld Computer Vacuum Cordless for Car Laptop Sewing Machine Portable Keyboard Vac USB Desk Crumbs Dust Cleaners

Step 4 – Apply tape underneath the keys

Take some adhesive tape and slide the sticky side under the keys as far as it will go.

Step 5 – Roll cleaning slime over the keys

Take your cleaning slime and roll it over the keys to pick up more dirt. This stuff is great for getting into little spots that are difficult to reach.

Step 6 – Wipe over the top of the laptop keyboard

Take an antibacterial wipe and run it over all the keys and around them. Then take a dry microfibre glass cleaning cloth and wipe over the top.

Care Touch Microfiber Cleaning Cloths, 6 Pack - Cleans Glasses, Lenses, Phones, Screens, Other Delicate Surfaces - Large Lint Free Microfiber Cloths - Eye Glass Clean Cloths - 6" x 7" (Navy Blue)
Care Touch Microfiber Cleaning Cloths, 6 Pack - Cleans Glasses, Lenses, Phones, Screens, Other Delicate Surfaces - Large Lint Free Microfiber Cloths - Eye Glass Clean Cloths - 6" x 7" (Navy Blue)

Step 7 – Leave to dry

Don’t switch your keyboard back on until you are sure your keys are dry.

Now you know how to clean your laptop keyboard without removing the keys, why not clean the screen too? Here’s how to clean your laptop screen without getting streaks.

Can't get motivated to clean?
Find out how to TRICK Yourself Into Cleaning Up
#10 works for me every time use it!

Related reading:

How to clean a Lenovo Thinkpad keyboard TrackPoint

I include some special directions for Lenovo Thinkpad keyboards because that is the laptop I own (and I love it by the way!).

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 20FQ 14 Flip Design 2-in-1 Ultrabook, i7-6500U, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, 14 FHD (1920x1080) IPS Anti-glare, Back-lit, Windows 10 Pro (20FQ001VUS) (Renewed)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 20FQ 14 Flip Design 2-in-1 Ultrabook, i7-6500U, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, 14 FHD (1920x1080) IPS Anti-glare, Back-lit, Windows 10 Pro (20FQ001VUS) (Renewed)

Thinkpad keyboards are a little different to other laptops because they have a little red TrackPoint in the middle which you can use in place of a traditional mouse. That little zit (as I like to call it) saved my wrists, which were suffering badly from constant use of the mouse. It was mouse clicking that caused the RSI issue all the way up my arm. When I switched to a Thinkpad and got used to the red spot my RSI disappeared, it was amazing!

lenovo thinkpad laptop keyboard

Cleaning the whole keyboard will be the same as above. Here are some special directions for cleaning the red TrackPoint in particular.

Things you’ll need to clean your red TrackPoint

Step 1 – Remove the TrackPoint cap

You can usually remove the red cap with your fingers if they are small enough. If you are having trouble getting it out, use some tweezers to prize it out.

Step 2 – Clean the TrackPoint cap

Take your soft toothbrush and gently scrub the top of the TrackPoint cap with a small amount of toothpaste until the dust and dirt is removed.

If the red cap is worn down consider replacing it. I buy my replacements on Amazon pretty cheaply. Now I always have some spare.

JNSupplier 6 PCS TrackPoint Keyboard Mouse Red Cap Soft Dome Laptop Pointer for IBM Lenovo ThinkPad
JNSupplier 6 PCS TrackPoint Keyboard Mouse Red Cap Soft Dome Laptop Pointer for IBM Lenovo ThinkPad

Step 3 – Clean underneath the TrackPoint

Use a can of compressed air to blow out debris from the area around the TrackPoint.

Step 4 – Replace the TrackPoint cap

Allow to dry and then replace the TrackPoint cap with your fingers or tweezers.

How to remove sticky laptop keyboard keys and clean underneath

If all your efforts to get your keyboard clean haven’t worked so well and the keys are still sticking, the next step will be to remove the keys.

Removing sticky keys and cleaning underneath can bring them back to perfect working order. Removing the keys isn’t that hard, it will take a little time and can be a little fiddly.

Please note that what follows are general directions. There is a possibility you could damage your laptop. Please check out the manufacturer’s directions for removing and cleaning the keys for your particular keyboard.

Here’s how to remove your sticky keyboard keys easily so you can clean underneath:

Before you start, switch off and unplug your laptop.

Step 1 – Take a photo of your keyboard

Before you start I recommend you take a picture of your keyboard so you will know where each key goes when you put it back. The last thing you need is to find the wrong letter comes out when you use it!

lenovo laptop keyboard

Step 2 – Use a screwdriver or your finger to lever off a key

Depending on the type of keyboard you have, use a flathead screwdriver or your finger to gently lever off a single key.

I have a Lenovo Thinkpad laptop. The keys can be removed with just the tip of your finger. I used my finger to lever off the key on the top right and then the same on the top left.

removing lenovo thinkpad key

Step 3 – Clean the area underneath the key

Take a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and gently rub over the area where you removed the key.

cleaning underneath a lenovo thinkpad key

Step 4 – Clean the key

Clean the key with a damp microfiber cloth.

Step 5 – Allow the key to dry and then pop back on

When the key is fully dry, the key should pop back into place easily.

Repeat the above steps for all the keys.

Here are some quick links for key removal for different laptops:

Sparkling Penny

Penny | Sparkling Penny

Penny’s expert cleaning advice has been featured repeatedly by Homes and Gardens Magazine, and also at wikiHow, The Daily Express Newspaper, and Glam Magazine to name a few! SparklingPenny.com was founded in 2019 and has since helped millions of people achieve a cleaner living space.


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