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I gave my Apple Wireless Keyboard a cleaning using a damp cloth and dishwashing soap. None of the keys have worked since. Although I was careful, some water may have gotten under one or two other keys. But none of the keys work, and when they do, they do so erratically. Is there any hope?

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First off, give it at least 3 days to dry out. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 15 '12 at 2:01

4 Answers 4

If it is a membrane keyboard, even small ammounts of water can slip under the membrane spread capilary style, and cause a problem like this. Because the top layer is water proof (even if it has areas that allows water entry) it will not dry quickly. Because it forms a good seal between the flat PCB and the membrane there is no air passage, so the water takes a long time to dry.

This is some of the ideas in pictures http://192.197.62.35/staff/bgracey/images/keyboardimages/membranelayers.jpg
One type of plastic grid layers under some of them.
http://blog.melchua.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/keyboard-peeledjpg.JPG
The Idea behind the sealing.

You can't very well use things like hair dryers and heat guns, because the soft membrane and the plastic everywhere. Taking it apart is not always easy because some of them have heat squished plastic rivets (one way assembly).

The keys working erraticly (instead of not at all or stuck) more likly indicate that it is a very small ammount of water, that should be able to dry up, without dissasembly.

For more information, we need to know the model type, to even guess, but if you have another Kb laying around use it. Put the wet one in a clean dry locations, you could put a fan blowing air , and give it 2 days, then test it again, prefer to not power it up when it is not working. If in 2 weeks it still is acting up, the only thing you can do is dissasemble.

It is possible to use 99% alcohol, or a tech spray, to replace (push out) the water, then the higher volitle liquids will dry faster, but with a membrane keyboard situation, it did not work at all, the seal(ing) between the 2 surfaces means it will just push back further, even the alcohol will have a hard time drying, and the parts in there are effected by solvents to easily. So tricks that would dry out some other electrical components , did Not work on the keyboards.

Because mac supports thier products, sometimes to excess, you might also go with that route.

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Shaking it aggressively every fewer hours can help too. This can break up clumps of water into smaller bits that can more easily evaporate. Warming the whole thing up with a hair dryer every few hours can help too. I agree with the diagnosis, water in the membranes is likely the problem. –  David Schwartz Apr 15 '12 at 2:31

What works well with water and electronic devices,

First unplug, shut down or remove battery if possible.

Remove as much as water as possible by turning it upside down, shaking with your hands. You can also vacuum with your mouth.

Put the device in a completely hermetic zipbag with dry rice grains (a lot) the rice won't enter the device but will absorb the water.

Wait for 24h or more if you have the patience.

Worked for me and a couple of friends with iPhone fallen into water.

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+1 for rice. don't feed it to birds after ur done tho. –  Lorenzo Von Matterhorn Sep 25 '13 at 11:07

I wish I had good news to report on this, but the same thing happened to me when our NEIGHBORHOOD cat (not even our own) knocked a glass of water (which I shouldn't have had close to the computer (or to ANYTHING!) and a drop spilled right into the keyboard INSTANTLY making it and the connected mouse inoperable.

Yeah, I tried to unplug it and leave it in the sun to evaporate the water, but after more than enough time for any moisture to evaporate, when I plugged it in it was "deaded."

The damage was done. Permanent. Irreversible. (But the mouse still worked. YAY!)

Having been plugged in and powered during the tragic incident, it appears that the small amount of plain drinking water came in contact with some powered circuitry and shorted the whole thing out.

The fact that some of your keys still work, suggests that not all keys are assigned to a single circuit card or bit of circuitry.

But that's of little use when you need all keys to be working. Do you have AppleCare? Depending on your personal ethics, you can be circumspect about the precise circumstances surrounding the damage, and Apple might oblige you in replacing it.

"Sweeten" the rep first by telling of how long an Apple customer you've been, "how great Apple is," how much of a satisfied customer you are, and possibly what I tell them (which is 100% true) that I am a sort of "unofficial ambassador" for Apple and have lost count of the number of Mac, etc. sales I've made for Apple over decades through enthusiastic personal recommendations and evangelism (and offers of free training and tech support from me).

OH! And BTW, I don't recommend a strong cleaning solution for cleaning a keyboard (like rubbing alcohol or window cleaner) as they can emulsify things like the printing on each key or even any "roughness" the manufacturer designed the keys to have so your fingers don't slip. (This might not be evident after the first cleaning, but over time you're incrementally causing this emulsification).

I'd dilute rubbing alcohol in warm water by about a 1:25 ratio. "Detergents" do cut grease, but can leave behind a film that ATTRACTS dirt. Water and (heavily diluted) isoprophal alcohol evaporate entirely, leaving nothing behind. (Warmth assists in dissolving sticky or greasy detritus.)

OH! And whenever I clean my keyboard, I never use sprays directly on the keyboard. I unplug the keyboard so it isn't receiving any direct current (not foolproof because there is always some residual electricity left behind).

Availing myself of freely available gravity, I hold my keyboard UPSIDEDOWN when I clean it, far reducing the likelihood that any liquid I'm using will roll (upwards!) into the overall keyboard.

If I'm using a "safe" spray cleaner or safe concoction, I apply it to the cloth, not the keyboard, and, like getting a haircut, you can always add more cleaner to a cloth, but can't "add less" if you've inadvertently soaked it.

When I'm done, and after I've dried it, I still leave the keyboard upsidedown and unplugged for a time, allowing any further evaporation to occur before I plug it back in and use it.

NOTE OF INTEREST: A coworker of mine once dropped a running iPod shuffle into a tall, full glass of drinking water. After fishing it out from the bottom, he left it on a windowsill in the hot sun. The next day, he tried it (without much hope), and it worked! And by worked, I mean 100%! No loss of functionality. No erased content. (I have no explanation.)

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In case this is of any help to others, I followed lots of the advice here. Initially worked fine after placing in a bag of rice for a few days, but an intermittent issue later arose which I totted up to being black coloured liquid that was underneath the splash proof protector that sits beneath the keys. It was preventing the relevant contact being made between the two connectors.

What eventually helped was putting on top of my time capsule (it was the mac mini form factor one before the current taller generation). That ensured there was a constant stream of heat coming up from beneath it, which has dried it out. fingers crossed

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