Keeping Clean - How to Make Your Mac Look And Feel Good

So you just bought that shiny new, or old, Macintosh and you're wondering how many stickers you can put on it before the sheer weight of the glue makes the case collapse. How many crumbs you can spill in the keyboard before the letter "J" refuses to move. How much dust can collect in your mouse before the little ball actually starts leaving a trail of dirt behind it when you move it.

Can the disk drive be used to open bottles? Is submerging the monitor the way to clean it? When can you plant vegetables on your mousepad?

If you think I'm not kidding, hit the back button.

The Keyboard

Most of us eat at our computer at one time or another. A bag of chips or a six course meal, it doesn't make much difference. We also drink by them. Remember that rootbeer you spilled last Monday?

There may be a reason why your keyboard is failing...and its probably not being worn out by all those long hours you put in at the office

Please, don't drink sugary liquids directly over the keyboard. Leaning over a few inches can do a world of good for your keyboard. And yes, we know, there will be some chip bad to mouth motion while you are playing that new game, but cleaning a keyboard can be done very simply.

  • A low powered hand vacuum or dustbuster can get out some of the stuff stuck between keys. Many vacuum cleaners include "keyboard cleaning" attachments. Use them.
  • When you drop something in a crack, pick it up rather than grinding it in with further typing.
  • If you must wash your keyboard, remove the key tops (DO NOT REMOVE THE SPACE BAR!) and after unplugging it, wash it with a soap and water solution. Make sure to rinse thoroughly, and give it a day to dry. Spare keyboards are always handy for situations like this.

The Mouse

Once again, a small, low powered, vacuum cleaner will do wonders. For tough sticky situations, it may be a requirement to take apart the mouse and wash it in soapy water. Dry well, and allow at least 24 hours. And, like all ADB devices (which are powered), remember to unplug before you scrub.

The mousepad being clean can also have an impact on your mouses performance, as it won't pick up so much dirt. Which brings us to...

The Mousepad

A vacuuming is a good idea for a cloth mousepad, or for one with a non-fabric surface, wiping it off is the easiest way to keep a mousepad clean.

The Monitor

A dry cloth to wipe off collected dust, possibly with some monitor cleaning fluid is a smart move. This dust can cause the image to be blurry if it builds up too much. Excessive use of liquids is not recommended when cleaning these off.

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ex-parrot's picture

I've only ever seen a few keyboards where the spacebar couldn't be put back on again after being removed (learned the hard way :().
That said, probably better safe than sorry. You can usually clean it on 3 sides when the other keys are out.

Also note that quite often the longer keys like the shifts, the enter, return, numeric +, etc... are often attached with the same/similar bar thingy as the spacebar which makes them susceptible to breaking.

ALSO note that I've seen at least one keyboard where the keys broke when you pulled them off.

ALSO ALSO note that Rat Shack etc... will sell you a "key puller" but a butter knife works just as well.

- Michael "trouble at the mill" Fincham

LTong's picture

Another note on keyboard cleaning: Don't loose track of the original key placement. There's nothing more frustrating (and embarrassing) than forgetting where all those miscellaneous keys go after you've taken every one off and given them a good cleaning.

Logan Tong

Thanks for the idea!!
Switch a bunch of the keys around for a prank!! :ebc:

g3head's picture

It would be better to switch the key mapping. It will confuse the hell out of even a touch typist, where as physical swapping can be defeated by a half decent touch typist.

The better way of doing it, and this is one I read about, would be devise a low level application that will scramble keys randomly.

I have a key that came loose from my keyboard. How do I get it back on?

BDub's picture

Which model of keyboard? For most of them, you just have to line it up properly and push until you hear it click.