How to Clean Keycaps: A Simple Guide for Keyboard Maintenance

If you’re a proud owner of a mechanical keyboard, you know that maintaining its appearance and functionality is crucial. Keycaps often accumulate dirt, dust, and oils from your fingers, which can not only be unsightly but can also impact the keyboard’s performance. Learning how to clean your keycaps is essential, not only for aesthetics but also ensuring a smoother typing experience.

Cleaning keycaps might seem complicated, but with the right tools and techniques, you can easily restore their pristine condition. The process usually involves removing the keycaps, soaking them in a cleaning solution, and then drying them before reassembling. It’s also a great opportunity to clean the other parts of your keyboard, which can be equally prone to dirt build-up.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the step-by-step process of cleaning your keycaps. By the end, you will have a better understanding of how to take care of your beloved mechanical keyboard, keeping it looking and functioning its best for years to come.

Tools and Supplies

To clean your keycaps effectively, you will need the following tools and supplies:

  • Keycap puller: A wire keycap puller is the most effective tool for removing keycaps safely. It prevents damage to the keycaps and helps you easily access them for cleaning.
  • Microfiber cloth: A soft, lint-free cloth is ideal for wiping down the surfaces of your keyboard and keycaps. This material will not scratch or abrade the surfaces, ensuring they maintain their original appearance.
  • Dish soap: A mild dish soap mixed with warm water is an excellent solution for soaking your keycaps. It helps break down dirt and grime without causing harm to the plastic material.
  • Towel: A clean, dry towel is necessary for drying your keycaps after they have soaked in the soapy water solution. Avoid using paper towels, as they might leave lint on the keycaps.
  • Compressed air: A can of compressed air is useful for blowing out dust and debris from your keyboard. This keeps the internal components clean and functioning at their best.
  • Isopropyl alcohol (optional): For deeper cleaning, especially for the keyboard itself, using isopropyl alcohol with a soft cloth can offer more effective results.
  • Brushes: Soft-bristled brushes, such as toothbrushes, are helpful for scrubbing hard-to-reach areas of the keycaps and keyboard.
  • Vacuum cleaner: This tool is optional but can be useful for removing loose dirt and debris from the keyboard before you start cleaning the keycaps.
  • Cleaning wipe: Pre-moistened cleaning wipes are excellent for quick cleanups or touch-ups on your keyboard.

Gather these tools and supplies before starting the cleaning process to ensure a smooth, efficient task. Remember to be gentle and patient when cleaning your keyboard and keycaps to avoid causing any damage.


Unplug the Keyboard

Before cleaning your keycaps, ensure that your keyboard is turned off and disconnected from your computer. If it has a removable cable, simply unplug it. If it’s a wired keyboard, detach it from your computer’s USB or PS/2 port. This is important to avoid any potential damage to your keyboard’s internal components.

Although the process is safe for your keyboard, extra caution should be taken if you have a mechanical keyboard. Mechanical keyboards can be more sensitive to water and cleaning solutions, so make sure your workspace is well-ventilated and free of spills or debris.

Using your desk or a large, clean surface, lay out a soft towel or cloth. This will protect your keycaps and keyboard from scratches during the cleaning process.

If your keyboard has any volume or multimedia controls, they should be turned off before proceeding. This is crucial to prevent any accidental inputs or adjustments.

Once your keyboard is safely disconnected and your workspace is prepared, you can move on to the next step: removing your keycaps.

Removing Keycaps

Using a Keycap Puller

To remove your keycaps, start by using a keycap puller. A wire keycap puller is recommended, as it offers better grip and is less likely to damage the keycaps or switches. Here’s how to use it:

  1. First, disconnect your keyboard from your computer to avoid any unwanted input.
  2. Position the wire loops of the keycap puller around the edges of the key you want to remove.
  3. Gently apply upward pressure to lift the keycap away from the switch beneath it.
  4. Repeat this process for all the keycaps you want to clean.

Remember to leave larger keys, like the spacebar, enter, and shift keys, in place as they can be more challenging to remove and reinstall.

Alternative Methods

If you don’t have a keycap puller, you can try using alternative methods. Be cautious, as these methods may not be as efficient or safe for your keycaps and switches:

  • Two credit cards: Slide the rounded edge of a credit card under opposite sides of the keycap and gently pry upwards. Be careful not to apply too much force to avoid damaging the keycap or switch.
  • Spoon: This method is best for larger keycaps like the spacebar. Slide the tip of a spoon underneath one edge of the keycap and carefully lift it up.

