Clean your keyboard in the dishwasher

Scott Moschella of explains how to clean your computer keyboard in the dishwasher without destroying it.

I can report that not only will the keyboard come out clean, but it will probably work once it dries completely. Every key on the keyboard works and feels just right – the Caps Lock light even works! This 'hack' is not for the weakhearted, and I would probably avoid putting a $100+ keyboard in the dishwasher. But if you don't have any other options, it's a pretty good bet.


Reader comment: Darren says: "I recently spilled some rootbeer on my keyboard and received a ton of good advice at the above URL. My friend Travis went above and beyond the call of duty, and made this pictorial on removing keys from your keyboard to clean underneath them. It features the super-fancy KeyPopper(tm) (patent pending)." Link

Reader comment: SuziJane says: "I mentioned this very thing in an email to Cory months ago, in response to the boingboing post about icky keyboards in med labs (he rightly responded that a run through the dishwasher wouldn't truly sanitize them). My husband and I have done this for years, and it works like a dream. Usually takes about 3 days of drying-turning-shaking, but they look and work like brand new afterward. Of particular note: We have never once popped off the keys to dry, and we haven't lost a keyboard yet. At least, not to the *dishwasher* …"

Reader comment: Randy Rathbun says: "About 15 years ago I went to a local ham radio equipment manufacturer ( and took a tour of their factory. The last step they did before they put the circuit board in the case was to run the boards through a dishwasher – no soap, no dry cycle. Just hot water.

"What this does is get rid of all the flux and other crap off the board.

"After they finished washing the boards (light duty cycle, boards on the top rack only!) they would hang the boards up and let them dry on a big drying rack they made. If it was a nice day here in the Kansas City area, they would roll the boards outside and let the sun beat down on them to help em dry faster.

"After the boards had dried for a few days they would then finish putting the last few parts on that were water sensitive such as transformers, audio jacks, or non sealed relays – mainly just any part that had a hollow cavity in it that could hold water.

"After I saw them do that I started to do the same with projects I built. I do it with any and all boards I etch or kit boards I get before I start stuffing parts, then do it again after most of the parts are on.

"It works great, is easy, and forces me to take a break from the project for a few days before and after construction while I let the thing air dry. At the end of it I end up with one snazzy looking board that is free from burned flux or those nasty short circuit inducing micro-solder splatter blobs that can cause problems."

Reader comment: Erik V. Olson says: "Quite a whoo-raw on the dishwashing keyboards posts. I've done it for some time. I've even washed entire Commodore 64s. What can't take washing — motors of any kinds. So, leave the notebook out.

"The best way. If you have an older keyboard, like one of my beloved IBM Model Ms, you'll need to pull the keycaps off, or you'll have to collect them from the bottom of the dishwasher afterwards. Put those in the silverware basket. Wash normally with only a tiny bit of dishwasher soap, about a tenth of what you'd normally use. Don't use other soaps, which foam up way too much.

"Critical: If your dishwasher has a speed dry cycle, turn it off. If you get too warm, you can warp the plastic, or worse, crack the circuit board from thermal expansion. I saw one dishwasher actually melt part of a keyboard, but I suspect that wasn't normal operation. In short: Plain Wash, Plain Dry.

"Unknown: the effect of rinse agents. If you have such, leave it out if you can, but if you follow the rest of this, it isn't critical.

"Many keyboards will trap water, you'll have to shake that out, or (advanced course) drill a couple of drain holes.

"The final trick is to get some high-grade 100% Isopropyl Alcohol from an electronics supply store, and use that to rinse, which will pull the rest of the detergent residue out, and, as a bonus, dry the keyboard much faster. It is *incredibly* important not to use lower cuts of Isopropyl unless you know they're cut only with distilled water. The only test I know that I trust. Take a clean sheet of clear glass, rise with the test alcohol, and let dry. Anything left on the glass would end up on your keyboard. Anything that insulates or makes the key contacts conductive would ruin the keyboard."

Reader comment: Michael Hyatt says: "I wanted to comment on the keyboard in the dishwasher post and, though I've been reading BoinbBoing for a year now, I can't for the life of me find a way to send comments up.  In the Eighties I worked at Polaroid's floppy disk factory in Santa Rosa, where they made 5¼ floppys.  They had a product they called 'Data Rescue.'  The deal was, you paid extra for them, but if they got damaged or screwed up in any way (from spilled sodas to accidental erasure) you could send them in and we'd try to recover the data.  The marketing kit included a disc and some mustard and ketchup packets.  The idea was you put some data on the disk, then covered it in goo, ran over with your desk chair, spilled whatever you wanted on it, and sent it in.  We'd get the data back and you'd be so impressed you'd buy the damn things no matter what they cost.  The secret?  We cut the disk jacket open, slid the 'cookie' out and gently washed it in the sink.  After much expermentation, we determined that Dawn dish detergent was best.  We then hung them up to dry in the lunch room on a piece of twine with wood clothes pins.  When they were dry, we put them in a new jacket and ran the basic data recovery tools of the day, Norton et al.  The best of the unintended consequences?  We got disks written with just about every kind of hardware/OS in the world, so we ended up with a lab with just about every kind of computer in the world in it.  A great way to learn about computers and OSs…."