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Cleaning a Mac Keyboard the Right Way

written by: Steve McFarlane•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 5/16/2011

We explain how to remove, dust, grime, coffee, soda and the bits of your lunch that may have found their way onto your Mac keyboard.

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    Apple's Recommendation

    There are some general precautions that you should follow when cleaning a Mac. To start with it is recommended that you shut down the computer, remove the power adapter and remove the battery (if possible on the model you are using).

    Apple recommends that you “use a damp, soft, lint-free cloth to clean the computer’s exterior. Avoid getting moisture in any openings." It is never a good idea to spray or pour liquids directly on the computer, so avoid using any method that will introduce too much moisture. Apple also recommends that you do not “use aerosol sprays, solvents, or abrasives."

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    How to Get it Done

    If you are wondering how to clean my Mac keyboard, know that you first will need the following cleaning aids and tools.

    • A micro fiber cloth or a clean lint-free cloth.
    • Cotton swabs.How To Clean My MAC Keyboard 
    • 50/50 solution of isopropyl alcohol and distilled water.
    • iklear – if you get this product you won’t need the above mentioned items.
    • Compressed air for electronics (optional).
    • A flat head screw driver (optional in some cases).

    If you are cleaning the keyboard after a liquid was spilled on it, you should immediately disconnect the keyboard and turn it upside down to allow it to drip dry; leave it for at least 24-hours to ensure that it dries properly. Here is how to remove the dirt from your Mac QWERTY.

    1. We will start by using the compressed air to blow away all the dust and loose bits that may have found their way onto the keyboard and under its keys. Regular store bought compressed isn’t powerful enough to dislodge the keys so there is no need to worry about damaging the keyboard.
    2. Next, dampen the lint-free cloth with the 50/50 solution of isopropyl alcohol and distilled water and use it to gently wipe the entire keyboard.
    3. To clean between the keys, dampen a cotton swab in the cleaning solution; squeeze to remove any excess liquid and use it to clean the corners.

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    Tougher Cleaning Jobs

    If the keyboard is very dirty such that the gunk has reached under the keys, you may need to remove those keys. If you decide on doing so, take a picture of the keyboard layout before you precede, or at least remove, clean and replace a small number of keys at a time so that it is easier to reinstall each once you are done cleaning. Be warned though, the larger keys, such as the Enter and Space Bar keys, are harder to remove and reinstall so it may be worth your while to avoid removing them.

    While the process for removing keyboard keys is quite simple, if you get it wrong you could break the fragile hinges and clips that keep the keys in place and allow the keys to be pressed. In any case, you can remove each key by using a flat head screwdriver to pry off each key. You can find a short YouTube video on how to easily remove and reinstall the keys on a MacBook here.

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    • "MacBook Pro: Care, Use, and Safety Information,"
    • Image “How To Clean My MAC Keyboard,"