Apparently, people are having success washing their old dirty keyboards in the dishwasher, thereby extending their useful life Do not in any way do this and then, when it goes horribly wrong, blame me for telling you about it. Also, not recommended for laptops. [43 folders]

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  1. ShadowFalls says:

    Do not do this to your wireless keyboards either.

  2. gman863 says:

    Short of someone blowing chow on it, you don’t usually need your KitchenAid and Cascade to clean your keyboard.

    You SHOULD, however, disinfect your keyboard, mouse and phone regularly — especially if kids and/or co-workers share it.

    ABC News’ “20/20″ did a story on this a few years ago. They swabbed keyboards and phones in their newsroom and compared them with swabs from the restrooms. Result: the keyboards and phones had about TWENTY TIMES the number of germs versus the toilet seat and flush handle (remember – unlike electronics, toilets and sinks in an office are cleaned daily).

    If you don’t want to spend $$$ on disinfecting wipes, buy a bottle of rubbing alcohol and use a napkin or paper towel. As a last resort, use hand sanitizer.

    It’s worth it – by being a little on the anal side, I’ve missed the last two waves of “stomach bugs” that have invaded my employer.

  3. humphrmi says:

    About 15 years ago, I owned a small home computer repair shop. My partner had a unique way to repair those odd problems that couldn’t be traced back to an electrical problem or otherwise clearly faulty component, but still persisted… he would take the faulty equipment completely apart into as many components as possible, and then wash them all in soapy water, dry them, and the reassemble them back together. We’re talking keyboards, mice, printers, etc.

    Oddly enough, it worked most of the time. He never tried it on a hard drive.

  4. Trae says:

    This is an old trick that’s been well known for a while. The key is that the keyboard is TOTALLY DRY before you plug it back into anything that involves power.

    So no, you shouldn’t try this with a wireless keyboard.

  5. Bryan Price says:

    I’ve actually done this without any problems. I had a MS ergo keyboard (the first slanted one, I’m using a MS 4000 keyboard now) that was having issues because of “stuff” causing the keys to stick. Should I mention that there were teen-aged boys around? Although I believe that it was a can of Coke that actually was the culprit. Maybe. That was at least one of the keyboards.

    It went through on the top shelf, got left out to dry for three days, got plugged in and worked fine until the Escape key decided to quit working. Which was a pain, as that particular computer needed an occasional BIOS setting tweaked, and you had to have an escape key to make it save the settings. I’ve gone through three of the originals (can’t think of what they were called right this minute) two white and one black (which was evidently an OEM version) all of which had keys that stopped working as the reason to trash them and then I had an Internet Pro which had all of the special keys die on me before it finally started killing other keys.

    And now I’m on my MS 4000. I can type on a regular keyboard, but I find these types of keyboards to be easier to type on, definitely better than the laptop keyboard I’ve had to use on occasion, where I’m always turning on the caps lock when I use the shift key.

  6. timmus says:

    The advice about drying is correct… I have done washing of electronic components and have observed drops of water persisting for WEEKS inside enclosures. You’ll definitely want a hairdryer (on low) and a metric ton of paper towels.

  7. XTC46 says:

    you can soak any electronic you want in water as long as there is no power and it wont be damaged. The problem comes when you power it on, or the water corrodes the item. I have washed my cell phone a few times by mistake I just pop the battery off before trying to turn it on, blow dry it and let it sit a day or two then its good to go.

  8. Bluntzilla says:

    I’ve washed my wireless logitech (first gen) in the sink many times. Though I will agree with everyone else that drying is the key to having it work correctly again.

  9. TechnoDestructo says:

    If you don’t want to have to take the thing apart or wait for ages for it to dry thoroughly:

    Turn the keyboard upside down. Bang out all the crumbs and skin flakes and whatnot.

    Then, holding it upside down so that the moisture can’t get into the guts of the keyboard, spray windex on it. Hold it there for 30-60 seconds, then start scrubbing with your towel, sponge, or whatever.

    All that keyboard smegma will wipe right off with a little windex.

  10. louisb3 says:

    @Trae: Forgive my ignorance, but from what source do wireless keyboards draw their power (which makes them unsafe for dishwashing)?

  11. Womblebug says:

    You’d do better soaking it in isopropyl alcohol, especially the higher-percentage stuff. It evaporates much more quickly and cleanly than water. They use something similar to clean commercial and industrial electronics.

  12. witeowl says:

    It seems to me that so long as you’re smart enough to remove the batteries from the wireless keyboard, you should be able to put it in the dishwasher (or shower).

  13. FLConsumer says:

    I use isopropyl alcohol with my 15-20 year old IBM Model M keyboards, no problems thus far… BUT you do need to make sure it’s completely dry first. Hugely important.

  14. emona says:

    @xtc46: My cell phone survived a coating of gin that way, when I dropped the shaker straight on it. I popped everything out immediately, washed it with a damp paper towel, and dried it overnight. Good as new.

  15. ShadowFalls says:

    @louisb3:

    Wireless keyboards tend to have more circuit boards and are more prone to hold water in various areas you may not notice while the rest of it seems dry.

  16. Aladdyn says:

    I believe its not a good idea to immerse or otherwise heavily soak a capacitor in water. Also if you want to get rid of some water you can always use WD-40 the name stands for water displacement, formula 40.

  17. tadowguy says:

    A new keyboard costs like $3 or you can get one for free if you work at a company that uses lots of computers anyway. This does not of course apply to any fantsy-pants keyboards!

