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Hardware

A Keyboard Vacuum that Sucks? 48

ewhac writes "Recently, on a whim, I bought one of those tiny little battery-powered vacuums, pitched as effective in cleaning the schmutz out of your keyboard. After trying it out, I found out that it sucks. Or rather, it doesn't suck. Er... It fails to remove the aforementioned schmutz. This came as little surprise to me, since there's obviously an upper limit to the volume of air you can move with a pair of AA batteries. But I suddenly became curious as to whether an effective "keyboard vac" exists at all. So I thought I'd ask here: Has anyone encountered an effective, small hand-held vacuum that doesn't suck? ...er, does suck? Sucks well? Whatever..."
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A Keyboard Vacuum that Sucks?

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  • Can't you use a regular vacuum cleaner? All the computers I use are in locations where vacuum cleaners are also found.
  • Back when I worked for my HS as a computer tech, we had this vacuum cleaner that had bi-directional air feeds, and also a nozzle addon that had the perfect diameter for cleaning keyboards. I forget the name of it, but it was about 1.5' tall x 7" diameter (shaped like a cylinder) and could clean a KB w/o too much problems. However, for those deep-seated pubes and coke/coffee stains, your gonna have to get a little nasty and start taking buttons off.
  • This is both environmentally sound, economical and low tech. Most of you have used these. They are filled with compressed air. However once they are empty you can recycle them, you will need to flush out the last of the old air by heating them up. Just keep the release button held down has you heat them, you create a vacuum inside as they cool. Just pop them in the oven at 350 centigrade. Remember to hold down the button with your finger.

    • keep the release button held down has you heat them ...just pop them in the oven at 350 centigrade... hold down the button with your finger

      You bastard ... I have now lost the use of my right hand and arm and am now scarred for life.
  • I just wash my keyboard every month or so - unscrew it (or unclip, depending on the case), remove electronics and membrane, place in bath tub or shower cubical, switch water supply to hot and leave for a few minutes. Then shake it about a bit whilst wrapped in a towel, and reassemble. It's worked for me for the last 4 years or so...
    • Two easy steps without taking it apart: 1) Compressed air for the hair and fingernail clippings (what is that stuff?) under the keys. 2) Glass cleaner and a towel for getting the grime off the surface.
  • You can buy the Kirby G6 for $900 if you force the dealers down in price. Then get the small sucking attachment. The kirby is a heavy beast but it has a hand held attachment... I would almost be afraid of it sucking the keys out of a keyboard. Seriously... The sucker really sucks!
    • I can vouch for this. I have a Kirby G6. The little attachment can be used to suck as well as blow. It's designed to be used (when blowing) to inflate, er, well, inflatables (kiddy pools, inflatable kids' furniture, "plastic pals who are fun to be with"®), etc..

      ® A registered trademark of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation. ;->

  • I don't know about the newer USB keyboards but I wouldn't think they are any different. With standard AT and PS/2 keyboards you can wrap the cord around them (tie it up so it doesn't fall into the spinner.) and send them through the dishwasher. Just make sure they are 100000% dry before using them again. I usually sling mine around for a few minutes and then sit mine near a window in the sun or put a fan on it for a day.
    • After attempting to cool my Athlon puter with mineral oil (I used baby oil and the whole thing smelled nice but didn't get cool nuff) I had all kinds of terrible problems due to a thin film inside all the connectors on the mobo. I couldn't for the life of me get them all cleaned by hand so as a last resort popped out the cmos battery and ran the sucker through the dishwasher with a non-abrasive detergent. Once I got 'er all dry everything ran great!!

      as to cruft in my keyboard, I have a nice old clicket-y IBM with the pop-off key covers (missing the darn left ctrl keycap) and one 'o em $200 3M vacuum cleaners with the fancy schmancy filters does it just fine.
      *
      • You are kidding, right?

        Man, you sound like my roommate...running his Athlon at 70 degC because he's too lazy to buy a decent heatsink.
        • Folks,
          LOTS of electronics are run through a dishwasher, only the call them "Circuit Board Cleaners" - My old boss refused to pay the money for a "Circut Board Cleaner" when he saw what it was - he went out and bought a Kitchenaid. Don't laugh, the USAF said "Good Enough"

          We used to run all our PWBs through there, right after the vapor degreaser

          On top of that, back when, I used to talk with a guy who worked for a keyboard Mfg - he said that they ran them through a dishwasher
    • I have even done this to fix keyboards that have had coffee spilled in them, with reasonable success. Two warnings though: 1) (This should be obvious) Don't use detergent. 2) Do not attempt this with one of the old-school IBM keyboards with the removable key covers, or you'll end up picking keys out of the dishwasher forever.
  • The place where I bought my vacuum (specialty vacuum store, small business) has a bunch of accessories, including extra-small brushes etc. that are great for keyboards, getting dust bunnies out from between the motherboard and the back of the case, etc.
  • by adolf ( 21054 ) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Saturday March 23, 2002 @08:34PM (#3214515) Journal
    3M has a vacuum, as displayed on this page [mouser.com] from the Mouser Electronics [mouser.com] catalog [mouser.com].

    Costs a couple hundred bucks. 1 HP motor, has a filter that's supposed to be able to trap toner, and looks like it's got all sorts of exciting, elongated attachments for your sucking pleasure.

