Help cleaning Macbook keyboard

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Benito Malito, Aug 20, 2006.

  1. Benito Malito macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2005
    Well I think I am one of the first to do major damage to their Macbook, and screw it up. Here is the sorta brief story;

    I spilled coffee on it. The whole large coffee. Well I flipped it, and pulled the battery immediately while it was still running. Drained it, and cracked it open to clean with alcohol. This worked well, until I spudged the connector for the fan right off the logic board. :( Apple basically asked for my credit card and first born. One tech had pity on me and knew a guy who could solder it back on. This shop could not get a connector for a reasonable price or in bundles smaller than 500 so they soldered the wires directly onto the logic board. Total cost was $40 and its running fine. :)

    Now my problem. The keyboard/trackpad still sticks and is so annoying to use. The 'm' key would not work till last week. The 'l' has issues, the space sticks and the treckpad buttondoes too. I need to clean it but really really really do not wanna pull it apart again. Can I pull the keys off with a paper clip? Any advice would be appreciated.
  2. harisdmac macrumors member

    Aug 16, 2006
    Go to a store (preferably apple store) describe them your problem and ask them for keyboard cleaning products (sprays, etc) if this doesnt work and if i were you, i would try to spray some clean water on it and dry it well for a couple of times before turning it on. If still does not work...then...just by a keyboard and use it externally.
  3. BlizzardBomb macrumors 68030


    Jun 15, 2005
    I'm pretty sure you can't simply take keys off. I can't really think of anything you could do to fix it apart from go to an Apple Store. Sorry if that's not helpful.
  4. Benito Malito thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2005
    Well at home I use an external keyboard, but its a crappy Dell. The problem is that I'm on the road a lot, and I just don't want to tow it along.

    I am not going to the apple store again. All they ever do is ask for my credit card and then ask for it again.

    I used to clean my old iMac keyboard by pulling it apart with a paper clip. I just want to know if that is possible before I try. Regrettably I may pull the keyboard again and soak it in a 70/30 water/alcohol bath. My faithful G3 iBook is synced up and still works flawlessly.

    Thanks for the input. :)
  5. Fiveos22 macrumors 65816


    Nov 20, 2003
    I haven't been able to (nor really wanted to) pop any keys off of my MacBook's keyboard, BUT I did get the opportunity to put two popped keys back onto a MacBook Pro.

    Let me tell you...DON'T EVER PULL THE KEYS OFF OF A MACBOOK PRO, or a MacBook. The Pros are bad enough (with that ridiculous overengineered plastic see-saw arrangement) I can't imagine what novelties lie underneath my MacBook's keyboard.

    My advice, let time (or someone else) heal it.
  6. williamsonrg macrumors 6502

    Sep 8, 2004
    Denver, CO
    My Macbook space bar just started sticking... And I've never spilt a thing on it. I baby this thing...
  7. kaare.iverson macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2007
    sticky keys

    I'm also suffering from sticky keys thanks to my macbook's affinity to white wine. I was wondering if anyone has yet disassembled a macbook to clean the keyboard?

  8. meneerTan macrumors newbie

    Jul 15, 2007
    removing keys macbook keyboard - incl. PICTURES


    I had a similar problem with sticky keys, due to an accident with a bottle of beer.

    It actually proved not that difficult to remove the keys from my macbook keyboard.

    The problem of the sticky keys is caused by the 'things' that connect the key to the keyboard. These 'things' (I really don't know what to call these) are two little pieces of plastic that together hold the key to the keyboard as it is pressed upwards by a little plastic thing. In my case - and I suppose also in all the other cases - the residue of the beer made these two plastic pieces stick together, causing e.g. the spacebar to only slowly rise after pressing it - which was very irritating.

    Removing the sticking keys (instructions below), removing the plastic things (not that difficult; take a close look at the pictures and you'll be able to work out how to remove and reassemble these structures) and cleaning them with some alcohol, and cleaning the key and 'keyhole' with a cottonswab and some alcohol solved all my problems :)

    To remove the keys:

    For the BOTTOM ROW of keys (ctrl, space etc.) pull the key at the topside (nearest to screen) until it lets go with a 'click' (this can be a bit scary, with every key I feared I had broken the mechanism, but it actually turns out to be quite sturdy); then slide the key towards the topside.