  18. iamme99 says:

    I tried this with an old keyboard a while back and it didn’t work.

    So this time when I wanted to clean one of those Microsoft Ergo keyboards, I took it it apart. I was amazed at the amount of crud in it! I cleaned everything separately in the sink and let it dry completely.

    Unfortunately, it didn’t work on reassembly. I think I know what might be wrong but I have to take the whole thing apart again.

  19. missdona says:

    A couple of times a year, I pop all the keys out of my keyboard and wash them in the sink. If I had a dishwasher I would put them in there and I wipe down the base.

  20. bentcorner says:

    Spray silicone works good as well as diluted liquid fabric softener.

  21. Agreeing with most people here – as long as the keyboard isn’t a wireless one (which provides its own power and will short out even if you have the batteries out), all keyboards will work fine after being in the dishwasher. Just make sure 1) you don’t use any soap (it leaves residue inside) and 2) you let it dry for at LEAST 48 hours, preferably in a warm room like the laundry room.

    And, in fact, it’s very easy for most laptop keyboards, too. By the numbers on your laptop keyboard, there are occasionally very subtle switches (usually between 4 and 5, 8 and 9). Flicking these down to the bottom of your keyboard should unlock it, and you should be able to pry off the keyboard (pry from under the plastic, not from under the keys themselves!). However, this doesn’t work for all laptop keyboards, as there are some models without the switches, and some models that have screws that go from the bottom of the laptop into the keyboard. Don’t pry too hard, or you might break something.

  22. BustedWheel says:

    My laptop is a little grungy, maybe i’ll throw it in the washer with my next load of darks.

  23. STrRedWolf says:

    You note that the keyboards were left to dry for *FIVE DAYS* at the minimum. While use of an alcohol spray (the more pure rubbing alcohol the better) will help speed dry time, it’s still going to take a while for it to dry.

  24. witeowl says:

    @Dragontologist: What? How do wireless keyboards provide their own power, leading to the possibility of shorting “even if you have the batteries out”?

    There being more delicate circuitry and more spots for water to secretly remain, I can believe. But battery-free power?

    How does it work, and do the power companies know about it?

  25. vanilla-fro says:

    @gman863: Toilet seats and fluch handles are alos made with materials that don’t exactly promote bacterial growth. not that a keyboard is, but keyboards seem to be more porous.

  26. jgodsey says:

    this is kinda the stupidest topic.
    serves them right for buying pricey keyboards

    to me a keyboard is tool, a pen or a pencil
    though i do clean it from time to time – especially getting out all the cat hair. i usually buy a new one every 18-14 months. i don’t buy the cheapest but i buy the 2nd or 3rd cheapest. under $24.

    the one i have now which has lasted quite a while, came from the recycle pile at the dump. people throw the entire pc away including perfectly good keyboards.

  27. SacraBos says:

    I would suggest that after washing your keyboard/etc that you RINSE it with distilled water (deionized, if possible) before you dry it. Part of the problem with wet electronics is not the water itself, but the minerals as well. Distilled water will dry without leaving any conductive/corrosive residue.

    I don’t think I’d use a dishwasher, since the detergents tend to be rather caustic (sodium hydroxide, etc) and can damage and corrode fine wire traces on the boards. Use a gentle soap or just take it along with you when you take a shower.

    Otherwise, this is actually a good idea.

  28. pearlandopal says:

    @jgodsey: Some people who spend a lot of time on their computers prefer to work with devices that aren’t pieces of crap. Some people also have repetitive motion injuries, or preferences, or whatever that motivate them to buy something nicer that is kinder to their hands. I have wrist issues, so I bought a pen tablet to use at work rather than a standard mouse. The wrist issues are much less frequent. Sure, I can’t dump it in the dishwasher, but why would I want to?

  29. Nodren says:

    i’ve done this quite a few times, and honestly, it works great, just take out the circuits inside first, i have an older logitech wireless keyboard, it was quite simple to dis mantle, and it came out of the dish washer quite clean!

    and putting the one circuit back in, it worked great… heck of alot cheaper than a new keyboard.

    but seriously, dont be to intimidated to open yours, its really not that complex inside.

  30. theblackdog says:

    I did the dishwasher trick a few months ago to my HP keyboard. No soap in the dishwasher, left it to dry for a few days, plugged it back in, and it was as good as new.

    Best part was that it cleaned about 5 years worth of dirt and crap off, dating back to my college days :-D

  31. disavow says:

    With some keyboards you can remove the keypad entirely, so that there’s no risk of circuitry damaged.

    Anyone who decides to try this, use the top shelf!

  32. RhymePhile says:

    Now if someone could create a magical potion that will restore all the missing letters on my keyboard, which have worn away. I don’t want to throw out a perfectly functional keyboard, but it kinda drives me nuts.

  33. FLConsumer says:

    @tadowguy: If you do any amount of typing, there’s a huge difference between a $3 keyboard and a $60 keyboard (talking hardwired, not wireless). That’s why I’m still using the 15-20 year old IBM Model M keyboards. Absolutely noisy (clicky), but I’ve yet to find a keyboard that can match it for durability and responsiveness. When a keyboard manufacturer goes through the added expense of weighting each key separately, depending on which finger(s) will usually be hitting it, you’ll notice a huge difference.

    Also, supposedly the buckling-spring design doesn’t contribute to RSI/carpal tunel. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’ve been typing on these keyboards daily for at least 15 years and still no problems with carpal tunnel. No wrist rests used either.