I always wash my hands before using my computer, but after 2.5 years the keys have started getting a little greasy from my finger oils. What is the best way to clean this?

EDIT: Clarification - it's a laptop.


9 Answers 9


Diluted Isopropyl alcohol on a cloth is the best for removing oils and grease. Try to buy it pre-diluted or dilute it yourself using demineralised water. Never use it non-diluted as the alcohol can damage the plastic. 50% is probably the maximum safe mix, 30% Isopropyl alcohol or less on more sensitive surfaces.

Don't use a dishwasher unless you're prepared to lose the keyboard. Every model is different and some have exposed electircal surfaces that if not dried perfectly will short circuit the keyboard.

  • I use it undiluted for all kinds of applications. Like when my earbuds fell into a salty-puddle and got all attenuated? Soak in 90% alcohol.
    – dlamblin
    Aug 18, 2009 at 9:08
  • I guess if it works, that's fine. But ongoing exposure to alcohol can start to warp and discolour many plastics.
    – Ash
    Aug 18, 2009 at 9:16
  • I got 100 medical alcohol wipes from eBay for £1.
    – paradroid
    Jan 26, 2013 at 17:50
  • This works! I have an oily keyboard before and now it was rough again!
    – Player1
    May 27, 2021 at 16:44

The easiest way is to run it in the dishwasher.

There's a YouTube video demonstrating this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_uCvGYherU

Even Jeff Atwood mentions it: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/001115.html

The video shows the keyboard going in whole - I remove the keys first and put them in the little things holder in our dishwasher - this helps the drying time.

  • He's aksing for the best way, not the easiest way. If this worked for you lucky you, but this I've seen keyboards destroyed by doing this, often when the keyboard is plugged into the computer after the "clean".
    – Ash
    Aug 18, 2009 at 2:52
  • 3
    @Ash I think some of the common mistakes with trying to wash the keyboard in the dishwasher is that they don't wait long enough for it to dry as well as using heat dry or hot water cycle. Dec 10, 2012 at 16:01

I found the new pledge wipes (looks like kid diaper wipes, but treated with pledge, the electronics one works best) work great on my laptop.

edit... Here is what I am talking about: link text


Since its for a laptop, remove the keyboard. I've done it a lot of time and its remarkably simple.

You have to unscrew some screws to get it out, but (depending on the model) its actually easy to snap/unsnap the keyboard. Just be careful you do not pull the keyboard cable too hard.

Once remove, just clean it with a cloth or cotton swabs.

  • 1
    We're just talking about grease/oils on the keys. Why would you remove a laptop keyboard just to clean the surface of the keys? Removing a laptop keyboard is not something to be done lightly, especially if you haven't done it before.
    – Ash
    Aug 18, 2009 at 3:09
  • I stand corrected
    – MrValdez
    Aug 19, 2009 at 2:23

If you do not want to use alcohol you can always use dish detergent. Pour hot water into a bowl, add some dish detergent into it and soak some cloth with it and wring it out. Wipe your keyboard with the cloth and dry it with a towel. You can use some q-tips to clean the dirt between the keys.


Since laptops are made to be used outside of the usual office environments, they tend to get dirty much more quickly than their desktop counterparts. The keyboards in particular are delicate and should be kept clean to ensure proper operation. - extracted from article How To Clean A Laptop Keyboard

Please read their informative article published in How To Clean Stuff. The comprehensive article will show you:

  • About Air Dusters
  • Cleaning a Laptop Keyboard
  • Cleaning your laptop with the keys intact
  • Cleaning your laptop with the keys removed
  • Cleaning the rest of the laptop
  • Letting your keyboard dry
  • Major Spill?
  • Keeping your laptop’s keyboard clean


Alternatively use the Muc-Off Rescue Kit which claims to remove dust, dirt, grime, fingerprints & oily residue to kill 99% of germs.



I generally recommend any plastic safe electronics cleaner.

Moisten a cleaning cloth (preferably lint free) with it and clean the keys.

You could also use isopropyl alcohol, or any plastic-safe residue free cleaner.


Perhaps I'm in the minority, but my cleaning process involves simply discarding my existing, nasty keyboard, then cracking open up a new one. The same follows with mice.

Of course, this requires you to have a small stock of keyboards and mice on hand... but they're cheap, so long as you don't need the ultra cool ones. A $10 Microsoft Natural with volume control is all I need.

No, it doesn't have all the crazy buttons... but you can't beat its best feature: it's dispoable!

  • 4
    -1 the user has to buy a new laptop?
    – kinokijuf
    Jul 15, 2012 at 18:14
  • @kinokijuf Laptop keyboards are often fairly easy to replace.
    – Bob
    Dec 10, 2012 at 15:15

WD-40. If its good enough to clean my engine, its good enough for my keyboard too.

Hint: apply with a soft cloth.

Disclaimer: careful not to drip it into your laptop ... take the keyboard out first.

  • I haven't tried it and don't know, but if your engine is made of plastic then I guess you're right ;)
    – Ash
    Aug 18, 2009 at 9:00

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