After removing your keycaps, you can move on to cleaning them. Soak them in warm soapy water or use denture tablets for a thorough clean, and then let them air dry.

Remember, always be gentle when removing keycaps and avoid creating unnecessary stress on the switches. With patience and the right tools, removing keycaps can be an easy and efficient process.

Cleaning Methods

Soapy Water Solution

To clean your keycaps using a soapy water solution, follow these steps:

  1. Disconnect your keyboard from your computer.
  2. Use a wire keycap puller to remove the keycaps, leaving the space bar, enter, and shift keys in place.
  3. Prepare a bowl of warm water and add a few drops of mild dish soap.
  4. Soak the keycaps in the soapy water for about 30 to 60 minutes, ensuring they are fully submerged.
  5. After soaking, gently scrub the keycaps using an old toothbrush or a soft brush to remove any stubborn dirt or grime.
  6. Rinse the keycaps thoroughly under running water to remove soap residue.
  7. Allow the keycaps to air dry overnight on a clean towel, ensuring all moisture is gone before reassembling your keyboard.

Compressed Air

Another method to keep your keyboard and keycaps clean is using compressed air. To do this:

  1. Disconnect your keyboard from your computer.
  2. Use a can of compressed air to blow debris from between the keycaps and the spaces surrounding them.
  3. Tilt your keyboard at an angle while using the compressed air to ensure the dirt is blown out rather than deeper into the keyboard.
  4. Repeat this process as necessary to remove all visible dust and debris.


Cleaning your keyboard and keycaps using a vacuum cleaner can be effective at removing debris. Here’s how:

  1. Disconnect your keyboard from your computer.
  2. Attach a small brush or crevice tool to your vacuum cleaner hose.
  3. Gently run the vacuum over your keyboard, being cautious not to apply too much pressure as this may result in accidentally removing keycaps.
  4. Focus on the areas between keycaps and around the edges of the keyboard for optimum results.

Remember to regularly clean your keyboard to maintain its appearance and functionality.

Deep Cleaning

Using Isopropyl Alcohol

To deep clean your keycaps using isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol), first remove them from the keyboard. Next, prepare a cleaning solution by mixing equal parts of isopropyl alcohol and water. Be sure to use a concentration of at least 70% alcohol for optimal effectiveness.

Using a soft-bristled brush, gently scrub the keycaps with the isopropyl alcohol solution. For stubborn grime or sticky residue, you may also use a Q-tip to reach small grooves and corners of the keycaps. Remember to be cautious around any printed or engraved labels as harsh rubbing may cause them to fade.

After cleaning with the solution, allow the keycaps to dry completely. This can be expedited by using a lint-free cloth to pat them down or placing them on a clean, dry surface to air-dry.

Denture Tablets Solution

Alternatively, you may use denture tablets to deep clean your keycaps. Follow the steps below:

  1. Remove the keycaps from your keyboard.
  2. Fill a container with warm water.
  3. Add the required number of denture tablets, as mentioned on the product packaging.
  4. Submerge your keycaps in the denture tablet solution.
  5. Allow the keycaps to soak for at least 6 hours (or overnight for best results). This will help remove stubborn grease and grime.
  6. After soaking, use a soft-bristled brush or Q-tip to gently scrub each keycap for a thorough cleaning.
  7. Rinse the keycaps under running water to remove any residues.
  8. Pat the keycaps dry using a lint-free cloth and allow them to air-dry completely before reassembling them on the keyboard.

When deep cleaning your keycaps, ensure you do not use hydrogen peroxide, as it may cause damage to the keycap material. Moreover, avoid exposing them to excessive moisture, which could lead to warping. With proper deep cleaning techniques, your keycaps should be clean and ready for use again.

Drying and Reassembly

In this section, we will discuss how to dry your keycaps and reassemble your keyboard after cleaning. The subsections outlined are Air Drying. Remember to follow these steps carefully to ensure your keycaps dry properly and your keyboard functions as intended.

