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If you’re an active computer user, you will inevitably find your keyboard keys wearing out after some time. This is entirely normal and happens to everyone, so don’t panic. In this article, you’ll find many useful tips for taking care of your keyboard and preventing the keys from fading, and if you’re already struggling with worn-out keys, don’t worry: We’ve got time-tested fixes for that, too.
Prevention is better than cure, they say, so if you want to prolong the life of your keyboard, it’s best to protect it from the start. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your keyboard keys stay as good as new even if you actively type every day.
One of the basic (yet most efficient) ways to prevent your keyboard keys from fading is to keep them clean. Dust, food crumbs, sweat from your fingers, and other particles and substances gather on your keyboard as you use it.
When you type, the dirty layer is rubbed against the paint on the keys, causing it to wear out. This is the main reason why letters fade, so, in order to prevent that, you should keep the keyboard clean at all times, especially if you use it a lot.
You should clean your keyboard at least once a month. Every two weeks will be ideal if you have enough time for it. If you don’t know how to properly clean your keyboard, we will elaborate on it more later on in the article.
Scotch (basically, clear cellophane tape) is an easy DIY solution that can protect your keyboard keys from fading. It is best, however, to reapply it from time to time as it can start peeling off and get dirty on the corners, which doesn’t look neat or pleasing.
Here’s how you can protect the keyboard with scotch tape:
1. Turn your laptop off or remove the keyboard from your computer so you can comfortably work with it.
2. Clean the keyboard thoroughly, so the keys don’t have dust or sweat on them and are completely dry. This is important for ensuring your tape sticks better.
3. Measure your keys to get an idea of how much tape you need to cut for each of them.
4. Cut a piece of tape a little smaller than the size of your key so that no extras will be left once you stick the tape. Hanging edges will gather dirt and dust, causing the tape to peel off eventually, and they will make it much less comfortable to work with your keyboard.
5. Apply the piece of tape to a key. Do your best to avoid touching the sticky side or letting any particles get attached to it. If this happens, your tape won’t stick as well as it should, so if any dirt ends up on it after all, better use another clear piece.
6. Press your tape into the key and ensure no air bubbles are caught.
7. Repeat for each of the keys and enjoy the results!
Using a keyboard cover, sometimes also called a keyboard protector, is one of the most effective ways to protect your keys from fading. What’s more, it can be a precaution against crumbles, spilled liquids, and other possible accidents that could damage your keyboard.
Keyboard covers are typically made of silicone. This is a thick, typically clear material that allows you to see the keyboard keys and use them without direct contact. This, along with protection from dirt, lowers the chances of letters on your keys wearing out.
Why isn’t everyone already using them? Well, despite all the benefits, keyboard covers have substantial downsides that make many people oppose them. Mainly, some people find it difficult and less convenient to type with a silicone protector on.
The keys may be less responsive, so you have to get used to hitting them with more power, which is tiresome. After all, many of us are people of habit, and when it comes to typing, unnecessary difficulties can be especially annoying.
So, if difficulties with typing make you doubt whether a keyboard cover is worth it, try giving this one a shot.
This is an upgraded variation of the already mentioned scotch tape method. If you want a more aesthetically pleasing solution, you can purchase keyboard stickers and apply them to your keys instead of regular clear tape.
Apart from preventing your keys from fading, keyboard stickers can also add to the looks of your laptop or computer keyboard. Keyboard stickers come in a variety of colors and designs, allowing you to choose something to your preference and customize your device. If you’re a fan of the look, we highly recommend giving this solution a try!
Besides, keyboard stickers can offer other additional solutions. For instance, if you suffer from poor eyesight, you can get stickers with bigger letters on contrasting backgrounds to help you make typing easier.
However, keyboard stickers have a number of disadvantages. First of all, they can fade, too, so you will have to replace them inevitably. They can also peel off, which is quite irritating. Granted, they are usually not expensive, so frequent replacements won’t cost you much.
However, what do you do if the letters are already fading? Gladly, there are ways to fix that, too. Most solutions are easy to implement and also allow you to bring some creativity to the process, making it more fun.
One of the easiest solutions is to use some paint on the fading letters. You can also go with acrylic paint markers, which are easier to control and allow you to write freely.
This method comes with several disadvantages. Firstly, it’s not very aesthetically pleasing, as the paint will likely stand out from the original letters. However, if you’re good with a brush, you can make it almost unnoticeable.
You can always tap into your creativity and have fun creating the design of your choice. However, if that’s not your thing, carefully adding the missing parts of fading letters will also do.
Another issue is that the paint can eventually crack up and come off, wasting all your effort. In order to prevent that, you need to seal the paint using clear varnish or similar.
On the other hand, the sealing will likely give visible gloss to the painted keys, making them stand out even more.
To summarize: this fix is great if you have minor adjustments to make or are willing to commit to an entire keyboard renovation.
We’ve mentioned this fix earlier with all of its pros and cons, so we won’t repeat myself. Note, however, that keyboard stickers are not only a good prevention method but also a quick, decorative, and easy fix for an already existing problem, so we highly recommend giving them a try.
This one is slightly more time-consuming than other options on the list but is not at all difficult to implement, especially if you already own a label printer.
If not, you may be interested in investing in one, as they can be useful for many purposes, and you can find a variety of inexpensive options available online.
