How to Clean Your Keyboard: DON’T Use the Dishwasher!

How to Clean Your Keyboard: DON'T use the Dishwasher! by Das Keyboard
Photo from banger1977 via photopin cc

When your computer keyboard is starting to get some sticky buildup, or a few of the keys are squeaking every time you press them, it’s time for a good cleaning.

Regular cleaning and maintenance of your keyboard helps ensure you’ll be able to use it longer. This is especially important if you own a mechanical keyboard, because dirt and grime can interfere with all the moving pieces that make the keyboard so awesome to use.

While most of you are familiar with using canned air and disinfectant wipes to get your keyboard in tip-top shape, there’s another cleaning method some computer users advocate: the dishwasher.

Really? The dishwasher? Yes, some people throw their keyboard inside and let the larger machine do its thing.

But is this really the best thing for your mechanical keyboard? Let’s look at the facts.


Some Keyboards CAN Survive the Dishwasher

If you search the internet for stories about computer users who washed their keyboards in the dishwasher, you’ll find that it does work for some of them.

For example, this author on NPR tried cleaning his keyboard several years ago after reading about another user’s success. He said even though he chose to wait a week for it to dry, it was “absolutely spotless.”

Additionally, there are keyboards that are waterproof, if you really want to take this cleaning route but don’t want to risk ruining a keyboard. A Florida called Seal Shield makes dishwasher-safe keyboards you could consider purchasing for your everyday use, and save your mechanical keyboard for specific purposes like long typing or gaming stints.


But Using the Dishwasher Isn’t the Way to Go

When you’re curious about how to clean your keyboard, and you do own a mechanical one, you should avoid the dishwasher method at all costs.

We already mentioned some of the drawbacks to dishwasher cleaning in our Mechanical Keyboard Guide, like how exposing circuits and other electrical parts to water could render the entire thing useless. Suddenly, you’d be looking at replacing that $100+ mechanical keyboard.

In addition, using the dishwasher to clean your keyboard takes a toll on your stress and productivity. If you’ve never tried to clean with the dishwasher before, you have no idea if the keyboard will come out all right or if any sort of hard water deposits will prevent it from working. That’s a lot of added pressure on your already-busy plate.

And considering it could take several days for your keyboard to dry thoroughly (like the NPR author’s did), you’d have to find a temporary solution or replacement keyboard to use during the time your primary one is out of commission.


Your Best Bet for Keyboard Cleaning

Sticking to the old-fashioned canned air,  disinfectant wipes, and even small amounts of alcohol is the safest way to get your mechanical keyboard clean. You won’t have to worry about the thing coming out broken and dysfunctional (unless you’re really harsh during your cleaning process).


Remember to check out our cleaning section in the Mechanical Keyboard Guide for step-by-step instructions. They’ll take a bit more time than a dishwasher, but you’ll get longer-lasting, safer results. 

Do you think you’d ever try cleaning a keyboard (mechanical or otherwise) in a dishwasher? Tell us why or why not in the comments!


  1. Very informative post. I use CleanTex Keyboard Swabs (CT815). It cleans keyboard fast and easy. We only have to do is that just open and wipe.

  2. Works fine, with a old dell keyboard, is just finished, but I also dry it in the oven on 60c to be sure It is dry inside.

  3. Im going to sink mine in the old pond.

  4. When your keyboard gets gunky and the keys stick to the point you’re about to throw it away, yes absolutely use the dishwasher. It MIGHT kill your keyboard if you do – the keyboard you’re going to throw away anyhow…

    You only do it when your keyboard has become awful to use anyhow. I do this all the time, and about 25% of the time the keyboard doesn’t survive it. No big deal.

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