Sitting here in Dallas, the temperature pushing over the 100-degree mark for what seems like the umpteenth day in a row, I remember back to the days of Spring (which lasts about 4 weeks in Dallas), when the temperatures were cool and new beginning were imaginable.  It’s also the time when people start to clean all that stuff that got dirty over the past 9 months.   Although Spring is long past,  there’s no reason why we can’t give a good cleaning to our computer equipment.  So over the next few weeks, I’ll give some tips on how I clean my computer and related gadgets.  This week, we’ll talk about your keyboard and mouse.

You’ve read the stories – about how your computer keyboard probably holds more germs than a toilet seat, right?  Regardless of whether that’s true, it’s certainly the case that my various keyboards are full of junk – dust, food crumbs, dog hair, and other assorted detritus.  Here are some ways to clean out the crap in your keyboard:

  • First, make sure you’ve disconnected it from your computer (unless you’re using a laptop, of course – but make sure you unplug it before starting to clean).
  • Then just turn it upside down, to get all the loose stuff out.
  • Next, you might want to use a can of compressed air to blow between your keys.  You can pick up a can at most stores that sell computer supplies.
  • You may also want to invest in a computer vacuum blower; these devices run from $25 for a desktop device up to over $200 for something that will clean bigger equipment.  Some of these vacuum tools come with brush nozzles, to clean out debris that might be stuck between the keys.
  • If you have some heavy-duty crud in your keyboard, you’ll next want to take a cotton swab, coat it with alcohol (not a lot!), and work them in between the keys.
  • If you want to try a quick and easy fix, check out CyberClean, a goo-like product that flows between your keys and dirt sticks to it like a magnet.  It reminds me of a toy I used to play with as a kid – but cannot for the life of me remember its name.
  • If you’re thoroughly experienced with dismantling a keyboard, you might want to remove your keys so you can thoroughly scrub under them; but it is very easy to bend or break the keys, so I don’t always recommend this.
Mice are a lot easier to clean these days, unless you’re still using a mouse with a ball inside it.  Today’s computer mouse uses optics, so if you’re using a mouse with a ball, don’t even think about cleaning it – go out and buy yourself a new optical mouse from either Logitech or Microsoft.  You still need to clean the “feet” of the optical mouse – they still pick up a lot of junk.
That’s it for this week – next week we’ll tackle your CPU.