If your printer allows you to adjust the design, you can easily print a sticker that will match all other keyboard keys. If not, you can create stickers for all of them or leave the ones sticking out as they are if you don’t care much.
The difference between this solution and the previous one, which suggests buying a set of stickers, is that a label printer lets you renew the stickers for free. They will eventually go bad in either case, but you won’t have to purchase a new set here.
Whenever you see that a letter starts to wear out or an old sticker needs replacement, you can simply print a new label and stick it on. It doesn’t take much time and won’t require a serious investment, but it will easily save all keyboards in your home.
We have already discussed clear keyboard covers, but did you know that there are also ones that have all the key symbols printed right on them? Investing in a product like this will not only solve the problem of missing letters but also protect your keyboard from all sorts of accidents.
Granted, this also means that they come in all sorts of designs, and you will have to look for the one that suits you. However, this can also be a fun experience of customizing your computer.
Everything we mentioned about possible inconveniences while using keyboard protectors still applies. So, if you manage to find options that are both made of thinner silicone and compatible with your keyboard, give the preference to them.
Cleaning your keyboard regularly is essential if you want it to last. As promised, we provide recommendations on how to do it properly without dealing with any damage. Even if you’ve done it before, you may find some useful tips in this short guide.
Power off your laptop or disconnect the keyboard from the computer. This will ensure you won’t break anything or do any unnecessary typing along the way.
It is also best to remove the keys before getting to the actual cleaning. The particles clump up in areas you can’t reach, causing your keys to malfunction. It can be especially irritating if big crumbles get stuck under a key, and the only way to get them out is to get to the insides.
Some people are intimidated by the idea, as breaking your keyboard is the last thing you want to do. However, it is not at all difficult to remove a key without damaging anything. Here’s how:
- Get a flat tool to help you lift the key. The first thing that comes to mind is a guitar pick, but you can go with anything thin enough to do this. There are also tools designed specifically for this purpose that you can buy online for future use.
- Slide the tool of your choice under the key. Make sure you can get it far enough to have a good grip.
- Gently pull the tool down to lift the key. Don’t be hard on it: the reason it is difficult to break a key is they are designed to come off easily. If a careful push doesn’t do it, try another angle or get a better tool.
And just like that, all your keys can be stripped down. Make sure to take a picture of the keyboard before you remove the keys so you can easily put them back afterward. You don’t want to mix all the keys up.
You can save yourself some effort if you start by flipping your keyboard upside down and gently shaking it. This will make most of the crumbles and some of the dust fall out. If all the keys are removed, this simple step will do most of the job for you. However, be sure not to be too aggressive so as to not damage the equipment.
With everything not stuck in your keyboard already out of it, you can proceed to clean the areas under and around the keys.
Clumped-up pieces of dust and dirt can be scraped out with a toothpick, and the stains can be removed with alcohol wipes or rubbing alcohol applied to a cotton pad.
If you go with the latter, make sure not to use too much liquid, as any accidental drops can cause severe damage. You can use a q-tip to get more control and carefully remove the stains from hard-to-reach areas, especially if you didn’t manage or chose not to remove the keys.
Once all obvious problems are solved, and your keyboard is clean and dry, it is time to remove the dust.
If you have a big chunky brush (think of a foundation make-up brush or similar), you can use it to go over the keyboard as if you are sweeping the floors. It would get most of the dust out and probably swoop up some particles from under the keys if they were not removed.
However, the best solution would be to get a compressed air duster. It is an amazing product explicitly designed for dusting electronic devices without any liquids involved and is helpful for so many things. If you don’t have one yet, definitely consider trying it out.
Compressed air, also called canned air, has a long thin straw that makes it easy to control the blowing and allows you to get the debris from under your keys even if they aren’t removable.
However, unlike a vacuum cleaner, it will blow the dust in every direction instead of safely trapping it inside. If you haven’t cleaned your keyboard for a significant time period, you will be surprised at the mess this can turn into. Do it in a space that will be easy to clean afterward.
Another option is using a cleaning gel. It is a very inexpensive but highly effective product that will be your life-saver if you have non-removable keys. This slimy thing can be rolled over the surface of your keyboard to gather all the dust. You can use it until it turns dark in color and then dispose of it.
Lastly, there is an easy and fast method that many people love. Get clear tape and apply it to your keys, then rip it off (but gently), and all the dust will end up on its sticky side. Easy as that, your keyboard can be cleaned in about a minute!
Finally, you need to clean the keys themselves. As we mentioned before, keeping your keys clean significantly reduces the chances of the letters wearing off quickly.
If your keycaps are removable, you have the advantage of not caring about liquids, which is why it will be much easier to do a thorough cleaning.
The most straightforward method is to wash each key in soapy water. However, if you haven’t washed them in a long time (or ever), it is better to wipe them with rubbing alcohol in order to remove all the grease.
Once all keycaps are cleaned, let them dry or wipe them with a towel or napkin. Only put them back into the keyboard when there is no liquid left.
What should you do if your keys can’t be removed? There are some great methods to try in that scenario as well.
The first one is to apply rubbing alcohol to a q-tip and use it to gently clean each of the keys. Alcohol wipes will also do, but you need to use them carefully. It is the most effective way to remove sweat and oil from the keys, along with the debris that gathered on them over time.
The best way to prevent your keyboard keys from fading is to clean them regularly. You can use stickers, a keyboard cover or apply clear tape for more protection.