    However, like someone else here, I suggest putting the keyboard through the dishwasher. I tend to take the electronics out of mine first and just run the plastic (keycaps, chassis) through, but there's nothing particularly bad about water and keyboards, or any other modern electronics.

    Just make sure things get dried out before the metal bits (fasteners, microswitch parts and other contacts) begin to oxidize, but even a little of that would be far from fatal.

    -
    • I suggest putting the keyboard through the dishwasher. I tend to take the electronics out of mine first and just run the plastic (keycaps, chassis) through, but there's nothing particularly bad about water and keyboards, or any other modern electronics.

      Although there isn't anything bad about water and electronics in general, make sure you don't put any dishwasher tablets/powder in - they are pretty nasty things and will probably make a mess of any electronics in the keyboard. Also you can probably take off the text of the keycaps with most brands. And remember to make sure you dry out your keyboard fully before you plug it back in - otherwise it'll probably behave a bit strange :)

  • Umm, what's wrong with the high-tech approach of turning the keyboard upside down and giving it a whack?

    If you want to get the rest of the crud out a few blasts from a £5 can of compressed air (with the kb upside down again) should do the trick. Well, either that or force the crud in further but hey, you didn't pay more than £10 for the keyboard did you?

    ManxStef

  • Just pick up the keyboard. Tilt the back towards you until the keys are facing slightly down. Smack the front edge of the keyboard against the desk a few times. Wonder where all the crap came from.

    BTW At least twice I have recovered a keyboard that had coffe spilled in to it until the keys were so sticky they would stay down on their own. It involved complete disassembly and about 40 miniature screws.

    Remove all of the keycaps and any springs under them. Take the case off the keyboard. Look on the bottom of the inside bits and find all the little screws. Take them out. Pull everything apart. Dump the plastic and metal bits in the sink and wash them. The electronics and contacts can be cleaned with water or alcohol. Alcohol works great on the conductive rubber on the plungers. After everything is completely dry (don't forget under chips, compressed air helps) put everything back together and get the keycaps on in the right places. Last and most important- Get the person who keeps spilling there coffe on teh keyboard to stop!

    Expect to spend several hours if you want to clean all of the keycaps too. So don't bother on a $15 keyboard.

    I also dissasemble, clean and re-oil dead case fans. One that was so stiff I could barely turn it by hand now runs great. This only takes about 10 minutes and seems to get another 6 months to a year from a cheap sleeve bearing fan.

  • I'd go for a vaccuum that rocks... ;-)
  • Seriously, compgeeks.com has 5$ keyboards (they're lighteweight but very useable, I actually like the action).

    If you dont wanna do that ... I usually pop the keys off with a screwdriver and soak them in vinegar or windex. Then you can clean the housing with rag+windex ...
  • Is it really nessacary to clean ones keyboard out? I mean I can understand if you spilled something in it, or say had it in a very dirty location (but if that was the case get a sealed keyboard, or one of those keyboard comdom things). Personally I have an old IBM capacitve switch (clickity clack) keyboard that I haven't cleaned ever, still works great, though some of the letters have rubbed off. About the most I have EVER done is turn it upside down and shake out the large bits. The other issue with running keyboards through the dishwasher would be corrosion, even if it is dried completely one would have to worry about dilute mineral salts (hey BOFH term), especially if you have hard water. So again I ask, why do you need to have such a clean keyboard at home?
  • I recommend getting an expensive Miele vacuum. They are made in Germany and they are a nice piece of vacuuming technology. It has enough suction to remove all the crap in my keyboard without removing the keys or anything. I also use it to clean out my tower. It can reduce my motherboard temperature by a few degrees Celsius.

    I do not work for Miele or its affiliates

  • While working for the hardware support office at a university i was taught how to clean keyboards. Most of the time when a keyboard is "broken" it just needs to be cleaned. Here's what you do:

    Remove the casing on the keyboard. You'll probably need a Phillips type screwdriver for this. If the case is not easily removed, i don't know. You're probably SOL in that case (no pun intended). Once the case is removed, soak the keyboard in hot water for a few minutes. Swish it around a little until all visible gunk has gotten off. If pop or coffee was spilled in the keyboard, you might need to scrub it a bit. I'd suggest just using fingers to scrub it and do so gently so as not to scrape the electrical traces. Take the keyboard outside and while holding it tightly, swing it around violently to shake all the water out. If anyone happens to see you do this, you'll probably get some funny looks but they won't come too close. ;) Once water has been shaken off, let the keyboard air dry before putting it back together. We always set it on top of the intake vent for the building's ventilation system, which dried out the keyboards in a couple hours. If you don't have such a thing, let them sit on a counter for a day and you should be fine. Put the case back on the keyboard and test all the keys.

    If a key doesn't work, here's what you do to fix it (if it uses actual push-button switches and not the mushy pads like the cheaper keyboards do--i don't know what to do for those). Carefully pull the key off the switch. If you don't have a tool to do this, gently prying at it with a flat blade screwdriver usually works. Squirt a very small amount of WD-40 into the keyswitch. Press the key many times to work the lubricant in, and then test it. If the switch is still broken, try to find a keyboard with similar switches and transplant a switch. I always try to keep one or two spare keyboards lying around just to steal switches from. Transplanting a switch requires soldering/desoldering ability.

  • Is there a keyboard vacuum that sucks and blows at the same time?
  • can o' air.

    it doesn't suck.
    it blows.
    but it does the trick
  • Because I heard that the day they make products that don't suck is when they start making vacuum cleaners. :-)

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