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The Great Keyboard Bath of 2007

A few months back I read Scott Machella's story, via BoingBoing's post, about cleaning a computer keyboard by putting it in the dishwasher. From the little bit I know about electronics, it rang true to me but I didn't feel compelled to actually try it. At least, not at first.

The thing about a dirty keyboard is that it's only dirty if you notice it. I'm a touch-typer, so I rarely look down. But once the aforementioned articles caused me to examine my own keyboards, I was sorry that I looked. Yuck. Clearly, I had to do something about it.

Scott wrote about how he let his keyboard dry out for 5 days, and given my own impatient nature, I thought it best to wait until I was going to be out of town before giving it a try. But I decided to go whole-hog and wash both my beloved Matias Tactile Pro Keyboard and my Apple Bluetooth Keyboard at the same time. (My Apple Bluetooth Keyboard is the original, white plastic model. Not the current slim metallic work of art.)

The Tactile Pro's USB cable can't be removed, so I wrapped it up tightly with a twist-tie. For the Apple keyboard, I removed the batteries and left the battery door cover off. I decided not to remove the keycaps on either of them, having done that in the distant past (while replacing the keyboard springs on my Atari ST) and found it to be too nerve wracking and tedious. But on the whole I followed Scott's process. The hardest part was figuring out how to turn off the drying cycle and suppress the rinse-chemical additive on my dishwasher.

After the washing was over, I shook out as much water as I could, then propped-up the keyboards so they'd drain. (See the photo. The other item pictured is an extension cord that I also washed; it was impulse add-on.) Both keyboards dripped like crazy for a long time, but by the next morning there was only a slight fog of moisture visible inside the clear parts of the Apple keyboard. I resisted all temptation to plug them in, and then left town for 7 days.

Upon my return, both keyboards were completely dry, of course. They were also sparkling-clean and—the moment you're waiting for—functioned perfectly. Hurray! A time-efficient and effective path to cleanliness. What a great feeling. Hey, this mouse looks a little dirty too…

About gordonmeyer

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Gordon Meyer is a Chicago-based author of dozens of software manuals, an expert in "do it yourself" home automation (he wrote Smart Home Hacks for O'Reilly Media), and an experienced public speaker. His interests include conjuring, sociology, and humanizing technology.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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