    The spacebar is a little bit more tricky, as it is attached at two points, and furthermore is connected to two little metal bars, but with appropriate pressure, these will also let go.

    For the keys above the bottom row such as 'M' the procedure is basically the same, but you'll have to pull at the LEFT side, and then also slide the key to the left in order to remove it.

    :confused: Please note that I did not take off any other key above the bottom row other than 'M'. I don't think it's likely, but it could be that the keys on the left side of the keyboard are connected differently: be careful. :confused:

    To reassemble:

    First slide the key from top to bottom (or left to right, for keys above the bottom row), then push down for the 'click' (spacebar should have two clicks for the mechanism, and several for the little metal bar)

    Hopefully some pictures will clarify the process:

    :) Clearly it is possible to clean your macbook keyboard yourself :)
  9. ktbubster macrumors 6502a


    Jan 20, 2007
    hmm so they are the same as the tibooks were. Nifty. They just seem different when typing.

    One thing I wish would go BACK into the keyboards..... BEING ABLE TO TAKE IT OFF TO ACCESS PARTS like on the tiBook. I LOVED that feature. It made cleanin SO much easier. I could clean out my keyboard and lightly shake it and blow it from all angels. If they could somehow make the current Mb and MBP keyboards pop out (maybe even have a connector for them only so you could remove them easier completely to clean with a solid back) that would be fine by me too, infact niftier. Def make replacing the keyboards easier for them...

    OH well PLenty of reasons they can't do this, but it sure would be nice :) :rolleyes:
  10. meneerTan macrumors newbie

    Jul 15, 2007
  11. hemenwayc macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2007
    Good website for cleaning keys

    Here is a good website for cleaning keys with some photos:
    Requires that you pop off the keys -- my advice is to take one off, look at it carefully to see how it works, clean it, put it back on. If you do it right, it takes no real force. Then do the others.

    I find that using Dustoff or other air tools just moves dirt around. I use a small vacuum just for computers and other electronic components (not as powerful as a regular vacuum, which can suck off the keys!)

    Good luck.
  12. kaare.iverson macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2007
    clean macbook keyboard

    Thanks yo,

    My Macbook is clean and happy again. Those pictures where a big help...someone posted a link to the ibook support page on and they had some similar information that helped
  13. kaare.iverson macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2007
  14. lolita macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2007
    Just to give meneerTan more cred, I will also back his simple fix for the keyboard. Luckily the wine only affected my function key, but that's enough for a scare. I have the new 2.13ghz macbook.

  15. tysonz macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2007
    well i spilt a coke on my macbook pro and i have about three buttons that do not work at all and my trackp pad sticks. How much does it cost to bring it to a mac store and have them clean it? and will it be 100% better? i do not want to remove the keys on my own. thanks.
  16. tiaciias macrumors newbie

    Dec 27, 2007
    mennerTan's advice is really great! I too got here via Google and found the flickr set helpful-- thanks a lot.

    But I got stuck on reassembling the little plastic pieces inside the key. Now it seems obvious, but I spent an embarrassingly long time trying to figure out how they fit together. In case anyone else found that just as hard, I made another Flickr set documenting the way I did it, step by tiny step:
  17. JONosk macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2008
    Hello, everyone.
    Well, I spilt soda on my macbook. I could clean sticky keyboard using the above method. But, my problem is trackpad button. This is still sticky and I don't know how I pull off this button. Could you tell me how to pull off trackpad button safely if you know it?
    Thank you.
  18. ruckus macrumors regular


    Oct 19, 2005
    I have a TI-89 calculator that my girlfriend in college spilled juice on 4 years ago. The enter button on it was sticky up until a couple days ago. It would drive me nuts to use and frustrated me terribly. I got so frustrated, i just put a drop of water around the edge of the button and pressed it a few times and let the water sink in.

    The next morning it was slightly sticky so I did it again, now its perfect!

