How to Clean a Sticky Keyboard

Beth Huston Profile image

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Updated February 10, 2023

Whether you have one of the best keyboards or not, if you drink near your computer, you might accidentally spill something. Learning how to clean a sticky keyboard will help you save your device from water damage.


  • First, gather up all the supplies you’re going to need. From there, turn your computer off if it’s a built-in keyboard, or unplug it if it’s external.
  • Next, you’ll gently remove the sticky keys from your keyboard. You may need to use a key puller to do this. Put them aside for now.
  • Finally, use rubbing alcohol on a cloth, wipe down the plungers, and then the keys themselves. Wipe it down with a dry cloth and put the keys back on your keyboard.

Cleaning Your Sticky Keyboard

Knowing how to clean a laptop keyboard after a spill keeps you from having to replace the device. But no matter the source of the stickiness, whether from a spill or otherwise, you should always take care of the issue immediately. Otherwise, you could badly damage your keyboard.

Insider Tip

You can use a wet wipe to clean your laptop’s surface gently.


First, gather your supplies. You’ll need a cotton swab, some isopropyl alcohol, microfiber cloths, and warm water. You should also get some compressed air.


The next step depends on the type of keyboard you’re using. If it’s external, unplug the keyboard. If it’s internal, turn off the computer.


Then, gently remove the sticky keys. You may need to use a key puller to do this. Place the keys somewhere safe. It would be helpful to read a hand-wired keyboard guide first.


Use the rubbing alcohol on a cloth or paper towel. Then, carefully clean the plungers of the keyboard to get rid of any sticky substance. The last step is cleaning the keys themselves.


Use a dry cloth to wipe everything down. Gently replace the keys into their position and wipe down the entire keyboard surface.


Spilling sugary drinks on your keyboard can cause severe water damage, so avoid drinking at your computer.


Your keys should all be nice and loose. If you’re still having trouble with your keys sticking, try learning how to clean under keyboard keys more thoroughly.

STAT: In the first quarter of 2021, 86.5 percent of online shoppers aged between 18 and 39 used computers and laptops for their online luxury purchases in the United States, marking a significant decrease from previous quarters. (source)

How to Clean a Sticky Keyboard FAQs

How do you clean food crumbs from your laptop keyboard?

Turn your laptop off and gently tilt it at a 75-degree angle. Shake the laptop lightly to loosen up any crumbs. Use a can of compressed air to blow out any extra crumbs left over.

Can I get my built-in keyboard fixed at a repair center?

It depends on the type of repair shop. Most electronics repair shops will be able to help you with general device repair. However, you might want to see if a warranty is included in your purchase.

What can I use to clean desktop keyboards?

There are a few things you can use:

  • Microfiber cloths
  • Damp cloth
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Disinfecting wipes

Can I go to the Apple store for a software issue?

You can visit the Apple store if you believe your keys are sticking due to a software issue. Their Genius Bar should be able to help you with your iOS device.
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