How to properly clean any Mac computer's keyboard

Rafi Letzter/Tech InsiderKnowing how to clean a Mac keyboard can keep your computer running efficiently.

  • At first glance, figuring out how to clean a Mac keyboard can look tricky, but it’s a necessary process.
  • Dirty keyboards can become unresponsive and, if left uncleaned for long enough, they can become inoperable, requiring professional repair.
  • Effective cleaning of a Mac’s keyboard should only take a few minutes if done on a regular basis.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Just two weeks ago, it finally came time to replace my seven-year-old MacBook Pro. I’d lost hours of work watching the spinning wheel of death, but the last nail in the coffin was my D, F, and C keys becoming unresponsive.

I had to jam the keys down with brutal force to get the letters to appear on screen, a battle I waged for all of an hour before throwing up my hands and heading to the Apple Store.

I know the unresponsive key thing was probably my fault; knowing I’d be replacing the MacBook sometime this year, I had given up on cleaning it long ago, so I can only imagine the buildup of dust and crumbs permeating the keyboard.

Now that I’m typing away on a brand new MacBook Pro, I’m committed to cleaning the keyboard at least monthly. Sure, a weekly cleaning might be even better, but let’s be realistic here.

Check out the products used in this article:


MacBook Pro (From $US1,299 at Apple)

How to clean any Mac computer’s keyboard

For an ideal Mac keyboard cleaning, you will need a can of compressed air, a vacuum with a soft bristled attachment, and a few clean lint-free cloths.

1. Power off your Mac and remove any cables or hardware connected to the computer.

2. Hold the keyboard upright at a 75º angle (with the keys slightly facing the ceiling, not the floor), with the long axis of the device parallel to the floor.

3. Spray the compressed air along the keys. Make sure you hold the can upright, as it will expel cold fluid if turned, and keep the nozzle about one inch from the keys. Spray consistently from right-to-left or left-to-right, moving from the upper rows to the lower rows.

4. Now turn the computer screen vertical and/or keep the keyboard at a 75º angle, then spray from the “top” to the “bottom” (the end with the Escape, Caps Lock, and Function keys down to the arrow and Enter key side, e.g.) using the same method.

5. Place the computer or keyboard on a clean, flat surface, and lightly run the vacuum over the keys using the soft bristled attachment. Follow a pattern from right-to-left or left-to-right, top-to-bottom.

Steven John/Business InsiderYou can use a bristled vacuum to suck up the loosened debris.

6. Lightly dampen a portion of cloth with water, then gently pass it over a portion of the keyboard in a steady, single-direction motion. Make sure to use several cloths or different portions of the same larger cloth to clean the keyboard to ensure the dirt, dust, and grease are removed, not merely moved about.

And give your computer a few minutes to fully dry after cleaning it before you power it on.

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