Air Drying

After you’ve cleaned your keycaps, it’s time to let them dry. You have a few different options to choose from:

  1. Microfiber cloth: Gently pat each keycap with a clean, dry microfiber cloth to remove excess water. This type of cloth is highly absorbent and will ensure that no moisture remains on the surface of your keycaps.
  2. Towel: Alternatively, you can lay a clean towel on a flat surface and place your freshly washed keycaps on top. To maximize drying efficiency, avoid overcrowding and ensure that each keycap is in contact with the towel.
  3. Air dry: Finally, you can opt to let your keycaps air dry overnight. This method requires a little more time but is an excellent option if you don’t have a microfiber cloth or towel available. Spread your keycaps out on a drying rack or another flat surface where they can receive adequate airflow and aren’t exposed to direct sunlight.

During the drying process, avoid using any heat sources, such as hairdryers, as this could potentially damage or warp your keycaps.

Once your keycaps are completely dry, it’s time to reassemble your keyboard. Consult the photograph you took before cleaning to ensure that each key is placed back in its correct position. Gently press each keycap onto its corresponding switch until it clicks into place.

And that’s it! You’ve successfully dried and reassembled your keyboard after cleaning the keycaps. Remember to perform regular maintenance to extend the lifespan of your keyboard and keep it looking and functioning at its best.

Maintenance and Prevention

To maintain the cleanliness and extend the lifespan of your gaming keyboard, it’s essential to incorporate regular maintenance and prevention practices. By doing so, you not only increase the hygiene of your keyboard but also its functionality.

First, keep dust and crumbs at bay by using a microfibre cloth or a dry cloth to wipe your keyboard regularly. Gently cleaning your keyboard every day helps prevent the build-up of dirt and particles, ensuring a smooth typing and gaming experience.

- Microfibre cloth
- Dry cloth

For a more thorough cleaning, the occasional use of warm soapy water can help you deal with stubborn dirt and grime. Remove the keycaps and immerse them in the soapy water for a few minutes, carefully scrubbing them with a soft brush when necessary. Allow the keycaps to air dry before reassembling them back onto the keyboard.

1. Remove keycaps
2. Soak in warm soapy water
3. Scrub with a soft brush (if needed)
4. Air dry and reassemble

In addition to manual cleaning, consider using a handheld vacuum to eliminate dust, crumbs, and other particles. Ensure the vacuum cleaner has a brush attachment, which helps avoid any damage to your keyboard. An alternative method is to use a can of compressed air to blow away debris without disassembling the keyboard.

- Handheld vacuum (with brush attachment)
- Compressed air

Finally, prevention is key when it comes to maintaining a clean gaming keyboard. Avoid eating or drinking around your keyboard, and do not use it with dirty hands. By taking these precautionary measures, your keyboard will have a prolonged lifespan and provide you with a better gaming experience.

Remember, regular maintenance and prevention will help keep your gaming keyboard clean, hygienic, and functioning optimally.

Additional Resources

If you’re looking for more guidance on cleaning your keycaps, there are a few valuable resources available. These resources can help you through the process with step-by-step instructions and provide insight into specific tools and supplies you’ll need.

  • Video Instructions: For visual learners, there are many helpful videos on YouTube that demonstrate how to clean keycaps. One such tutorial can be found on the [How To Clean Your Keycaps YouTube video] ( It covers a wide range of keycap types and offers helpful tips on the cleaning process.
  • Step-by-Step Guide: Detailed examples on cleaning keycaps can also be found in written guides like the one from [wikiHow] ( This comprehensive guide breaks down each step, making it easy to follow and ensuring your keycaps are thoroughly cleaned.
  • Tools Required: For a successful keycap cleaning, you’ll need the following tools:
    • Wire keycap puller or keycap removal tool.
    • A shallow container.
    • A soft brush, like a toothbrush or paintbrush.
    • A towel for drying off your keycaps.
  • Supplies: To clean your keycaps effectively, you need the appropriate cleaning products. Some common supplies to gather include:
    • Warm water.
    • Denture tablets or dish soap.
    • Compressed air (for cleaning your keyboard).
    • A damp cloth (to clean any grime in your keyboard).

Remember, it’s important to customize your cleaning process based on the materials of your keycaps and any specific manufacturer recommendations. By utilizing these resources and familiarizing yourself with the cleaning process, you can keep your keycaps looking and performing like new. Happy cleaning!

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.