To wash your keyboard or not to wash your keyboard, that is the question

Ever want to do this? Credit: flickr/Stephen_Henault

Ever have the urge to put your keyboard in the dishwasher? Turns out that’s not such a nutty idea

Is your keyboard grossing you out? Is it grimier than underneath your kids’ fingernails? Or did you spill your Coke/coffee/Five Hour Energy drink all over it when that 2:30 feeling hit? Well, then you may want consider giving that keyboard a good cleaning.

I don’t mean wiping it off with a cloth or cleaning it out with some compressed air or even using Silly Putty-like stuff to get out the crumbs from your mid-afternoon (or morning) cookie. No, I’m talking about putting that sucker in the sink or dishwasher and scrub-dub-dubbing it until it’s almost as shiny and non-sticky as it was the day you got it.

But is it really a good idea, you ask, to dunk my beloved wireless Apple or vintage IBM PC keyboard in the sink or - gasp! - subject it to the dishwasher? Turns out, while it’s usually not recommended by the manufacturer, you can probably get away with it. It doesn’t take much Googling to find lots of examples of people who have either hand washed their keyboard or put it in the dishwasher - and it lived to be typed on another day. 

So, while there are some people who still advise against it, as crazy as it may sound at first, washing your keyboard really does seem like a viable option.

Should you choose to go down the keyboard washing road, you should keep a few tips in mind:

  • Make sure cords are covered in plastic (though some people don’t even bother with this)
  • If cleaning in the sink, use a mild soap
  • If putting it in the dishwasher, put it on the top rack and use little or no detergent
  • If you remove the keys for individual washing, make sure the water isn’t too hot or they can warp
  • Most importantly, give it enough time to completely dry; plan on a week to be sure 

Now, if you are extremely law-abiding and aren’t comfortable going against the manufacturer's recommendations, then maybe you should consider buying a keyboard that is officially marketed as washable. There are a number of these options available.

First off is the recently introduced Logitech K310. For $39.99 you can have this keyboard which can be washed in the sink without fear. Kensington offers a similar washable keyboard, also for $39.99. HP (remember them?), too, sells a washable keyboard, along with a washable mouse, for $69.

None of the Logitech, Kensington and HP keyboards, however, are (officially) dishwasher safe, although there are keyboards advertised as such, if you prefer to avoid dishpan hands. Unotron offers a line of dishwasher safe keyboards and mice, as does Seal Shield, at a range of prices. Both companies’ keyboards have water-proof USB cables and can be used wet or even submerged (in case, say, you need to work on those TPS reports while scuba diving on your honeymoon). There are other options as well, though many are geared towards specific industries such as health care providers.

Of course, if this all sounds nuts to you, then just keep the 2 liter bottle of Diet Coke - not to mention the kids - far away from your keyboard and you shouldn’t ever have to worry about such things.

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