How do I save a keyboard after a coffee spill?


You know those large McDonald's coffees, the really big ones? I knocked one of those over on my keyboard this morning. On the upside, I found that this was at least as effective as drinking it would have been at waking me up. On the downside, there is coffee dripping out of my keyboard. It was the keyboard for my desktop PC and not my laptop, thankfully, and I disconnected it and have it upside down in a sink dripping coffee. Is there any way to save the keyboard, or is it just McToast at this point?

Topic: Hardware
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6 total
Christopher Nerney
Vote Up (24)

If you're really brave you can try cleaning it in a dishwasher, as this person recommends. (Caution: You need to remove some inside parts.)



Ryan Northrup

Huh, never thought of that.  I'll have to give that a whirl.   Some of the comments in that article indicate that you don't even need to take out the electronics; just throw the whole thing in there as-is, cut back on the detergent, run it, and let it dry for a couple days.
Vote Up (22)

If it was a really bad spill, I'd consider it an opportunity to replace the keyboard. If it wasn't too bad, then you might be able to wipe it down or rinse it off. Then let it dry and see if it's usable.

Vote Up (20)

Like Ryan mentioned, I hope that you drink your coffee black with no sugar.  It's not too hard to clean a keyboard that has had "plain" coffee spilled in it, but sugar makes thinks sticky, and it's a lot harder to get everything to feel right.  Nothing worse than that sticky feeling....ugh.  You might be able to just pop the keys off, but it sounds like you have a grade A spill, so taking it apart and being able to really get to everything would be better.  A damp, non-lint cloth will go a long way in cleaning up the mess inside.  A can of compressed air is good too.    


If the keyboard is a cheap-o and you don't care too much if you have to replace it, I would 100% try the dishwasher thing.  Even if it doesn't work, it would still be like having your keyboard star in its very own mini-disaster film.  Will our hero survive?  Will it ever be the same?  Stay tuned......

Ryan Northrup
Vote Up (20)

It depends on the keyboard, but it's not unheard of to be able to recover from a coffee spill.  Depending on how much cream and sugar you put in it, it might be a bit sticky; I'd remove all the keys, swab everything down to get it clean, replace the keys, and test to make sure that things are working fine.  Most keyboards nowadays have an elastic membrane, which helps prevent some damage (though they're not rated to be waterproof, so I'd test it on a computer that you don't care about as much).


Hope that helps!  I deal with quite a bit of keyboard coffee spillage as an IT guy :P

Cliff Thier
Vote Up (12)

Prevent the accident rather than coping with it, by moving the beverage off the desk or table and away from the electronics. Get computer users to use a device such as this:


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