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Can I put keyboards in the dishwasher?

I found a mechanical cherry keyboard (That looks A LOT like the IBM Model M but isn't) but it is disgustingly filthy, all keys and case became yellow and brown with grime. I began disassembling it to put it in the dishwasher but then I came to the internet and got mixed opinions on whether you can or can not put it in a dishwasher. It has blue switches beneath the keys and the model on the back says G80-3049, someone has experience with washing these kind of keyboards? Should I give it the manual treatment?

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marked as duplicate by Shinrai, studiohack Aug 1 '11 at 0:21

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If you do wash it (I have no experience washing any electronic devices to be honest, just not a good idea generally), please make sure it is completely dry before you provide any power to it. –  cp2141 Jul 31 '11 at 14:58

5 Answers 5

It is possible to wash a keyboard in a dishwasher, and I've actually done it. Obviously you can't wash anything with a battery in it (or that has large capacitors on its circuit board, which also store a charge), and you can't wash anything small and loose, like screws. The key caps can be secured and washed in those plastic baskets designed for baby stuff. The more you disassemble it the cleaner it will be.

The important thing is to make sure it is absolutely and totally dry before applying power. What I did was hang the electronic parts outside in the sun for several hours, while drying the key caps by hand with a towel.

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Just common sense. Take out any electronics, separate components, put key caps into a basket. Wash, rinse, dry thoroughly, assemble. Distilled water would be best to rinse with. If it doesn't work, then another keyboard is $10. I have revived mobile phones from the bottom of the sea, so no problem washing electronics if dried properly. –  Andy Lee Robinson Jul 31 '11 at 17:55
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Capacitors are no problem if they're discharged, which they should be if powered off for any length of time. It's common practice to wash electronic circuit boards after assembly. That said, if somebody is concerned about using water, 90% isopropyl alcohol can be used for cleaning. –  Joe Internet Jul 31 '11 at 18:00

Does your keyboard have springs inside of the keys? They might rust if put in contact with water. I vote manual treatment.

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Dishwasher powder contains a huge amount of salt, which would make the water very conductive. It also reduces the surface tension of water, which could help it get into every microscopic crack in the electronics. It sounds like a ridiculous idea to me.

Also, my old Cherry MX-Contact keyboard died after I spilled lager on it, so I would say no.

I'm on my third Cherry now, in twelve years. The Das Keyboard is a way to pay three times the amount for the same thing.


EDIT: I forgot to add this earlier, but here is a link from a guy who cleans a lot of IBM Model-M keyboards, which are also mechanical keyboards like Cherrys, so it could provide some useful tips, although the way the keycaps come off on mechanical Cherrys is different to the Model-M.

cleaning keyboards

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Maybe it could only handle pilsner... –  Joe Internet Jul 31 '11 at 18:02
    
@Joe: Ah, yeah, less sugar. –  paradroid Jul 31 '11 at 18:19
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You're not supposed to use detergent, just a clean cycle, silly! –  Shinrai Jul 31 '11 at 21:02

You can put the keys in a solution of rubbing alcohol and water, but I do not recommend putting any electronics in water, ever.

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What I did in the end was wash it manually, it was amazingly easy to disassemble the plastic from the electronics and when put in warm (almost hot) water with A LOT of soap they practically cleaned themselves. The upped and lower side were put in a tub filled with the same hot water tons of soap solution and I'll use air pressure to clean the dust from the PCB.
In a couple of days (let it dry) I'll be back with the results of how it turned out.

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Instead of air pressure, try using a brush like the kind that barbers use to wipe away cut hair (they also come in boxes of hair-clippers). Even a soft toothbrush would work great. –  Synetech Jul 31 '11 at 21:52

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