How to clean mechanical keyboard switches

How to clean mechanical keyboard switches

Discover easy steps to keep your mechanical keyboard switches working smoothly and efficiently. 

How to clean mechanical keyboard switches


Overview of Mechanical Keyboard Importance

Mechanical keyboards are appealing to those who seek durability, tactile feedback and individualization customization. Unlike ordinary membrane keyboards which rely on the rubber domes to complete keystroke actions, mechanical keyboards have in fact, the individual mechanical switches beneath each keycap. These keys are loved by gamers, programmers, and typists because of their speed of response and instance of use. Despite all, they require regular cleaning to operate at their highest standards. Wondering how to clean mechanical keyboard switches? This article will guide you step by step on the cleaning of mechanical keyboard switches to keep them in top-notch condition.

Common Issues Caused by Dirty Switches

Dirty mechanical keyboard switches may cause problems such as sticking keys which disrupt the workflow and trigger troubles in the middle of a game or long document. Dust settlement can cause unreliable key actuation hence missed or repeated keystrokes. However, not taking the time to clean the switches will lessen the keyboards' life expectancy and make it not perform as reliably as it should in the long run.


Pre-Cleaning: Preparation Steps


Necessary Tools and Materials

List of recommended cleaning supplies

Having the right cleaning supplies is crucial for effectively cleaning mechanical keyboard switches, as recommended items ensure top condition

  1. Isopropyl Alcohol (70% or higher):It is great for dust, dirt, and grime removal from your keyboard switches without leaving any trace of damage to them.
  2. Microfiber Cloth:Ideal for wiping down and keyboards' switches after cleaning with the end to come up with a shiny state.
  3. Compressed Air Duster:It does a great job getting rid of stuck particles especially from the keyboard which frequently hosts intricate designs.
  4. Keyboard Keycap Puller:It is critical that essential instruments are available for removing the keycaps safely for working on the switches to facilitate the process of watching.
  5. Small Cleaning Brush:Handy for thorough scrubbing and hard-to-get spots of the switches.


DIY Alternatives for Professional Tools


If you don’t have access to specialized keyboard cleaning tools, there are DIY alternatives you can use to achieve similar results:

  1. DIY Keycap Puller:You might use paperclips or plastic cards to make a keycap puller. Bend it into a U-shape or flatten the card and slip it underneath - prise the key off as easily as this.
  2. Homemade Cleaning Solution:Mix dish soap with warm water to wash the switches and keycaps for gentle cleaning. Be sure the parts are completely dry before reassembling.
  3. Cotton Swabs or Toothpicks:These can help you to carefully clean around the switches and remove any stuck bits of dirt.
  4. Soft Bristle Brush:If you do not have a small cleaning brush, a soft-tipped toothbrush is a good alternative for cleaning the switches without scratching the surface.

The suggested cleaning supplies and homemade variations can well clean mechanical keyboard switches, thus ensuring proper functioning and durability.


Safety Tips

Electrical safety precautions

To clean mechanical keyboard switches safely, make sure the keyboard is disconnected from supply sources, otherwise it will run the risk of the short circuit or electric shock. Disconnect the keyboard to avoid any electrical interference. Being careful around the liquids near powerful electronic components is a must as liquid spills may lead to germination of irreparable problems. Use as recommended cleaning products either isobutyl or alcohol with a 70% or higher concentration to eliminate germs or make the switches swabbing.


Tips to Avoid Damaging Your Keyboard

For mechanical switchboard cleaning, remove keycaps and then just lift the switches out. Do not use excessive forces as well as sharp objects to avoid any damage. Using a brush with soft-bristles or compressed air, remove any excess dust or loose debris. If stubborn stains are still here, dab a cotton swab or cloth with isopropyl alcohol and clean the area. Leave the switches to air dry completely and then put the keycaps back in their places before plugging the keyboard back into a powered device.

