I spilled my drink all over my keyboard! What to do when you've had a spill

Ho ho ho!

Spilling a drink over your keyboard is a very common occurrence and can spell doom for your keyboard if proper action isn't taken.

You will need:

  • a screwdriver and bit kit  (if applicable)
  • isopropyl alcohol (99%)
  • paper towel
  • cotton swabs
  • old plastic cards to help with plastic tabs (if applicable)

Here are the immediate steps to take:

  1. Unplug your keyboard
  2. Remove the keycaps gently without pressing down on the keys.
  3. Dab any liquid you can find. Avoid pressing down on the keys as you do this.
  4. Put your keycaps in a bowl with lukewarm water and dish soap. They're going to need cleaning but that was probably overdue anyway, right?

Is your keyboard hotswap? If it is, great! There is a chance you don't have to knock on our doors for help- but you will need to completely disassemble your board.

  1. Gently pull out all of the switches with a switch puller. Set aside the switches that may have been affected from the spill from those you're sure haven't been affected (if any).
  2. Disassemble the case. You may have to look for a guide on YouTube. Most boards will use screws (guaranteed if it's an aluminum case) or locking plastic tabs (for plastic cases). Those locking tabs can be a huge hassle to handle.
  3. You should now have access to the PCB. You may need to disassemble even further to separate the PCB from the plate and top case.
  4. Now that the PCB has been separated, dab off any remaining liquid.
  5. If you have PCB-mount stabilizers, unclip or unscrew them from the PCB and dab any liquid under or around the stabilizers.

Cleaning the PCB

Now, depending on the extent of the damage, you will need to use the cotton swabs with the 99% isopropyl alcohol to scrub down your PCB. It's best to be thorough and patient as you clean off any residue that may be remaining. 

Clean both the front side and the back side.

From here, you're on your own with whether you feel the PCB is truly dry and whether you feel there's no more residue from the drink that could possibly affect the PCB. Once you're confident enough, connect the PCB to your computer without reassembling the keyboard, and use tweezers or install a clean switch one by one to see if it's functioning (I hope it is).

If all is good, you can clean up the rest of the case (be sure to remove all electrical components), let it dry out along with the keycaps, redo your stabilizers if they were affected, and check on your switches.

Your switches may be sticky around the exterior so they may need a careful wipedown. If they do not feel right as you're pressing down on them, the drink may have entered the switch- so they will need to be disassembled, cleaned, possibly re-lubed, and reassembled again.

Stuck or unable to perform a step? Don't want to take chances on doing it yourself? Now you can knock on our doors. We'll do the cleaning and testing for you and if there are any problems resulting from the spills, we'll fix it.

Happy holidays!

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