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How To Clean Keycaps

Keycaps, those tiny yet essential components of your keyboard, play a significant role in your typing experience. Over time, they can accumulate dirt, oils, and grime, affecting both aesthetics and functionality. This is why you need to know how to clean keycaps.

To clean keycaps, remove them, soak in warm soapy water, scrub gently, rinse, and air dry. Avoid aggressive scrubbing and harsh chemicals.

That’s not all! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll give a step-by-step instruction on cleaning keycaps. From basic techniques to advanced methods, we’ll explore the nuances of keeping the objects gleaming and your typing experience seamless. Let’s embark on a journey to discover how to clean keycaps like a pro!

How to Clean Macbook Keyboard Sticky Keys

Importance of Clean Keycaps

Before we delve into the cleaning process, let’s grasp why clean keycaps matter. Keycaps are where your fingers spend most of their time while typing. As a result, they can accumulate oils, sweat, and crumbs that not only impact hygiene but also the tactile feel of your keyboard.

Clean keycaps not only enhance the overall look of your setup but also contribute to more comfortable and precise typing.

The Essentials: What You’ll Need To Clean Keycaps

Gathering the right tools and materials ensures a successful cleaning endeavor. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Keycap Puller: This tool helps remove keycaps without damaging them.
  2. Bowl of Warm Water: Lukewarm water serves as the base for cleaning solution.
  3. Mild Dish Soap: A gentle dish soap helps break down oils and grime.
  4. Soft Brush: A soft-bristle brush is effective for scrubbing keycaps.
  5. Microfiber Cloth: A lint-free cloth for wiping and drying keycaps.

How To Clean Keycaps

Here’s a guide on how to clean keycaps:

1: Removing Keycaps

  1. Turn off your computer to prevent accidental input while removing keycaps.
  2. Use a keycap puller to gently lift off keycaps. Pull evenly to avoid breakage.

2: Soaking and Cleaning

  1. Fill a bowl with lukewarm water and add a small amount of mild dish soap.
  2. Place the keycaps in the soapy solution and let them soak for about 30 minutes.
  3. Use a soft brush to gently scrub each keycap, paying extra attention to textured areas.

3: Rinsing and Drying

  1. Remove keycaps from the soapy solution and rinse thoroughly under running water.
  2. Place the keycaps on a microfiber cloth to air dry completely.

Related: How To Clean MacBook Keyboard Sticky Keys

What To Avoid

As we navigate the realm of cleaning keycaps, it’s improve to thread with caution. That said, avoid the following when cleaning keycaps:

1: Dishwasher for Keycaps

While it might be tempting, avoid placing keycaps in the dishwasher. High heat and strong detergents can damage them.

2: Excessive Scrubbing

Aggressive scrubbing can cause keycap legends (letters/numbers) to fade. Use a gentle touch.

3: Harsh Chemicals

Avoid using strong chemicals like bleach, as they can damage the keycap material.

4: Skipping Drying

Ensure keycaps are completely dry before reattaching them. Moisture can affect keyboard performance.

Advanced Techniques for Specific Keycap Materials

Different keycap materials require nuanced cleaning approaches. Let’s explore the techniques for cleaning specific keycap materials:

ABS Keycaps

For daily cleaning of ABS keycaps, a microfiber cloth can remove surface dust and oils. However, for tougher cleaning, follow basic cleaning techniques with a gentle detergent.

PBT Keycaps

PBT keycaps are more durable. So, a soft brush and mild soapy solution work well on them. For stubborn stains, use a small amount of isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab.

Artisan Keycaps

Artisan keycaps are often handcrafted and delicate. So, use a soft cloth for gentle cleaning. These keycaps may have intricate designs; so avoid soaking them to prevent damage.

Custom Keycaps

Custom keycaps vary in material. We advise you follow cleaning techniques suitable for their material. Store custom keycaps in a dust-free container to minimize dust buildup.

You might also want to check out how to clean Macbook air fan.

Maintaining Pristine Keycaps: Ongoing Tips

Cleaning is just the beginning; maintaining clean keycaps is an ongoing endeavor. Here are to follow:

  1. Regular Wiping: Wipe your keycaps regularly with a microfiber cloth to prevent dirt accumulation.
  2. Hand Cleanliness: Clean hands before using your keyboard to minimize oils transferred to keycaps.
  3. Keyboard Cover: Consider using a keyboard cover to shield keycaps from debris.
  4. No Eating Zone: Avoid eating directly over your keyboard to prevent crumbs from getting between keycaps.
  5. Air Dusting: Use compressed air to remove dust and debris from between keycaps.

Evaluating Keycap Cleaning Products

The market offers various keycap cleaning products. Here’s how to evaluate them:

1. Material Compatibility: Ensure the product is safe for your keycap material (ABS, PBT, etc.).

2. User Reviews: Read user reviews to gauge effectiveness and compatibility with different keycap types.

3. Non-Abrasive: Choose products that are non-abrasive to avoid damaging keycap legends.

Exploring Special Considerations for Mechanical Keyboards

Free Mechanical Keyboard Cherry Keycap photo and picture

Mechanical keyboards have unique features that require special attention when cleaning keycaps:

Mechanical Key Switches

Some mechanical keyboards allow you to remove individual key switches. Follow manufacturer instructions for safe removal. After removing switches, take off keycaps for thorough cleaning.


If your keyboard has stabilizers, you might need to remove them for a complete cleaning. While keycap cleaning, consider lubing stabilizers for smoother keypresses.

Backlit Keycaps

Backlit keycaps can have transparent or translucent sections. Clean them gently to avoid damaging lighting elements. Prevent water from seeping into the lighting mechanisms.

Keycap Cleaning Solutions

There’s a range of keycap cleaning solutions available. Here’s a balanced overview:

1. Isopropyl Alcohol: Effective for removing stains and oils. Ensure it’s diluted and used sparingly.

2. Cleaning Putty: Soft and reusable, it’s excellent for removing debris from between keycaps.

3. Foam Cleaners: Some foam cleaners are designed for keycap cleaning. Follow usage instructions.

4. Keycap Brush: Small brushes designed for keycap cleaning can be effective for daily maintenance.

Navigating Keycap Stains and Discoloration

Stains and discoloration can be frustrating. Here’s how to address them:

1. Ink Stains: Use isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab to gently rub ink stains. Test on a small area first.

2. Yellowing: For white keycaps that have yellowed, try UV light exposure or hydrogen peroxide treatment. Proceed with caution and research.

Long-Term Preservation of Keycap Legends

Keycap legends (letters/numbers) can wear off over time. Consider these preservation strategies:

1. Touch Typing: Typing without looking at the keyboard can reduce the wear on keycap legends.

2. Keycap Covers: Use keycap covers or skins to protect keycaps from finger oils and abrasion.

The Role of Keycap Maintenance in Keyboard Longevity

Cleaning keycaps goes hand in hand with keyboard maintenance:

1. Preventative Care: Clean keycaps regularly to prevent dirt buildup that can affect switch performance.

2. Enhanced Typing Experience: Clean keycaps contribute to a more satisfying and accurate typing experience.

3. Prolonged Keyboard Life: Proper keycap cleaning can extend the life of your keyboard by preventing damage

Final Thought

Cleaning keycaps is more than just maintaining aesthetics; it’s about ensuring a comfortable typing experience and prolonging the life of your keyboard. As you embark on the journey to clean keycaps, remember that each keycap contributes to the symphony of your typing experience. So, treat them with care, embrace the process, and type away on your refreshed and gleaming keyboard!