MacMost Now 86: Washing Your Keyboard

Gary Rosenzweig talks about his success in putting his Mac keyboard in the dishwasher, and the risk you take when you try.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary Rosenzweig, with another squeaky clean episode of MacMost Now. Hey, check this out! Brand new keyboard...or is it a brand new keyboard? Actually, this is a pretty old keyboard, I just put it through the dishwasher. Let me tell you about it on this episode.(Title Screen) You may want to wash your keyboard because you spilled something on it or maybe just cause it's plain dirty. Kinda like this one, ew. So this is one of those great new super thin aluminum keyboards that I love so much. This is actually the one I used everyday for probably about the last 5, 6 months or so, but last week I kinda spilled something on it. Didn't break it, but it did make it kinda sticky on some of the keys. They wouldn't kinda pop back up as quickly, so seeing as how I use it all the time for everything I do online, I went and got myself another keyboard, and then I said let me see if I could save this one. So I stuck it in the dishwasher as I have done so many times before with so many different keyboards. The difference is, this aluminum keyboard from Apple, doesn't really open up in any way. I always relied on the fact that I could put the keyboard in the dishwasher and then when it was done I could open up the keyboard and let it dry. This one, I couldn't. I had to basically hope that it would dry on its own. So the process I've used in the past with keyboards is: put it in the dishwasher as is, then when it's done, undo all the screws. Open up the keyboard as much as you can, especially separating the plastic sheets that are usually inside a keyboard. Put a fan on it and let it dry. I rely a lot on Colorado's very dry climate to help it dry. I know in more humid climates it could take much longer, but I have been able to dry keyboards, basically overnight with a fan on them and they work just fine. So the result with this keyboard was, it didn't work fine overnight. I mean, I couldn't open it up so I just turned a fan on it. Then it stood overnight and certainly didn't work the next morning. Everything I hit seemed to be some sort of function key or a combination of keys. So I let it basically sit with the fan for about 2 or 3 days. And then I tried it and it worked great! So it does work with this keyboard, but be warned: It worked for me, may not work for you. There certainly is a risk factor when washing a keyboard. So here's a couple of ways to minimize the risk. So the first thing you want is, you do not want to wash you main keyboard. So in other words if the keyboard is broken or too dirty to use, get another keyboard. This is now your backup keyboard and if it works, GREAT! Hey, free keyboard! Second thing is, be prepared to lose the keyboard completely. I mean, just write it off. The keyboard's not gonna work, right? And if it does work, great! The third thing is, be prepared to let it sit and dry for a long time because chances are if it isn't working, the reason is there's water trapped in it. The water eventually should evaporate, I mean if the water got in there, it should be able to get out. So if it doesn't work after 3 days, 5 days, a week...who knows you may need to put it away somewhere in a nice, warm, dry place and check it again in a month. One thing you should consider anyway is having a backup keyboard at all times. You can get USB keyboards for as little as seven dollars at some stores or online. So have a backup keyboard somewhere or maybe you just have one from an old MAC or an old computer or something. If you have a backup keyboard, you know you won't miss anytime on your computer if you happen to spill something or it just inexplicably breaks. I mean think about it, if you could have your entire computer, just a duplicate of it, ready to go at a moment's notice for only seven dollars, wouldn't you? Well, a keyboard's the same way. I mean it's your only keyboards and it breaks, for seven bucks you can keep going a minute later. Apple keyboards are notoriously hard to work on. I mean, this one's got no screws in it. Previous versions had either no screws or very few screws not enough screws to actually get to the material inside the keyboard. But third party USB keyboards sometimes are very easy to open up and get into. The keyboard I used before this one, actually was very comfortable. It was pretty cheap, I mean it cost me about twenty dollars. And I could open it up and have complete access to everything. So I could dry it after dishwashing it in probably an hour. Matter of fact, I probably ran it through the dishwasher a dozen times. Also, consider just cleaning your keyboard off with a very slightly damp cloth with maybe some rubbing alcohol on it. Alcohol cleans just as well as water and it dries much quicker. And you can always get yourself a keyboard cover if you find your keyboard is always getting dirty. For instance if one of you hobbies is working on cars and your other hobby is playing on you computer, you'll probably find that you keyboard needs to be cleaned constantly. So, cleaning keyboards in the dishwasher does work but you do have to use some caution and just not rely on it. And just in case you were thinking about it, don't wash your MacBook keyboard in the dishwasher. You see the problem with that, okay. Well, until next time this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 4 Responses to “MacMost Now 86: Washing Your Keyboard”

    5/27/08 @ 12:27 pm

    Did you do it with soap or not?

    5/27/08 @ 1:01 pm

    MacTipper: With soap. In with the dishes as well.

    Helene
    2/19/09 @ 6:04 am

    Gary, you saved our day. My son had spilled juice on his keyboard and after watching your video we bought a 12 dollar spare keyboard, then put the Mac keyboard in the top rack (no soap, short cycle, and no heated dry,). We dried it standing up against heater so that the water could leak out. When we tried it after two days everything worked. Thank you!

    Suzanne
    4/15/12 @ 2:59 pm

    I followed the instructions – upside down, top rack, no soap, quickest cycle and taped over the USB ports/USB cable. After the wash cycle I left it to dry upside down over a towel and eventually moved it outside on a breezy spring day. The keys are white and clean…and I’m typing on it right now – 48 hours after the wash! Thanks for the tip.

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