Sticky Keyboards - Inquiring Minds Want To Know

So your pounding out that crucial scene and the words are flowing like free draft beer in strip bar. You reward yourself with a quick snack and a swig of your drink, too busy to stop and eat, you eat/drink while you work. Three scenes and six drinks later you find you have demolished all of your favorite snack. With a cry of despair you realize that the napkin/paper towel you were using to “keep your fingers clean” looks like a used hazmat bio container. With horror you realize your keyboard has suffered hours of pounding from dirty/sticky fingers.

You know have done this at least once. What were some of the most interesting things you have cleaned from your keyboard keys?

My two favorites were

(1) orange cheese puff dust
(2) glaze from pastry snacks

What were your horrors?


Well, my daughter once poured an entire can of Sprite on my keyboard. I didn’t clean it, though. I got a new one.

My worst keyboard spillage wasn’t on my own keyboard. Last year a Scrivener user and journalist who runs a writing group at a prestigious London media club called The Hospital (hello Paul!) invited me to meet up with him to discuss Scrivener. I’ve always wanted to go to one of those invite-only (or pay a lot for membership) clubs (when I moved to London 12 years ago I imagined that would be the sort of place I’d be hanging around all the time…), and he was (is) a really nice guy, so I went along. During the course of our conversation, he had his Powerbook - on which he keeps all his journalism pieces and writing - out on the desk, and I was gesticulating (I do that too much) and knocked his water all over his Powerbook.

I was mortified.

There followed lots of mopping up, profuse apologies from me, and he had to get a CD from someone at the club to try to backup all of his data. Luckily there was no damage ultimately, but I still burn with embarrassment when I think about it. I really am glad of the internet and the fact that I can do most of my “meetings” or conversations with people virtually, through the channel of my computer, where I can’t make a complete tit of myself (though even then I still manage frequently).

My best friend has half a front tooth because, back in our twenties, were were out drinking and he was taking a sip from his glass Becks bottle whilst I was gesticulating. I’ve been promising I’ll pay for his dental treatment for years…

One of our staff poured an entire latté down his powerbook keyboard and display. I thought for sure the laptop was gone but we got it to the repair depot fast enough so we saved the PB but he now has an interesting streak on the inside of his LCD. (If you can get it to them within 4 hours or so you’ve got a chance.) I might add a surprising number of laptop users have requested laptop stands and keyboards since this incident.


I once contrived to pour half a glass of Bacardi and Coke over my old iMac keyboard and it stopped working almost instantly. A couple of technically minded friends of mine suggested that, since there’s no electronics in a keyboard, I should submerse it in water for several hours and then dry it out… which I did… to no avail.

This is where I should tell a hilarious story about the deadline I was on and how I lost days of work to the malfunction… but I’d be lying. I just bought another keyboard.

So the question is: was the glass half full or half empty?

I have a latex “condom” over my Powerbook keyboard bought from Ebay.

Looking at it I realise I could use clingfilm just as easily. Its worth it.

Look up 43 folders and there is a thread there about washing a keyboard.
It may be a joke and I am too stupid to recognise but its still there.

Just like the car that runs on water why don’t manufacturers develop the waterproof/crumb proof/alcohol proof keyboard ?

My get up and go just buggered off…

When I used to recondition machines I had a whole routine: pop off all the keys to soak in an ammonia solution (ammonia dissolves organic matter… which is most of what gunks up a keyboard) wipe down the electronics with alcohol, dry them THOROUGHLY be evaporation in a room with a dehumidifier, etc.

At the end one couldn’t tell they’d ever been so bad off.

If you have an accidnet on a desktop, unplug right away. A lot of the eventual damage is from shorting. However, this won’t work on a laptop with batteries so well.

If you are an inveterate snacker at keyboard, the clingfilm is a great idea.

Years ago, I managed 80+ Macs in a newsroom. At least once a week, a reporter would dump a cup of coffee into a keyboard. I’d do a shut down with the mouse, replace the keyboard with a spare, and take the victim (keyboard, not reporter) over to sink and start running water through it.
Take it apart, let it airdry for a week, always worked fine, put on shelf as a new spare. :slight_smile:

Worst was the time I dropped a 20 pound audio interface on an old Mac Plus keyboard, breaking the circuit board in half on a Saturday night. I had to finish some editing, so I pulled out the soldering iron and ran about 50 little jumpers over the break. Used the keyboard for another year or so without any problems.

quietone: That 43F story is no joke.You can actually wash your keyboard in the dishwasher! (On the cold setting, air-dried over the course of a week).

I think it’s interesting that the guy who wrote the article tried it for the first time on his $100 Tactile Pro!!

What I have to do is stop eating Triscuits and crunchy food bars over my keyboard. I wish there was a way to clean the thing (without the dishwasher :wink: ), though the canned air I keep nearby usually does the trick.

I’ve tried the skins over the keys and just don’t like using them. So it’s either stop eating at the keyboard (likely - until I forget), or the canned air + “turn it upside down and shake-it” combo.

For some reason I don’t eat over the laptop keyboard, so it’s not an issue there. Maybe the trick would be to take up writing more on the laptop again.

So far, I haven’t spilled any liquids on it (:::knock on wood:::), but as long as they don’t have sugar in them (and they don’t), I should be fine with a mop up, quick rinse, and dry.

Fugitive raspberry preserves from a PBJ. More than once, I have to confess…

A long long time ago (in a galaxy far far away) I spotted tiny black flies coming out of my keyboard.

They had enough food down there to breed and grow. I was disgusted. I sprayed with insect killer and swopped the keyboard for my wife’s.

If they breed they can mutate. If they mutate…

Serious stuff guys.


Wow. The search for Husband of the Year is over…


I am glad someone appreciates my qualities.


I just hope the wife didn’t swop you!

She probably has!

“They had enough food down there to breed and grow. I was disgusted. I sprayed with insect killer and swopped the keyboard for my wife’s.”

This sounds like my keyboard - and the trouble is that it’s white with a see-through base. And what you can see through it IS disgusting. There are toast crumbs, bread crumbs, muffin crumbs, crumpet crumbs (are you seeing a pattern here??).

Most recently I spilt water on it, and now it randomly gives you a free b with every space.

And so I am using an old black one from a previous imac. Whil eI can’t see through it, I can certainly feel the sticky keys as they bounce back slower than a heavily dampened electric piano.

Just tell her that her keyboard is buggy