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How does one remove oil, lubricant, or the liquid from a snow globe from the plastic sheets (with conductive traces) of a keyboard?

Originally, I didn't think that the liquid was conductive, or not conductive enough to be an issue. e and backspace were the only problem children. Now run away keystrokes (keyboard driver receiving mixed signals?)

I've had the keyboard apart a few times, attempting to clean with a dry clean rag and a et (water) rag.

I think I need some form of cleaner, degreaser, compressed air?

Anyone get oil or lubricant spilled on a keyboard before, any recommendations on cleaners?

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Isopropyl alcohol should be safe and five feet above. Will attempt using a damp rag with the alcohol. – greyDrifter Jun 21 '11 at 1:34
Keyboards are so inexpensive these days that I just replace them instead of trying to clean them -- it takes a lot less time too. (Back in the late 1980s I remember working for a company that charged $50 for keyboard cleaning, but back then there were some very fancy keyboards that cost anywhere from $100 to $500.) – Randolf Richardson Jun 21 '11 at 1:51
canned air might work - its a hydrocarbon, after all. – Journeyman Geek Jun 21 '11 at 3:09
A replacement wireless keyboard can be had for 10-25 $ and time, shipping or errand. I've priced a replacement keyboards it might come to that if I use a cleaner that dissolves the plastic, traces, rubber, or otherwise damages the function. (Or if its irreparable.) They use to be easy to clean or at least since the ibm m or wired desktop varieties. Not sure about something like a c64 or ti99 which are more than keyboards. – greyDrifter Jun 21 '11 at 3:20
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Your best bet would be rubbing alcohol for cleaning a dirty keyboard. The alcohol will absorb some of the oil itself, and will evaporate when everything has been cleaned. And while it is a liquid, it is highly volatile, so it poses no threat to conductivity between traces.

Ensure that you actually remove most of the alcohol instead of simply soaking it and letting it dry. Otherwise, what amount of oil that did dissolve will just go back on the affected area when the alcohol evaporates.

You can also try any other volatile solvent (e.g. flux/PCB cleaner, butane) which is capable of dissolving any oils. The more non-polar the solvent is, the better it will clean (oil is non-polar, and like dissolves like). That being said, you may want to try rubbing alcohol first, as some of these chemicals can be quite hazardous.

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