How to Clean Mechanical Keyboard Switches: Expert Tips and Tricks

Mechanical keyboards are known for their durability, tactile feedback, and overall performance. However, with daily use, dust and grime can build up on your keyboard, affecting its functionality and longevity. Fortunately, cleaning mechanical keyboard switches is a straightforward process that can help you maintain and extend its life.

In this guide, you will learn how to properly clean your mechanical keyboard switches to prevent issues and keep your typing experience smooth. From removing keycaps to safely handling delicate components, these steps will ensure your mechanical keyboard remains in excellent condition.

Whether you own a high-end or budget-friendly mechanical keyboard, regular maintenance, and proper cleaning will maximize its full potential. By investing a little bit of time and effort, your keyboard will reward you with exceptional performance for years to come.

Why Clean Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Cleaning your mechanical keyboard switches is an important aspect of maintaining your keyboard’s performance and longevity. Over time, dust, debris, and dirt can build up within the switches, leading to unresponsive keys, sticky keys, or even causing damage to the mechanical components.

By regularly cleaning your mechanical keyboard, you can prevent these issues and ensure that your keyboard remains in top condition. A clean keyboard not only functions better but also provides a more pleasant typing experience.

Taking proper care of your mechanical keyboard can save you from having to replace it prematurely, which can be costly, especially if you have invested in a high-quality keyboard. Moreover, keeping your keyboard clean can reduce the spread of bacteria and germs, promoting a healthier environment whether it’s at home or work.

In summary, cleaning your mechanical keyboard switches is vital for the following reasons:

  • Maintaining optimal keyboard performance
  • Preventing damage to mechanical components
  • Prolonging the lifespan of your keyboard
  • Ensuring a pleasant and healthy typing experience

Remember, a little effort in maintaining your mechanical keyboard can go a long way in ensuring its longevity and performance.

Tools and Supplies for Cleaning

To achieve optimal results when cleaning your mechanical keyboard switches, it’s essential to gather the correct tools and supplies. The following items will ensure that you can efficiently and effectively clean the switches.

Keycap Puller: A keycap puller is specifically designed to remove keycaps without causing any damage. This is the first tool you should have when starting the cleaning process.

Small Brush and Cotton Swabs: Both a small brush and cotton swabs are vital for reaching the nooks and crannies beneath the keycaps.

Compressed Air or Vacuum Cleaner: These tools help to remove dust and debris that might have accumulated between the switches. A vacuum cleaner without rotating brushes is recommended.

Microfiber Cloth: A microfiber cloth is handy for wiping down surfaces during the cleaning process.

Isopropyl Alcohol: When combined with cotton swabs, isopropyl alcohol is excellent for removing any stubborn grime or residue that has built up on the switch components. Make sure to use a concentration of at least 70%.

Tweezers and Flathead Screwdriver: These tools can be useful for more intricate tasks, such as reinserting tiny switch parts or removing stubborn debris.

Before starting the cleaning process, make sure your workspace is well-lit, organized, and spacious. Additionally, you’ll want to keep your cleaning supplies easily accessible. This will help to ensure an efficient and effective cleaning process for your mechanical keyboard switches.

Preventive Cleaning

Routine Dusting and Vacuuming

To maintain your mechanical keyboard and keep it in optimal condition, it’s essential to perform preventive cleaning regularly. One effective method to remove dust and debris from your keyboard is routine dusting and vacuuming. Use a soft brush or compressed air to gently remove dust from the surface. For a more thorough cleaning, you can also use a vacuum with a brush attachment to clear out any accumulated debris between the keys. Be cautious while using canned air, as it can push the dirt further inside, so it’s better to hold the keyboard at an angle, allowing the debris to escape.

Partial Keycap Cleaning

Another preventive measure to keep your mechanical keyboard clean is partial keycap cleaning. This method involves removing a few keycaps at a time, cleaning beneath them, and then replacing them. Follow these steps for partial keycap cleaning:

  1. Unplug the keyboard to prevent any accidental keystrokes.
  2. Use a keycap puller to gently remove a few keycaps from your keyboard. Be careful not to apply too much force, as this can damage the keycap or the switch beneath it.
  3. With a soft brush or cotton swab, clean the area underneath the removed keycaps, focusing on any visible dirt or debris.
  4. If desired, you can also clean the keycaps themselves using a soapy solution or isopropyl alcohol. Make sure to dry them thoroughly before reattaching them to the keyboard.
  5. Reattach the keycaps carefully, and move on to the next set until all areas have been cleaned.

By incorporating these preventive cleaning techniques into your mechanical keyboard maintenance routine, you can ensure your keyboard remains in peak condition and prolong its lifespan. Remember, the frequency of cleaning depends on the environment and usage, so adjust your cleaning schedule accordingly.

Deep Cleaning Process

Removing Keycaps

Start by disconnecting your keyboard from your computer. Use a keycap puller to carefully remove all of the keycaps. Make sure to take a photo of your keyboard layout before removal for reference when you’re reinstalling them later.

