Keyboards are gross. Period. Think about it, you are constantly touching it, many people eat over it, and I am willing to bet that you have never cleaned it since unpacking it from its box. In fact, if you have a white or light colored keyboard, I would like for you to stop reading right now, and look down at your keyboard. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. Chances are you are grossed out right now, and would like to boil/scrub/powerwash/or otherwise sanitize your keyboard. Here’s a quick run through on a mild keyboard cleaning.

Before we go any further, please DO NOT stick your keyboard in the dishwasher, or submerge it in any other way, shape, form or fashion. A keyboard may seem resilient, but let me assure you that spilling enough water on a keyboard will break it.

First assemble some basic cleaning supplies: Paper towel (or microfiber cloth), compressed air, and a mild household cleaner (I like Simplegreen).

Next, remove the batteries from the keyboard if it’s wireless, or unplug it from the computer if it’s USB. If you have an old style PS/2 (round plug with pins) keyboard, you need to turn your computer off first before unplugging it.

Then turn the keyboard upside down (keys facing the ground) or tilt it on end (shown below) and use short bursts of compressed air to blow out any dirt, dust, crumbs, hair, and other nasties. You probably want to do this outside or over a trashcan. If you have never cleaned your keyboard, it might be pretty bad. Don’t use a vacuum to do this, there generally isn’t enough precise sucking power to get the grime out, and you might inadvertently suck up a key.

Finally, use a paper towel or microfiber cloth, spray some cleaner on the towel and gently, GENTLY, wipe down the keys. Be very careful not to rub too hard and snag the corner of a key, or you may pop off the key and end up having to purchase a new keyboard anyway. Also, do not spray the cleaner directly on the keyboard, always apply cleaner to the towel.

That’s pretty much it. Put the batteries back in, or plug the USB cable back into the computer and enjoy your freshly cleaned keyboard. This can also be applied to your mouse, which probably hasn’t ever been cleaned either.