Banishing Grime and Gunk: Mastering the Art of Cleaning Your MacBook Keyboard

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Maintaining a clean MacBook keyboard is essential for ensuring its longevity, functionality, and the overall hygiene of your workspace. A dirty keyboard can harbor harmful bacteria, affect your MacBook’s performance, and even cause permanent damage. In this guide, we will cover how to clean MacBook keyboard using various techniques to cater cleaning to your specific needs.

Identifying the type of cleanliness needed

Before you start cleaning, it’s essential to determine the kind of cleaning that needs to be done, as different situations require different cleaning methods. There are three main levels of cleanliness to consider:

1. Light cleaning

Light cleaning is for when your MacBook keyboard appears generally clean but requires a dusting to get rid of any superficial debris or smudges.

2. Deep cleaning

Deep cleaning is necessary when there’s a buildup of debris under or around the keys, or when the keys are sticky and unresponsive due to spills.

3. Disinfecting

Disinfecting is needed when you want to eliminate bacteria and other germs from the surface of your keyboard to help prevent illness.

Preparing your MacBook for cleaning

Before you start cleaning your MacBook keyboard, ensure you take the following precautions:

1. Shutting down and unplugging the device

Turn off your MacBook and disconnect the power adapter to avoid potential electrical hazards and prevent damage to the internal components.

2. Removing any peripheral devices

Unplug any external devices, such as USB drives or external keyboards, to avoid damaging their connectors during cleaning.

3. Gathering necessary cleaning materials

Gather the appropriate cleaning materials based on the type of cleaning required for your MacBook keyboard.

Light cleaning techniques

1. Dusting the keyboard

a. Using a microfiber cloth

Gently wipe your keyboard with a microfiber cloth to remove dust and debris from the surface. A microfiber cloth is suitable for cleaning without causing scratches.

b. Utilizing compressed air

Use a can of compressed air to clean between your keys. Hold the can at an angle and use short bursts of air to dislodge any debris.

2. Wiping the surface

a. Using a damp cloth with water

Lightly dampen a cloth with distilled water and gently wipe the surface of your keyboard. Avoid using an overly wet cloth, as excess moisture can damage your MacBook.

b. Choosing the right cleaning solutions

If plain water does not suffice, you may use a mild cleaning solution specifically designed for electronics. Avoid using alcohol-based cleaners, as they can damage the keyboard’s coating and screen.

Deep cleaning for stubborn debris and sticky keys

1. Removing keycaps

a. Using proper tools

If you need to remove the keycaps for a deep cleaning, it’s crucial to use the appropriate tools and techniques to avoid damaging your keyboard. You can use a plastic keycap puller or a thin plastic card to gently pry the keycaps off.

b. Organizing the keycaps to avoid confusion

As you remove the keycaps, take note of their positions, or lay them out in the same configuration as your keyboard. This will help you reattach them correctly later.

2. Cleaning underneath the keys

a. Using a damp cloth or cotton swab

To clean under the removed keycaps, use a lightly dampened cloth or cotton swab to clean the surface and around the key mechanisms. Do not use excessive moisture to avoid damaging the keyboard.

b. Options for cleaning solutions

If necessary, you can use a mild cleaning solution specifically designed for electronics to remove stubborn debris.

3. Reattaching keycaps

a. Ensuring dryness before reattachment

Ensure that both the keycaps and the keyboard surface are completely dry before reattaching the keycaps.

b. Following the correct order

Use the organization method you created earlier to correctly reattach the keycaps to their corresponding locations.

Disinfecting your MacBook keyboard

1. Choosing the appropriate disinfectant

Pick a disinfectant specifically designed for electronics or a diluted alcohol solution (70% isopropyl alcohol).

2. Applying the disinfectant safely

a. Avoiding overly saturated cloths or swabs

Lightly dampen a cloth or cotton swab with the disinfectant solution, ensuring it is not overly saturated to prevent damage.

b. Properly applying the disinfectant to the keys and surface

Gently wipe the surface of your keyboard, paying attention to each key, to ensure thorough disinfection.

3. Allowing time for the disinfectant to work and air dry

Allow the disinfectant to air dry on your keyboard, giving it ample time to kill any remaining bacteria and germs.

Regular maintenance and preventative measures

1. Scheduling routine cleanings

Establish a regular cleaning schedule for your MacBook keyboard to maintain hygiene and performance.

2. Utilizing keyboard covers

Consider investing in a keyboard cover to protect your MacBook keyboard from spills, debris, and germs.

3. Practicing good habits when using your MacBook keyboard

Develop proper hygiene habits, such as washing your hands before using your MacBook and avoiding eating or drinking while working on your device.


Keeping your MacBook keyboard clean is an essential aspect of maintaining its performance and appearance while ensuring a hygienic workspace. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can clean, maintain, and disinfect your MacBook keyboard effectively. Remember, treat your MacBook keyboard like a treasured musical instrument, and it will continue to serve you well for years to come.


1. Can I use Clorox wipes to clean my MacBook keyboard?

Yes, as long as they are not overly saturated. Ensure that any moisture is minimal, and avoid letting excess liquid seep into the keyboard.

2. How often should I clean my MacBook keyboard?

It’s recommended to perform a light cleaning at least once a month and a deep cleaning every 6 months or as needed based on your usage.

3. Can I remove keycaps from a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro?

Yes, but it’s recommended to use a specific keycap puller tool and exercise caution to avoid damage.

4. What should I avoid using when cleaning my MacBook keyboard?

Avoid using harsh chemicals, abrasive materials, and excessive moisture when cleaning your MacBook keyboard.

5. Can using a dirty keyboard cause health issues?

Yes, a dirty keyboard can harbor harmful bacteria and germs, potentially causing illness, especially during cold and flu seasons.

6. What is a safe cleaning solution to use on my MacBook keyboard?

Use a mild cleaning solution specifically designed for electronics, or use a diluted 70% isopropyl alcohol solution.

7. Can I use a hairdryer or a vacuum cleaner to remove debris from my MacBook keyboard?

A hairdryer may cause damage due to excessive heat. A vacuum cleaner can be used if it has a very low suction setting to prevent damage to the keys. Using compressed air is generally safer and more effective.