19.6 Cleaning a Keyboard
Keyboards collect all manner of dirt, dust, and sticky spills, particularly if you smoke or drink near them. For routine cleaning, simply turn the keyboard upside down and shake it vigorously, which causes an incredible amount of stuff to fall out. Monthly, use your vacuum cleaner to do a thorough job. It's a good idea to shut down the system (or at least close all files) before you start vacuuming. Otherwise, the random series of keystrokes that vacuuming generates can have some unexpected results. In one case, we deleted a document. Formula 409 and similar commercial cleaners do a good job of removing grunge, but make sure the system is turned off while you use them, and try to avoid allowing too much to run down inside the keyboard. It's better to spray cleaner on a paper towel and then wipe than to spray the cleaner directly on the keyboard.
All of that presupposes that your keyboard is just normally dirty. For cleaning seriously dirty keyboards (see Figure 19-5), we've been using the dishwasher method for more than 20 years. Most people think we're kidding when we recommend it, but it works for us. We've used it successfully with both mechanical and membrane-based keyboards. Proceed as follows.
Figure 19-5. A keyboard after more than a year without cleaning
We generally put the clean keyboard back in our stock of spares, where it may have another month or three to air dry naturally, but we've also reconnected a keyboard immediately after such treatment without any problems. We used to be concerned that puddles might still be lurking inside the keyboard, so we'd disassemble it and dry it thoroughly before reconnecting it. But we've found that a couple hours inside a 150 degree oven does a pretty good job of evaporating any residual water. Your mileage may vary. If you hear a sloshing sound after drying, it's probably a good idea to disassemble the keyboard and check further.