Part of the routine cleaning around here involves running the vacuum cleaner nozzle over the keyboard to suck up random debris, but that doesn’t extract crud from under the keycaps. Almost exactly three years after the previous cleaning, I finally decided the keys had lost enough of their normal feel to justify the hassle of taking the thing apart.
Bolstered by that experience, however, I just yanked the keycaps off with a removal tool from my old bag of tricks, revealing the horror that lies beneath the surface:
Obviously, I got nasty habits…
The keycaps took a swim in a dishpan full of hot soapy water, endured some scrubbing, and emerged looking like new. Thwacking them on a towel ejected the remaining water from the posts.
With the electronics still in place, I vacuumed the larger chunks out of the tray, scrubbed the aforementioned hot soapy water around the bushings with an acid brush, then cleaned up the residue with cotton swabs. There’s a paper towel under the drain gutters to catch the runoff, which worked surprisingly well.
The keycap legends have been eroding, as they’re basically a decal stuck on the surface. Eventually I’ll have a crappy non-clicky Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate.
[Update: a spammer’s script has been attempting to create hundreds of junk comments per day, so I’ve temporarily disabled comments for this post. Drop me a direct note using the About / Copyright / Contact link on the right if it’s critical. I expect this to pass in a few days, but I may be underestimating the stupidity out there. ]
A note from regular commenter Frans:
Don’t get a Das Keyboard if you want a keyboard without a keypad. Look into e.g. a Leopold Tenkeyless Otaku. The one to which I include a link comes with the same Cherry MX Brown switches as the Das Keyboard Silent.
I want one too.
They look good to me, too, although I hope the weird Esc key is optional…
3 thoughts on “Microsoft Comfort Curve Keyboard Cleaning Redux”
Interesting. I have a few of the MS natural keyboards (one circa 2001, the other a year old), and these have the keycaps in modules. Haven’t had to clean out the new keyboard, yet, but it’s time is coming. (One of the older ones never got used much, so haven’t had it apart. It’s circa 2003, and slightly cheapified from the 2001 version.)
FWIW, cleaning the old style board: Unscrew the bottom, the old board uses something like 7 phillips head screws. Remove the aluminum backing plates and pull the membrane switch assembly. Pull the silicone protective layer off and you have the top with 3 keycap modules. Gently pop the modules out of the top and use a decent dishwashing liquid for a soak. You might need to use a sprayer (I get dog hair* in addition to the food/drink residue) to get the gunk out. Shake the water out, dry as long as necessary, and reassemble. I’m thrilled that I don’t need to pull any individual keys.
For my ‘wide body’ stance, the ergo keyboards are a wristsaver. So far, they’ve held up quite well. Never had to clean the second oldest keyboard (it’s a cheapified version of the older one, both bought in the early ’00s), but it looks like it’d have the same setup.
The new version (USB and all) is MS Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 v1.0. It seems slightly less prone to getting crumbs stuck in bad places.
We get dog hair on the top shelves in the closets. Seems to be a border collie skill. [grin]
Grab it before they decide to add silly function keys like on the lettered version. I was already strongly leaning toward the Ultimate, but the fact that it didn’t come with any extra keys I didn’t want sealed the deal.
I want one without the numeric pad on the right: a shorter keyboard would fit better between the two trackballs. Eventually this thing will wear out and I’ll be forced to made a decision…
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