Cleaning an old keyboard

Philip Belben pdb11 at
Tue Sep 24 01:30:08 CDT 2019

> > On Sep 23, 2019, at 7:24 PM, Kevin Parker via cctalk <cctalk at> wrote:
> > 
> > I resurrected an old keyboard and mouse I like. Not wishing to gross anyone
> > out but it looks like over time there was a build-up of oil etc from my
> > hands etc and over time being stored away its turned to a really almost hard
> > paste like stuff on both the mouse and keyboard.
> > 
> > I've tried number of agents to clean it off but limited success.
> Are you talking about the key caps?

(de-lurking very briefly)

The following works for me on my several IBM model M keyboards:

Take off keycaps

Tie them securely in a cotton carrier bag

put them in thewashing machine with my clothes (not on a high temperature - 30 or 40 celcius is good)

dry them

Put them back on.

I did this with two keyboards at once on one occasion, and I still haven't sorted out which keys belong to which.  (Labels printed at slightly different locations on the key)


> An adhesives specialist friend of ours has recommended WD-40 as a slow but safe solvent to take off many adhesives.  You'd want to clean it off carefully afterwards since it leaves a messy residue when it dries (WD-40 is NOT a lubricant even though some cans of the stuff claim it is).

PS I wish people wouldn't say WD40 is not a lubricant.  It is.

The problem is that it is quite a heavy grease - suitable for (say) door hinges - but when it comes out of the can it looks like a fine oil, because the solvent in which the grease is delivered is actually a penetrating oil.  So people use it in applications that need a fine oil, and find that the heavy grease doesn't work.

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