    I'm not advising dumping water on, but it might work to just let a drop of clean water in around the keys and work it a bit.
  19. funkytaco macrumors newbie

    Apr 3, 2008
    Thank you. :) Your instructions for M key were accurate. Same goes for the backslash \ key. For Enter key, I pushed towards the top side and pried on the top side.

    I'm using an alchol-based hand sanitized made by member's mark, because the alcohol will evaporate quickly and i would assume is less likely to rust metal than water.
  20. nedward macrumors newbie

    Aug 3, 2008
    You can avoid the fear of the click (for at least most keys on the keyboard) by using a mobile phone housing tool such as this: [​IMG]

    Use it to gently look under the key and you should see little two plastic lugs on opposite sides of the key poking through small metal bracket holes (These are on the left, top and bottom of most square keys and top row keys except num lock which is on the right top and bottom. Keys like cmd, ctrl and fn are on top, left and right).

    Simply push the plastic lug gently out of the metal bracket holes on either side and the key is losened. It should now come out of the socket in the direction opposite to the side of where the lugs were. You will see why when it is off...a hook like bracket.

    This site has a good photo:
    To replace gently pop the plastic mechanism out of the back of the key with the above mentioned tool. Place the mechanism back over the metal hook like bracket and then the lugs back into the metal bracket holes in the keyboard base. Then simply centre the key and push down until you hear about three clicks (you'll know that it is on).

    Presto, all done without worry of breaking anything!

    --In the case of the keys that have a wire bar such as space bar and tab the story is a little I am procrastinating I will probably leave that to another date to figure out.
  21. funkytaco macrumors newbie

    Apr 3, 2008
  22. SpiltSoda macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2009
    So, I need a bit of help here. Yesterday, clumsy oaf that I am, I spilled soda on my new late 2008 modl macbook pro. Had it for a month, and boom, soda all over it. So I did the usual thing, unplugged everything, turned it off, and did my best to clean it up. Seemed to work fine, and I used it the rest of the day. As the day continued I could feel the buttons starting to get sticky. :( When I got home I looked at how to remove the keys on sites like this and proceeded to remove and clean all the ones that felt sticky. I looked in my cupboard and found some goo gone, so put that on the key, let it sit for 10 seconds, then washed it off. I did that to about 25 of the keys, and when they were back on they seemed to be as good as new... for a while. I also opened the bottom and cleaned out what I could see there. There did seem to be some on the board, and I tried to get as much as I could off with a cuetip. Obviously I can't see the other side of the board without some serious dismantling which I'm not comfortable with doing myself. So everything seemed good, then a few hours later I can feel the keys sticking again. By morning it was very sticky to the point that it is difficult to type. I looked more online about removing the keys and saw how you can remove the plastic seesaw thing from the key and did that to a, s, and d and rinsed them thoroughly with water. They seem better but as time goes I can feel that they might be getting sticky again. When I get home I'm going to try using rubbing alcohol on all the keys. Hopefully that'll work.

    My big problem though are the keys not attached the same way like the afformentioned spacebar. That key is super sticky and I can't find anywhere where it says how to remove it.

    Hoping if I can do this, get them all clean with alcohol, that I can forget about this. Can anyone help?
  23. funkytaco macrumors newbie

    Apr 3, 2008
    Get a butter knife or something like that and wedge it under the top side of the key, so you can see the pieces underneath it.

    There's a metal clip as thick as a paper clip in the shape of a rectangle-shaped U and a plastic piece. It's probably one of the easier keys to take off.

    Btw, in my case, I popped off every single key to clean it. I'd hate to have to keep cleaning it like you have. :mad:

    Also, my "M","|", "\" and DELETE keys still don't work! LOL
  24. Prekesh macrumors regular


    Jan 12, 2009
    i might do this but i'm afraid of breaking the plastic... my F key is sticking like mad because i split some juice on my keyboard
  25. funkytaco macrumors newbie

    Apr 3, 2008
    Just get some dish soap & water and blot the key with a lightly dampened sponge then. Just don't use alot of water to prevent rust.

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