Cleaning the gunk from your keyboard

July 25, 2011

I’m on a cleaning theme! Last week I gave you a quick and easy method of cleaning your computer mouse’s feet; today, it’s getting the gunk out from between the keys on your keyboard.

Sure, you can turn your keyboard upside down and give it a bit of a pat on its backside, and a few shakes. And you’ll be amazed — and possibly horrified — at what comes out, even if you don’t eat at your desk. If you eat at your desk… well, let’s just say that studies have shown that the average office keyboard has more bacteria and nasties lurking in it than a toilet seat!

You can use compressed air in a can to spray out other bits of gunk, or a mini vacuum cleaner to suck out other particles. If you’re really keen, you can take off the keys and get in behind them that way. But there’s no need to be so drastic!

Instead, I highly recommend something I purchased for a completely different purpose: bendable microfiber applicator brushes!

Tooltron microfiber applicator brushes

Tooltron microfiber applicator brushes — ideal for getting into hard to reach places

I bought mine for cleaning out fluff and lint in the very tight and awkward spaces around a bobbin case of a sewing machine. But I soon realized that they were excellent for getting in between your computer keyboard keys and would pick up hair etc. that the other methods won’t get out easily. I’ve even used them to pick up dust bunnies inside the heat sink and fans inside my computer that I couldn’t get out any other way. And they can even get into the grooves in your remote control too.

My understanding is that these handy — and very cheap — little (about 3 inches long) tools were developed for hobbyists, such a model makers. But quilters have got on to them and you may well find them for sale in you neighborhood craft, quilting, fabric or sewing machine store.

Alternatively, you can buy them online for between US$3.50 and US$5.00 — for 25 brushes!

Those I have are manufactured by Tooltron, and are available for sale directly from the manufacturer (http://www.tooltron.com/products/Micro-Applicator-Brush.html) or you can get them via my Amazon Store: http://astore.amazon.com/cybertconsul-20/detail/B004KYYOH2.

I’m a very happy user of these incredibly versatile little brushes.

And for cleaning the accumulated oil from your fingers off the keys, try an orange oil of some sort. Others recommend isopropyl alcohol, but I don’t have any of that. My PlanetArk Orange Power sticky spot and goo dissolver on a Q-tip (cotton bud) worked a treat. After lightly rubbing the end of the Q-tip on the keys, wipe off with a dry soft tissue. My keyboard keys look as good as new!


  1. Hi Rhonda – I’ve tried to buy these from both sites and each time i get told they can’t ship it to me. I’m using my street address not a PO box so am not sure why. I’ve not had this trouble before. Have you struck this at all?
    Cheers, Jane

  2. Hi Jane

    I think you’ve hit the dreaded ‘can’t sell to someone who has an Australian credit card number or address’ problem.

    I got mine from the US via a friend and also when I was in the US last year. I got them from this store: http://www.quiltinaday.com/shoponline/notions_display.asp?i=2050 (who now have them on sale for about $2.50). I think they ship to non US addresses, though I’ve never bought direct from them.

    If you have a friend in the US, get them to buy them and get them shipped to their place, then send them on to you — I think it was less than $1 for my friend to ship them to me, but you’ll pay much more than that if you buy them direct from the US stores (e.g. that link I’ve just given you has $7 as the MINIMUM postage amount to Australia for these! Which is just ridiculous on a $2.50 purchase).

    You can also use certain services that buy with a US credit card and get the goods shipped to a US address and them forward them to you. Again, the postage and the fee for using those services may be very high in proportion to the cost of the goods! See: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2008/11/08/live-in-australia-want-to-buy-goods-from-us-websites/ (I haven’t used any of these sites as I have friends and family in the US who I prevail upon in such circumstances.)


  3. […] cleaned the dust using an old artist’s paintbrush and a Tooltron Micro Applicator Brush, both of which I had wiped on a slightly damp cloth so that the very fine dust wouldn’t […]

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