How to keep your Mac’s keyboard and mouse clean

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Banish dirt from keyboard and mouse

The day you unboxed and started working with your new Mac marked the day when your Mac’s keyboard and mouse or trackpad worked at their best. Since that day, little bits of dirt, dust and impurities have accumulated on these often used peripherals. The build-up of gunk makes your mouse less sensitive and can even cause your keyboard to miss a click or two every now and then.

It’s relatively easy to restore a keyboard and mouse to like-new condition. All it takes is a little cleaning and attention.

These instructions apply to mice, trackpads, and keyboards used with Apple computers.

Cleaning supplies

First, turn off your Mac and unplug the mouse, trackpad, and keyboard if they’re wired devices. If your keyboard, mouse, or trackpad uses batteries, remove the batteries.

Have the following items on hand:

  • Microfiber fabric
  • Compressed air canister with nozzle straw
  • Clean water. It does not need to be purified or distilled.
  • Cotton swabs or similar cleaning products
  • Toothpicks or similar items

Clean your Mac’s mouse

No matter what type of mouse you use, the body is cleaned the same way to remove oils, like fingerprints.

  1. Wipe down the body of the mouse with the microfiber cloth.
  2. For stubborn stains, soak the cloth in clean water and gently rub the mouse.
  3. Apply pressure to rub the dirty spots on the mouse. But don’t apply pressure near a scroll wheel, blanket, or tracking system.

Do not apply water directly to the mouse, as it may drip into the inner workings of the mouse, where sensitive electronic components are located.

Certain types of mice require special attention.

Powerful mouse

If you are using an Apple Mighty Mouse, the scroll ball should also be cleaned. Lightly dampen the microfiber cloth and roll the scroll ball against the cloth. You can also use a cotton swab to clean the scroll ball.

When the scroll ball is clean, use the can of compressed air to blow out dust and dirt from inside the well where the scroll ball is located. The air also dries the scroll ball after you clean it.

Magic mouse

If you have an Apple Magic Mouse, cleaning is greatly simplified. After cleaning the touch surface with a damp or dry microfiber cloth, run the microfiber cloth along the two guide rails under the Magic Mouse.

If your Magic Mouse seems to have tracking errors, i.e. if the mouse pointer gets stuck or jumps, use the can of compressed air to clean around the tracking sensor on the underside of the Magic Mouse. .

Other mice

If you are using a mouse from another manufacturer, follow the manufacturer’s suggested cleaning instructions and clean your mouse. In general, use a microfiber cloth to clean the exterior of the mouse. If the mouse has a scroll wheel, it may be regularly soiled with gunk. Use cotton swabs to clean the scroll wheel and the can of compressed air to clean around the scroll wheel.

In the worst case, you may need to open the mouse to access the optical sensor on the scroll wheel system. Not all mice open easily, and some are difficult to put together once opened. Do not operate a mouse unless you already have a spare mouse available and you don’t mind looking for the little spring that went through the room.

Apple trackpad

If you use a trackpad rather than a mouse, you’ll find that they’re even easier to clean:

  1. Remove the batteries from a wireless trackpad. If you’re using a wired trackpad, unplug it. If the trackpad is built into your laptop, turn off the computer and unplug it if it is plugged in.
  2. Dampen a clean microfiber cloth with water and use it to clean the flat surface of the touchpad.
  3. Dry the trackpad with a dry microfiber cloth.

Do not spray liquid on the touchpad.

Cleaning an Apple Wireless or USB Keyboard

To clean a Mac keyboard:

  1. Unplug the keyboard from your computer or remove the batteries from a wireless keyboard.
  2. Clean the surface of the keyboard with a microfiber cloth. Wrap a toothpick in a single layer of microfiber cloth to clean it between the keys.
  3. For stubborn surfaces, dampen the cloth with clean water, but make sure that there is no moisture in the openings. Never spray liquid on the keyboard.
  4. Use the can of compressed air to blow any extra debris around the keys.

About keyboard spills

Keyboards and fluids don’t get along. If you spill water or liquid on a keyboard, turn it off or unplug it immediately. Wipe off any visible liquid and turn the keyboard over to drain it on a soft cloth for at least 24 hours before attempting to use it. You may or may not need a new keyboard.

If the spill is on a laptop keyboard, immediately shut down the computer and take the computer to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider for repair. The entire computer is in danger.

Cleaning a stuck key on a laptop

When your MacBook or MacBook Pro keyboard has a key that does not respond or sticks when you press it, squeeze out the compressed air with the straw attached to its nozzle for precision control.

  1. Hold the laptop so that the keyboard is near vertical.
  2. Spray the keyboard (or a single glued key) with compressed air in a zigzag way from left to right and back.
  3. Rotate the Mac laptop 90 degrees on its right side and spray the keyboard or key with compressed air while zigzagging the air.
  4. Rotate the laptop 180 degrees to the left side and repeat the spraying process.

This process also works on any external keyboard.

Apple recommends that you take your keyboard to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider for repair if the compressed air does not resolve the stuck key issue.

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