Is your MacBook keyboard in need of a good, deep clean? Over time, dust, crumbs, build-up and stains can impair both the look and functionality of your keyboard. The good news? Cleaning your MacBook keyboard needn’t be a difficult process! There are however some important dos and don’ts that need to be considered.
Here, we provide you with a step-by-step guide for cleaning your MacBook Air or Pro keyboard, as well as some things that need to be avoided during the process. Let’s dive in.
How to clean a MacBook keyboard — removing dust and debris
The first step in cleaning a MacBook keyboard is getting rid of built-up dust and debris. Follow these steps:
- Switch off and unplug your Mac
Don’t skip this step — it’s vitally important to protect both you and your Mac. As you clean your keyboard, you’ll be hitting a lot of keys — switching your Mac off will ensure that nothing is broken, messed up or lost on your desktop, and unplugging your Mac from its power source will ensure that you don’t hurt yourself during the process. Be sure to also detach any accessories.
- Open the Mac and shake gently over a bin
This step will help to dislodge and remove any dust, dirt or crumbs that have found their way into the keyboard, as well as other particles that may be stuck beneath the keys. Simply turn your Mac upside down and gently shake it over the bin. Tapping all the keys repeatedly before shaking it again can also work to dislodge material that’s been sitting there since the last time it was cleaned.
Don’t be discouraged if nothing falls out of the keyboard — this step will still help to break up the accumulated dirt and gunk that you’ll deal with in the following steps, as you perform a deeper clean.
- Spray compressed air into the keyboard
Now, grab a can of compressed air, and insert its straw. Holding your Mac at a 75-degree angle, spray the compressed air into the keyboard, ensuring to keep the end of the straw around 1.5 cm away from the keyboard at all times. The 75-degree angle is important as it helps the dirt, debris and dust fall out, rather than lodging them deeper into the keyboard.
As you’re spraying, move the can from left to right, spraying down the length of the keyboard, and then up again to ensure you’ve sufficiently covered all areas. It’s important that you keep the can at its normal angle, and avoid turning it upside down while spraying. Note that you may find this step easier if you have a friend hold your Mac at the 75-degree angle while you spray.
It’s also important to note that compressed air shouldn’t be used on MacBook Pros made prior to 2016. Rather than blowing dust out, the compressed air can actually force dust deeper into the Mac.
- Rotate your Mac to the right and spray
Next, turn your Mac to the right and spray the compressed air through the keyboard in a left to right motion, going up and down the keys, similar to a zigzag pattern. Keep the keyboard at the 75-degree angle to ensure that dirt and dust continues to fall out, and make sure that the end of the straw stays around 1.5 cm from the keyboard — the compressed air is powerful enough to clean out the keys from this distance, and spraying any closer could damage the keyboard.
Rotating your Mac as described in this step helps the compressed air to thoroughly clean out all the nooks and crevices beneath the keyboard.
- Rotate your Mac to the left and repeat
Now, rotate your Mac to the left and continue spraying the compressed air in the same left-to-right, up and down motion. Rotating your Mac to the left will ensure a complete and thorough cleaning process, by enabling the compressed air to reach under all the keys at a variety of angles.
This is also an ideal time to check for any missed spots, and complete a final once-over with the compressed air, as well as giving your Mac another gentle shake over the bin to really ensure that all traces of dirt, dust and debris have been removed.
How to clean a MacBook Pro keyboard — cleaning and disinfecting
After you’ve thoroughly removed all traces of dust and debris from your keyboard, next is to clean and disinfect the surface. Follow these steps:
- Dust the surface with a dry, soft lint-free cloth
Here, avoid the use of anything that may scratch your keyboard, such as paper towels or abrasive cloths. Also, avoid placing excessive pressure on the keyboard — use a light hand to dust.
- Clean the surface with disinfectant wipes
Cleaning your keyboard surface with non-bleach disinfectant wipes will rid it of any stains and crevice grime, as well as any unseen bacteria and germs. You may wish to use an electronics cleaner, or a solution of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water with a microfibre cloth, instead of disinfectant wipes. Just be sure not to use anything that contains bleach or hydrogen peroxide.
While cleaning the keyboard, apply mainly gentle pressure, though a little extra pressure can be applied carefully to dirtier sections such as stains and grimy corners.
- Wipe the keyboard with a damp microfibre cloth
This will not only remove any cleaning solution left on your keyboard — it will also give you a final opportunity to remove any dirty spots. It may be a good idea here to squeeze the damp cloth to rid it of excess water before using it on the keyboard — the last thing you want to do is get water into your device!
- Dry the keyboard with a dry microfibre cloth
Lastly, be sure to dry your keyboard with a lint-free microfibre cloth, to ensure it’s completely moisture-free before closing it. Take extra care to dry around the ports and between the keys, and once done take a minute to test all keys to ensure they are all in working order. Your MacBook should now look as good as new!
How to clean a MacBook Air keyboard — things to avoid
Here are a few things to avoid when cleaning your MacBook keyboard:
- Bleach cleaners, abrasive cleaners and aerosols
- Any products containing bleach or hydrogen peroxide
- Spraying liquid cleaners directly on to the keyboard
- Wiping aggressively while cleaning the keyboard
- Liquid pooling around the keyboard, or in the openings. Before starting the cleaning process, ensure you have a dry towel handy to mop up any cleaning solution spillages.
Jim’s I.T — your Apple Mac support and repair experts
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