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I know there are lots of articles out there on getting a keyboard clean, but I'd like to prevent my keyboard from getting nasty in the first place. The biggest problem isn't anything like food particles or liquids -- my keyboards almost instantly get a coating of finger oils and dead skin cells around the edges of the keys where my fingers rest, and the result is quite nasty. I have to clean my keyboards constantly to keep the problem in check.

I'm wondering if there are any good ways to reduce this kind of buildup on my laptop and/or desktop keyboard.

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Only by reading your comments to answers does one learn you are talking about a laptop, which changes the reasonable options you have. –  kajaco Apr 10 '10 at 13:15
    
@kajaco: I use more machines than just the laptop. I'm interested in solutions that work in the general case, not only for specific model(s) of keyboard. –  Billy ONeal Apr 25 '10 at 3:33
    
@ Billy ONeal: then why your comment to my answer? "I'm not replacing my laptop over a keyboard." Sounds like you're being rather specific there. –  kajaco Apr 25 '10 at 16:37
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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If you are unable to use a preventative mechanism like the covers described, then I suggest simple habits like the following, as they seem to work pretty well for me:

  1. Make sure you wash your hands before working with your keyboard -- this keeps loose dirt from falling off, mixing with your sweat, and turning into grime. Also, if you use your keyboard for prolonged periods of time, take breaks to simply go wash your hands of naturally occurring oil buildup. If you feel your fingers slightly oily on your keys, go wash your hands.
  2. Don't eat or drink over/near your keyboard. This really goes for anything crumbs that can fall off. Most people refuse to do this, and it's number 1 cause of buildup under your keys.
  3. Try to touch type with your fingers more raised rather than resting... like how typing teachers always preach. The pecking motion will prevent a lot of the transfer of dirt to your keyboard because it minimizes time and area of contact.
  4. Keep your hands dry. The raised finger "pecking" mentioned in #3 will improve airflow to your hands and dry them naturally, but you can also use a napkin, shirt sleeves, pant-legs etc to dry your hands.
  5. If you're really having trouble, consider wearing some thin gloves while you type or maybe even some coating on your fingertips like elmers white school glue. This sounds a bit too far to me, but some people really hate dirt. I'm not gonna judge you!

Good luck!

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Get yourself one of those silicone skins that goes over the keyboard. That'll keep pretty much anything out of it.

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These aren't available for my model (Dell Latitude E6500) –  Billy ONeal Apr 8 '10 at 17:32
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You could buy a keyboard cover that fits your model of keyboard. Usually they're pretty cheap, as well as able to be washed off purely with water.

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These aren't available for my model (Dell Latitude E6500) –  Billy ONeal Apr 8 '10 at 17:32
    
these people buypcsupplies.com/dellkeyboardskins.html seem to offer one. (not sure how legit they are tho) –  Kravlin Apr 8 '10 at 17:42
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Honestly - just use rubbing alcohol - cleans your keyboard really well. I use Apple keyboards and the white keys always get dirty/oily; every time I clean it with rubbing-alcohol, it turns everything back to pure white. Don't waste your money on products, rubbing alcohol costs about eighty cents to a dollar.

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As I said, I have no problem cleaning the keyboard. I just want to have to do so less often. –  Billy ONeal Apr 8 '10 at 17:31
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keep your hands clean! It's a lot easier to prevent dirtyness with clean, oil-free hands. Whatever you buy, will get just as dirty without a cover, which defeats the whole purpose of having a dirty keyboard. If your hands are always oily then you will always have to replace covers..preventative measures! –  fady Apr 8 '10 at 17:39
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