Cleaning Spilled Water Off Your Mechanical Keyboard

November 3, 2023

You're in the zone, typing away on your favorite mechanical keyboard, and then it happens! A sudden, unexpected water spill threatens to turn your beloved tech companion into a soggy mess. It's a scenario that's sent many a tech enthusiast into a panic.

 But fear not! We'll show you how to rescue your mechanical keyboard from water spills. From quick reflexes to preventive measures, we've got you covered.

Whether you're dealing with a keyboard in distress or simply want to armor up against potential mishaps, let's explore the tips and tricks to keep your mechanical keyboard safe, sound, and typing like a champ.

Why Is a Clean Keyboard Important

Keeping your keyboard clean isn't just about tidiness. It's really about having a more enjoyable and trouble-free time with your tech gear. Plus, it keeps the germs at bay and makes your workspace look spiffy!

  1. Better typing feels: A clean keyboard makes typing smoother and more enjoyable. No one likes crumbs and gunk getting in the way of their keypresses, right?
  2. Prolongs keyboard life: If you want your keyboard to last, keep it clean. Dust and grime can sneak into its inner workings and cause trouble down the line.
  3. Stay healthy: Keyboards are like germ hangout spots. Cleaning keeps the nasties at bay, reducing the chance of getting sick and spreading the love.
  4. Work and play: A tidy keyboard makes your workspace look more professional and helps you stay focused on your tasks. No distractions from sticky keys or unsightly grime.
  5. No sticky surprises: Spilled your coffee on the keyboard again? Cleaning it up can prevent those keys from turning into a gluey mess.
  6. Looks matter: Clean keyboards look snazzier. It's all about that polished, professional appearance for your tech setup.
  7. Resale readiness: If you ever want to sell or trade your keyboard, a clean one holds its value better. Buyers prefer well-maintained gear.
  8. Quick fixes: When troubleshooting keyboard issues, a clean slate is a great starting point. No need to wonder if crumbs are causing the problem.
  9. Allergy-friendly: Cleaning your keyboard reduces allergens, which is a win for anyone with allergies or sensitivities.

How Does Water Damage Your Keyboard

Water, despite being seemingly harmless, can wreak havoc on your mechanical keyboard if not handled promptly and properly. It can cause electrical issues, corrosion, and sticky keys, potentially leading to costly repairs or replacements. If there's water on your keyboard, it will lead to numerous problems.

  1. Short circuits, the party crashers: So, when water gate-crashes your keyboard, it messes with the electrical connections inside. Think of it like throwing a wild party in your circuitry, and it often ends in a total blackout.
  2. Rusty troublemakers: Water, especially if it's not pure, can be a real troublemaker. It can leave behind gunk that corrodes your keyboard's insides. Like rust on a bike, it weakens stuff and makes them go wonky.
  3. Sticky keys: If you spill a drink or something on your keyboard, the keys can get all sticky or refuse to play nice. That's just the liquid residue drying up and causing mischief.
  4. Moisture meltdown: Even if it doesn't die on the spot, water can leave your keyboard damp. Moisture messes with its mojo, making keys act weird or just plain stop working.
  5. Bacterial block party: Keyboards can host their own germ shindigs, especially when they're wet. It's like a bacterial block party, and that's not good for your health.
  6. Mechanical drama: If you've got one of those cool mechanical keyboards, water can really rain on your parade. It sneaks into the mechanical switches and messes up their groove.
  7. Data dilemmas: When water crashes the party while your keyboard is connected to your computer, it can send bizarre signals and make your computer do some crazy stuff, potentially leading to data losses.
  8. Not-so-pretty marks: Water spills can also leave ugly stains or watermarks on your keyboard, making it look like it's been through a rough night.

How to Clean Water Spills Off Your Keyboard

If you find yourself dealing with a water-damaged mechanical keyboard, you'll want to take the right steps to clean and dry it properly. The key to saving your keyboard after a water spill is speed. The quicker you act and the more thorough your cleaning, the better the chances of a full recovery. Here's how to clean a mechanical keyboard step-by-step after spilling water on it.