Cleaning Keyboard Keycaps

Place all keycaps in a bowl, cover them with warm water, and add a bit of dish soap. Ensure that the keycaps are completely submerged. Let the keycaps soak for a few hours to loosen any dirt and grime. After soaking, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub each keycap gently. Rinse the keycaps thoroughly with clean water and let them air dry on a towel.

Cleaning the Keyboard Base

With the keycaps removed, use a can of compressed air or an electric duster to blow off any dust and debris from the keyboard base. You can also use a small brush or a dry cloth to wipe away any remaining dust particles. Be cautious not to damage the mechanical keyboard switches when cleaning the base.

Cleaning Switches and Stabilizers

Dip a cotton swab or microfiber cloth in isopropyl alcohol to clean the switches and stabilizers. Gently wipe the surfaces of the switches and the stabilizers, making sure not to leave any excess rubbing alcohol that could seep into the PCB or plate. Use tweezers to remove any large debris that may be stuck around the switches or stabilizers.

Drying and Reinstalling Components

Allow your keyboard and keycaps to dry completely before reassembling. Make sure there is no residual moisture on switches or stabilizers. Once everything is dry, begin reinstalling the keycaps, using the photo you took earlier as a reference. Pay extra attention to the spacing bar, shift, and other larger keys that have stabilizers.

By following this deep cleaning process, you can maintain the performance and longevity of your mechanical keyboard. Always handle your keyboard components with care and avoid making exaggerated claims about cleaning methods not mentioned in this guide.

Post-Cleaning Testing and Care

After cleaning your mechanical keyboard switches, it is important to test the functionality and ensure proper care to maintain its longevity.

Before reconnecting your mechanical keyboard, make sure all the keycaps are completely dry and properl_anchor=y placed. Once everything is in order, plug the keyboard back into your computer or gaming device.

Take the time to test every key by typing sentences or paragraphs on a word processing program or an online text editor. This will help you identify any sticky or non-responsive keys that might need further attention. As you type, pay attention to the feel and sound of each key press to ensure they are consistent and functioning correctly.

In the case of a gaming keyboard, you may want to test the keyboard’s performance within your favorite games. Ensure that all the essential keys and macros are working as desired for seamless gameplay.

For laptop keyboards, make sure that the keyboard connects well with the laptop, and the internal cables are properly seated. If you have a detachable laptop keyboard, double-check that it is securely connected.

To keep your keyboard in good condition after cleaning, consider implementing some preventative measures:

  • Avoid eating or drinking near your keyboard to prevent crumbs and spillage from causing issues.
  • Keep the surroundings clean and dust-free, as dust may accumulate on the keyboard over time.
  • Regularly clean your keyboard with a soft cloth or a small handheld vacuum cleaner to prevent dirt buildup.
  • Use a keyboard cover to protect the keys from accidental spills and debris.

By following these care tips, you can maintain your mechanical keyboard’s performance and extend its lifespan.

Alternatives and Precautions

Maintaining your mechanical keyboard is essential to ensure its longevity and optimal performance. Before you start cleaning your mechanical keyboard switches, consider a few alternatives and precautions to keep your device safe.

In some situations, you might want to think about using a membrane keyboard rather than a mechanical one. This type of keyboard tends to be more resistant to spills and easier to clean due to its flat design. However, keep in mind that the typing experience on a membrane keyboard might be less satisfying than that of a mechanical one, as some people prefer the tactile feedback of the latter.

When dealing with electronics, it is crucial to take specific safety measures to protect the different components from damage. Before starting any cleaning process, unplug your keyboard to avoid short circuits or further issues. Additionally, avoid using water or other liquids on the main board, as it could harm the electronics. Instead, opt for air-dusters or compressed air to blow off any dust, dirt, or debris1.

Deferred cleaning is an approach you can use, particularly when dealing with spills on your keyboard. This method consists of removing the excess liquid immediately and letting the keyboard dry for a few hours, or even a day, before continuing with the cleaning process2. While this may disrupt your work routine, it is critical to give your keyboard time to dry to avoid damaging its internals.

When cleaning the switches, it’s essential to take note of the following precautions:

  • Capture an image of the keyboard for reference before removing keys3. This way, you can easily reassemble the keys in the correct order after cleaning.
  • Be gentle when removing keycaps to avoid breaking the switch mechanisms.
  • Do not apply too much pressure or force when cleaning the switches, as it could damage the delicate internals and affect their performance.

By taking these precautions and considering the alternatives, you can maintain your mechanical keyboard switches and extend the life of your keyboard.


  1. How to Clean a Mechanical Keyboard – Tom’s Guide
  2. How to Deep Clean Your Mechanical Keyboard – TechRadar
  3. How to Properly Clean Mechanical Keyboard Switches – 10Roar

About the Author

Dan was initially only focused around gaming reviews and other content back in 2019ish on this platform. Since then he has decided to focus on the hardware and software side of things instead of just the games themselves. He has been focused on PC gaming and wants to give back to his community as much as possible.