Cleaning Process: Step-by-Step Guide


External Cleaning

Cleaning keycaps

To clean mechanical key switches, remove keycaps with a keycap puller tool carefully, soak them in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes and then use a soft brush to scrub gently, cleaning hard to reach places and corners. Wipe the keys gently with clean water and completely air-dry before you put them back on the keyboard.


Techniques for Dusting the Keyboard Surface

Use compressed air to eliminate dust and dirt from around the switches. Make sure that waste is falling away and the keyboard is at an angle. For tougher stains, pre-moisten a microfiber cloth with water and isopropyl alcohol and rub the keyboard, taking care around switches. No need to use a lot of moisture or strong cleaners.

Internal Cleaning


Opening the Keyboard

Tools needed

To remove mechanical keyboard switches for cleaning, you will use a keycap puller, a Phillips head screwdriver plus a flat instrument like a credit card or a plastic spudger to disassemble the keyboard as a whole, but without damaging any of the components. These tools will enable you to detach keycaps easily and to open the keyboard casing without damaging switches.

Step-by-step disassembly

To clean a keyboard, first unplug it from the computer, separate each keycap carefully, use a screwdriver to undo the screws attaching the keyboard case and then use a flat tool to pry open the casing gingerly. Carefully avoid over-tightening it as it can break up the plastic or damage internal elements. Open the casing and clean the mechanical switches. Do not lose the screws, they will be needed later for reassembling the keyboard.


Cleaning the Switches


Dry cleaning methods (compressed air, soft brushes)

Clean mechanical keyboard switches with dry methods if you need periodic cleaning or light dirt. Compressed air is becoming more popular as an unloading tool that shifts dust, crumbs, and particles; between a switch. Make sure that you unplug the keyboard before using compressed air so that you do not run into electrical problems. Soft bristles like paint brushes or makeup brushes can quickly pull away surface debris without damaging the contacts.


Wet cleaning methods (isopropyl alcohol, specialized solutions)

Can you wash keyboard switches? Regarding the cleaning of mechanical keyboard switches, it is recommended to use it for wet cleaning methods, such as isopropyl alcohol, or specialized cleaning solutions. Isopropyl applied with a cotton wool swab or cloth, on the other hand, dries up and prevents spreading of the liquid and potential damages. Specialized procedures deliver a deep clean that has no effect on the switches' performance. On the contrary, keep the switches away from water or submerging as it will harm them and the electronics. Make sure the keyboard has dried completely before connecting it to the computer again to eliminate any possible problems that may arise.


Deep Cleaning for Sticky or Non-responsive Switches

Dismantling a switch

To learn how to clean sticky mechanical keyboard switches ? start by dismantling them by removing keycaps and reaching individual switches. Take a switch puller or flat-head tool, which can be gently applied to the sockets until they are loosened without using too much force. If the switches are mounted on a plate, take up the screws based on the design of the keyboard.


Detailed Cleaning of Internal Switch Components

By removing the wires, you can now pay attention to the cleaning of the internal pieces. While cleaning a switch casing you introduce compressed air or a brush to discharge loose dirt. For sticky switches, apply isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab and wipe contact points and surrounding areas. Make sure that all traces of alcohol evaporate before putting together the switches. If the switches are filthy or sticky, soak them in isopropyl for about three to five minutes before scrubbing them gently using a fine brush. After the switches are totally dry, let them rest and be ready to get them back into the keyboard where you can place keycaps.


Reassembling Your Keyboard

Steps to safely reassemble the keyboard

  1. Placing the switches:Properly install the clean switches onto their specified spots on the PCB matrix, taking care that they are aligned.
  2. Securing the switches:Gently push each switch to make sure they are well seated and will not be loose during game use.
  3. Re-placing the keyboard cover:Now, when all switches are in place, re-place the keyboard cover, making sure that all tabs and screws are installed to secure it tightly.


