A dirty keyboard isn’t pretty to look at. Dirt and debris can also make it hard to type. And these days, we’re all concerned about germs. Let’s go over the basic steps to clean your keyboard.

Power It Down

We don’t want to accidentally delete the only copy of your novel while cleaning your keyboard, so let’s start by turning it off. Unplug a wired keyboard or take the batteries out of a wireless one. If you’re cleaning a laptop keyboard, turn off your computer.

Shake It Out

The quickest way to get debris out of your keyboard is to turn it upside down and give it a couple of gentle taps. Remember, I said to be gentle. Don’t knock off your keys. How much debris appears on your desk probably depends on whether you have pets or often eat lunch at your desk.

The same is true of laptops. Be careful, especially if your laptop is heavy, you don’t want to drop it. I tip my Mac Airbook over, give it a couple of taps and then clean all the crumbs off the screen.

You can also make a little square out of tape and move it between the keys to pick up debris. Just make sure to keep the sticky side on the outside.

Blow It Out

When it comes to keeping electronics clean, there is no better friend than a can of air. They come with nice, long skinny tubes that let you easily direct a good blast of air into the tiniest nooks and crannies.

Pick up a can at office supply stores, big box stores, or order online for less than $10.

Suck It Up

A battery-powered vacuum designed for cleaning keyboards is a great options for removing debris. I’d caution against using a brush attachment on a full-power vacuum. A full-sized electric vacuum can give off static-electricity. Plus, you don’t want to accidentally suck up your keys.

Wipe If Off

Lightly dampen a microfiber cloth with rubbing alcohol (lightly, never get a keyboard wet) or use a disinfectant wipe to get anything sticky off the keys. You could also carefully dampen a cotton swab and clean the sides of the keys.

Make sure any dampness is completely dry before turning your keyboard on again.