Stuff You Need

  • Paper towels, microfiber towel, or a cloth (one of those old T-shirts can do the trick)
  • Cotton swabs or Q-tips
  • Booze, not for you, but for your keyboard – get some isopropyl alcohol (90% or higher)
  • A can of compressed air if you've got it
  • Keycap puller (in case you need to get fancy and take off the keys)

Step 1: Hustle and bustle. 
Spills happen, so when they do, hustle over to your keyboard. Unplug it from your computer or yank out the batteries (if it's wireless). The faster you move, the better the odds of a keyboard rescue.

Step 2: Take the power away.
Make sure your keyboard has no power – disconnect it from the computer or remove those batteries.

Step 3: Tilt and drip-drop.
Turn the keyboard toward the side like you're looking for lost change on the couch. Let the liquid escape. Just be gentle; you don't want to create a splashy mess.

Step 4: Blot and dab.
Grab some paper towels or that old T-shirt. Dab and blot the keyboard gently. No rubbing, please – we're not at the spa. Soak up as much liquid as you can.

Step 5: Get under the hood.
If you've got liquid trapped under the keys or things are feeling sticky, you might need to remove the keycaps. Use a keycap puller or something flat, but don't be too forceful.

Step 6: Clean those keys.
The keycaps need some love too. Wipe them down with a cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol. It helps get rid of the stickiness and gives the keys a little disinfecting spa day.

Step 7: Play detective on the PCB.
If water seeped inside the keyboard, it's time to put on your detective hat and inspect the PCB. Remove or desolder the key switches. You may need to open and disassemble the keyboard entirely to expose its electronic guts. Check for any signs of moisture, water droplets, or gunk. If you spot any, grab a lint-free cloth or a paper towel and blot it gently to soak up the wet stuff.

Step 8: Get boozy with isopropyl alcohol.
No, we're not mixing drinks, but we are getting friendly with isopropyl alcohol. Get a lint-free cloth or a cotton swab, soak it with some strong stuff (90% or higher), and give the PCB a nice, gentle rubdown. It's like a spa day for your circuit board.

Step 9: Give it some fresh air (the PCB, Not the Drama).
Let your PCB chill out and dry in the breeze for about a day or so. If you're in a hurry, bring in the big guns – that's a can of compressed air. Blow-dry your PCB like you're at the hair salon (just don't use a hairdryer; it's a no-go).

Step 10: Surface scrub.
If your keyboard's still gunky, use a cloth or cotton swabs dipped in isopropyl alcohol to give the surface a gentle scrub. Avoid letting alcohol drip into the switches – they don't like to swim.

Step 11: Chill and air dry.
Your keyboard needs some chill time. Let it air dry for at least 24 hours, maybe longer. If you're in a rush, hit it with some canned air to speed things up. Do not dry in direct sunlight.

Step 12: Reassemble and test.
If you went all-in with keycap and keyboard switch removal, carefully put those switches and keys back. Reassemble your keyboard back and reconnect it to your computer and give it a test run. Make sure all your keys are back in action.

What to Do if the Keyboard is Still Not Working

Keys are still not working? If your keyboard is still not working after cleaning it following a water spill, there are a few additional steps you can take to troubleshoot the issue. Follow the steps below.

1. Check for damage.

  • Examine your keyboard for visible signs of damage. Look for burn marks, discolored areas, or any physical damage to the circuitry.
  • Check if the key switches are functioning properly. Press each key to see if they respond. If some keys are unresponsive or produce incorrect characters, it indicates internal damage.

2. Try another device.

  • To rule out computer-related issues, connect your keyboard to another device, such as a different computer or a laptop. If it works on the other device, the problem may be with your computer's USB port or drivers.

3. Test with an external keyboard.

  • If you have access to an external USB keyboard, try connecting it to your computer. If the external or backup keyboard works, it suggests that the issue lies with your original keyboard.

4. Reset or update drivers.

  • In the case of driver-related problems, you can try updating or reinstalling the keyboard drivers on your computer. This may resolve compatibility issues.

5. Contact the manufacturer.

  • If your keyboard is under warranty or you're unsure about how to proceed, contact the manufacturer's customer support for guidance or potential repair or replacement options.

6. Consider professional repair.

  • If your keyboard is still not functioning, you might need professional repair services. A technician can assess the extent of the damage and provide a solution, which may include replacing specific components or the entire keyboard.

7. Backup and data recovery.

  • If the keyboard issue resulted in data loss or unintended changes on your computer, consider backing up and recovering any important data.

