By April 14, 2006

Cleaning Your Keyboard

I’ve had my Microsoft Elite ergonomic keyboard for about four or five years now. I’ve always clocked in many hours in front of the keyboard, but now that I work from home I’m probably on-key for 14+ hours a day. The result of this activity is a very nasty keyboard that was begging for a replacement.


Now, I wasn’t ready to just throw the keyboard in the trash. I had read a guide about how to clean your keyboard in the dish washer. Would it work? Who knows — but if I was due for a new keyboard anyway, why not give it a shot?

I unscrewed the keyboard and took it apart. Following the directions from Rabid Hardware carefully, I laid aside the thin plastic sheets, the LEDs, the rubber strip, and the PCB + PS/2 jack. I washed the membranes by hand, and the rest of the hard plastic went into the dish washer. I ran the machine on “light,” and waited for my experiment to complete.

The dish washer completed its cycle. I wasn’t expecting anything bad, but I was happy to see that my keyboard pieces weren’t melted to shit. Unlike the author of the Rabid Hardware guide, I did not have any compressed air, so I had to air dry the key clusters overnight.

I have to say, it came out pretty well — only the deep-rooted coffee stain remained.

I reassembled the keyboard with trepidation. Had I killed my long-time companion? I noticed that the LEDs had come detached from the plastic sheets. I was worried that they wouldn’t work when I put everything back together. The reassembly took less than five minutes, and I eagerly plugged my newly-washed keyboard back into my workstation.


Hrm. Maybe the computer was having a hard time recognizing the keyboard via the PS/2 port. I rebooted using the mouse.


I did a full shut down.


I tried Lady Jaye’s keyboard.


Oh damn. At least it wasn’t my keyboard: I managed to kill the PS/2 port by plugging and unplugging the keyboard while the computer was still on. Once my heart started beating again, I dug out a PS/2 to USB converter and plugged my keyboard into my motherboard. Everything worked fine — including my LEDs 🙂

Final score: Clean keyboard 1, PS/2 Port 0

1 Comment on "Cleaning Your Keyboard"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. configuratrix says:

    Neat! I probably won’t bother with such cleaning of my home keyboard since it’s not ergonomic anyway (upgrade opportunity), but it’s still good to know.