One of your keyboard keys becomes stuck as you’re typing the final words of your quarterly report. Fortunately, you have a few simple options for cleaning out your keyboard. Sticky keys can be caused by dirt and debris in the keyboard, but they can also be caused by spilled drinks or other forms of stickiness. The solutions provided below address both of these issues.
Shaking Out the Keyboard
1. Remove the keyboard. Turn off your laptop if you have one.
2. Turn the keyboard on its side. You can also hold it at an angle as long as part of the keyboard is facing the floor.
3. Shake the keyboard gently. Allow the crumbs to fall to the floor or table.
4. Remove any remaining crumbs with a brush. Brush away any trash from the keyboard.
5. Check the keys once more. Check to see if they are operational.
Blowing Out the Keyboard
1. Purchase a can of compressed air. It’s available almost anywhere that sells electronics.
2. Turn off the computer. Unplug the keyboard from the computer if you have a desktop.
3. Blow gently around and under the keys with the air. Tilt the can to avoid spilling liquid.
4. Remove any debris with a brush. Brush away any blown-out dirt or food from the keyboard.
5. Try again with the keys. Check to see if the keys are stuck.
Cleaning Sticky Keys
1. Spills should be cleaned up as they occur. If you spill something on your keyboard, unplug it and clean it up.
2. If the drink dries, clean the keys with alcohol. Ensure that the keyboard is unplugged first, or your laptop will be turned off. If the spill is mostly on top of the keys, clean them with a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol.
3. Rub the tops of the keys together. Make certain they are not sticky.
4. Go around the edges with the cotton swab. Going around the edges of the key should help with sticky keys by releasing the bottom part of the key from the keyboard.
5. Check to see if your keys have become stuck. Check your keys to see if they are better after the alcohol has dried.
Removing Keys to Clean the Keypad
1. Gently pry up the stuck key. To get under the key, use a screwdriver or other flat instrument and gently pull up on one of the edges. You could also use your fingernail.
- When using a laptop (PC or Mac), the key is held in place by a flimsy plastic clip that also serves as the spring. Because the keys are attached in slightly different ways on each type of keyboard, removing them will differ.  Consult your manual if you’re not sure if or how your laptop keys come off.
- Prying at the keys on mechanical keyboards should not be done. Most keyboards come with a key puller that allows you to remove individual key caps from the keyboard.
- Don’t remove all the keys at once, as you might forget where they all go. Don’t do more than a couple of things at once.
2. Wipe the inside of the button and the slot from which it was removed with care. Remove any crumbs or obstructions that are clogging the key or the hinges beneath. Tweezers or toothpicks can be useful.
3. Clean any sticky areas with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Make sure there isn’t too much alcohol on the swab.
4. Allow the key and keyboard to completely dry. You don’t want to leave any liquid, even rubbing alcohol, underneath the keys.
5. Replace the keys in their original locations. Press the key down gently. It should return to its original position. If you’re using a laptop, return the clip to its original position before replacing the key.
6. Examine your keys. They should be free now. If not, you may need to take it to a computer repair shop.
What do I do if my keyboard key is jammed?
Gently pry up the stuck key.
To get under the key, use a screwdriver or other flat instrument and gently pull up on one of the edges. You could also use your fingernail. When using a laptop (PC or Mac), the key is held in place by a flimsy plastic clip that also serves as the spring.
What causes keyboard keys to stick?
liquid or food spilled
If food or liquid has ever been spilled on the keyboard, the keys may stick and repeat. Spilled liquid can also short out the circuit board in the keyboard, causing keys to be repeated.