Your keyboard is disgusting. Here’s why you should clean it with slime

Bottle of ColorCoral cleaning gel on laptop.

ColorCoral cleaning gel.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Think your keyboard is clean?

Take another look.

If you still think that it’s clean, take it into another room — or better still, a coffee shop or some other public place — and look at it under different lighting.

Unless you’ve been keeping on top of cleaning, it’s probably foul.

There’s mine, and it’s only been a few weeks since I last cleaned it.

That’s unpleasant!

There are a lot of different ways that people can clean their keyboards, but my method of choice is to use a cleaning gel (also known as “slime”).

The brand of gel I’m using here is from ColorCoral, but in my experience these gels are all pretty much the same, and I’ve not really found one to be any better or worse than any other.

ColorCoral cleaning gel

$5.59 at Amazon


Why a cleaning gel? For a number of reasons.

First, while brushes and canned compressed air can do a good job on the surface, I find that they push dirt and muck under the keys and into the keyboard.

Cleaning gel is also gentle on the keyboard, whereas I’ve seen a cloth catch on a key cap and lift it off.

Finally, it’s quick and cheap. Canned air is expensive and wasteful, and unless you have a lot of keyboards to clean, electronic dusters are prohibitively expensive (although for dealing with lots of dust, they can’t be beat).

The gel’s easy to use.

Turn off the laptop or computer (so you’re not pressing loads of keys). Then, take the gel out of the pot and give it a quick kneed.

Give the gel a quick kneed before use.

Start cleaning the keyboard by pressing the gel in and around the keys. I find a slow, rolling action works best. Remember, you’re trying to use the gel to pick up dirt and debris, not knead it into the keyboard.

Start working the gel around the keys — work slow and methodically.

Keep going until you’re happy.

It’s not perfect — I wasn’t going for that — but it’s a whole lot less filthy for very little effort.

The gel is reusable — just pop it back into the pot — and I find it lasts about six months to a year after opening.

Is it safe?

There are always people who are worried about using gel on they keyboards. I’ve been using the stuff now for well over a decade and I’ve not had a single problem. If you are worried, then you’ll need to find an alternative way, but this remains my favorite way to clean keyboards.

And cleaning gel is not just keyboards. It’s good for cleaning things like your car’s dashboard or items you might want to photograph (especially for close up macro photography).

It’s very versatile stuff!

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