Ensuring all components are properly aligned

While reassembling, make sure all components are adequately square to avoid malfunctioning keys and imperfect key presses. Make certain every switch is in the right position, and be sure the keyboard covers comfortably around the switches. Check the keyboard for input regulation, typewriter function and troublesome button. This is the process of restoring your keyboard mechanical switches after cleaning, which will help guarantee higher performance and longer functioning.


Maintenance Tips to Prolong Cleanliness

Routine cleaning schedule

Ensuring the cleanliness of your mechanical keyboard switches is vitally important for good performance and the longest possible life. Cleaning routine is the key to your keyboard switches being dust free, debris-less and fingerprint-free. Clean your keyboard switches as much as possible, at least once every few months, or more when you notice keys not working properly or insufficient response.


Best practices for daily maintenance

To maintain mechanical keyboard switches, follow these daily maintenance habits: use compressed air to remove kinky dust, utilize a keycap puller for specialized cleaning, and in the case of sticky switches, you might run a gentle solution of isopropyl alcohol and water across them. These practices will make the switches last longer and the functionality is maintained. Mechanical switches will be kept in their original pristine condition when these habits are practiced.


Troubleshooting Common Issues After Cleaning

Keys Not Registering

If a few keys still don't work right after cleaning, go over the switch connections and verify that they are correctly reattached to the PCB or plate. Check to make sure that cap keys are appropriately aligned and compressed over switches. In case, the problem still exists, check for any damaged or poorly connected joints of switches mounted on PCB.


Sticky Keys or Abnormal Switch Noises

If you find sticky keys or unusual noises at the end of the cleaning process, wash and dry the clogged plugs. Inspect keycap stems for traces of dust or waste and recommend lubricant for switches as per manufacturer's guidelines but avoid over-lubrication that can cause reduction in switch responsiveness.


Advanced Tips and Tricks

Lubricating switches for better performance

Lubricating switches will make it give a decent feedback level and minimize friction that generates a better typing or gaming experience. Use a fine quality switch lubricant which is thin and less oily, you should put it in the switch housing and stem. Be careful not to over-oil, otherwise the switch could feel mushy.


Modding Switches

Modding In Switches refers to customizing the switch to obtain a specific texture or sound feed. It might be swapping out different springs for a snap, or even changing the housing or the stem of the switch. Modding involves knowing how to remove and replace your keyboards' components as well as any risks like voided warranties, hence one should carry out a serious consideration before modifying the keyboards.



Recap of key points covered

Mechanical keyboard switches are to be cleaned on a regular basis to keep their performance and life of them span. The process involves unscrewing the keycaps and then scrubbing the switches carefully to ensure a high level of experience and no sticky or unresponsive keys. A routine cleaning is not only helpful in the terms of keeping the experience of typing pleasant without the nuisance of dust but also results in avoidance of mechanical issues accumulated through time.


The Importance of Regular Cleaning

Routinely washing mechanical keyboard switches is important to keep the keys fast and make sure they don't stick. Use a keycap puller tool or fingers to remove the keycaps, apply compressed air to remove loose debris, and use a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol for unmovable filth. While letting them air dry completely, reestablish the switches into them. It is necessary to perform this cleaning ritual if a user wants to keep their keyboard maintained smooth and pleasant feeling while typing for a long time.



  1. How often should I clean my mechanical keyboard switches?

It is recommended to clean your mechanical keyboard switches every 3-6 months for best performance.


  1. What is the safest way to clean a keyboard without damaging the switches?

The most safest method to clean a keyboard is using a compressed air can to remove the dust and dirt particles. Please don’t use liquids to spray the switches on the devices.


  1. Can I use water to clean my mechanical switches?

No, water liquid can damage the switches. Instead of this, isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs should be used for cleaning.


  1. What are the signs that my switches need cleaning?

Signs include not binding properly when pressed, faulty handling of letters when typed as well as visible dirt and particles under the keycaps.


  1. Is it worth cleaning old keyboard switches, or should I just replace them?

Though, cleaning old switches must be done if they are still in top-notch condition. But if they get worn out or very damaged the best solution would be to put a new pair on.


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