Here's the somewhat hard thing to accept: water damage can be severe and may not always be repairable. In some cases, it might be better off to buy a new keyboard rather than fix your keyboard.

How to Prevent Water Spills

They say "an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure." Now you've learned your lesson, you'll need to implement some simple but useful steps to prevent damage and future wet accidents.

1. Get yourself a keyboard raincoat.
No, we're not kidding! Invest in a spill-resistant keyboard cover. It's like a superhero cape for your keyboard, protecting it from spilled water on your keyboard.

2. Create a "no-drinks" zone.
Designate a special spot for your drinks and snacks, but make sure it's far, far away from your computer and keyboard. Keep the tech stuff dry, dude.

3. Tidy up with a desk organizer.
Get yourself a desk organizer or a cool side table. It's not just for organizing your stuff; it's also a safe haven for your snacks. No more crumbs and spills near your tech gear.

4. Lock down your drinks.
If you're rocking a beverage, go for the hardcore sealed containers and spill-proof travel mugs. Trust us; they're like the Fort Knox of spill prevention.

5. Be the quick cleanup kid.
Keep a microfiber cloth or some paper towels close by. If you ever have a mini-spill crisis, you're ready to swoop in and save the day.

6. Establish cord control.
Watch out for those sneaky cords and cables. They can trip you up or even pull over your drink. Keep 'em out of harm's way.

7. Snack break? Get ot.
If you're gonna grub down or grab a drink, consider taking a chill break away from your desk. It's like a mini-vacay for your keyboard.

8. Tuck it in at night.
When you're done for the day, give your keyboard a bedtime story and tuck it in. Use a dust cover or that trusty spill-resistant keyboard cover to keep it safe and sound.

9. Keep it clean.
Remember to give your keyboard regular TLC to keep it looking fresh and crumb-free. Nobody likes a dirty keyboard – it's like tech hygiene 101.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some signs that my mechanical keyboard has water damage?

Signs of water damage on your mechanical keyboard can be easily identified. If your keyboard starts behaving erratically, with keys becoming unresponsive or you hear unusual sounds, it's likely due to water damage. It's important to remember that electronics and water don't mix well. To prevent further damage, unplug your keyboard immediately. Taking quick action can help minimize the damage caused by water and potentially save your keyboard.

Will the warranty cover water damage on my mechanical keyboard?

Typically, warranties do not cover water damage on your mechanical keyboard. Check the fine print of your warranty to confirm this. It is recommended to keep liquids away from your keyboard to prevent unfortunate situations like water damage from occurring in the first place.

Can I use a hairdryer or any heat source to speed up the drying process of my keyboard after a spill?

Using a hairdryer or any heat source to speed up the drying process is not recommended. The heat can cause damage to the components and even warp them. It's best to be patient and allow the keyboard to dry naturally. Safety is crucial when dealing with electronics.

Can I use any other liquids other than isopropyl alcohol for cleaning my mechanical keyboard?

Using liquids other than isopropyl alcohol to clean your mechanical keyboard may be tempting, but it's not recommended. Isopropyl alcohol is the safest option because it evaporates quickly and won't harm your keyboard. On the other hand, other liquids can leave behind residue or even cause unexpected damage. It's best to stick with what has been proven to work effectively.

How often should I clean my mechanical keyboard to maintain its performance?

It is recommended to clean your mechanical keyboard every two to three months. Regular cleaning is important as it prevents the buildup of dust, ensures key responsiveness, and extends the lifespan of your keyboard. By keeping your keyboard clean, you can ensure its optimal performance and longevity. 


When it comes to water spills and your trusty mechanical keyboard, the name of the game is to stay cool and act fast. Nobody wants a soggy keyboard disaster. But hey, accidents happen, right?

Speed is your best friend. The quicker you disconnect, dry things out, and do your cleanup dance, the better your chances of a happy ending for your keyboard.

Keep those drinks at a safe distance, have that spill-resistant keyboard cover ready to roll, and always be prepared to save the day. 

Chris Greiner, a Mechanical Keyboard specialist, boasts a solid educational background with dual bachelor's degrees in Computer Science and Business Management from Lewis University. His additional certification in Mechanical Keyboard Design showcases his dedication to staying on the forefront of keyboard technology. Chris primarily writes for keyboard enthusiasts and has been featured on platforms like Jestik, solidifying his reputation as a thought leader in the mechanical keyboard community.
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