How to Clean Under MacBook Keyboard : Guide

How to Clean Under MacBook Keyboard

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It doesn’t take much for a MacBook keyboard to get dirty. From dust in the air to crumbs from late-night snacking, your MacBook pro or MacBook Air keyboard will get dirty.

If you need to get your MacBook’s keyboard clean, we’ve got you covered. From a light dusting to removing stuck-on grime, you’re about to find out how to clean your MacBook’s keyboard.  

How to Clean a MacBook Keyboard? 

Clean a MacBook Keyboard

The best and easiest way to clean a MacBook’s keyboard is with canned air. Simply pulse air into the keyboard, pointing toward the keys. Aim specifically for keys that you know have dirt under them but also pass back and forth or in left to right motion over the keyboard a couple of times.

Canned air gets rid of loose debris or dirt, like crumbs that keep the keys from going down all the way. However, it doesn’t do much for stuck-on residue or liquids.

For this, you need a soft lint-free damp cloth. Don’t use a rag that may leave loose threads behind or a paper towel that could fall apart.

A common mistake that people make is spraying a household cleaner like Windex on the keyboard. Do not do this because it can cause damage.

isopropyl alcohol

If you need a liquid cleaner, use isopropyl alcohol because it dries quickly and doesn’t contain soaps or dyes. Also, apply the cleaner directly to the rag rather than the computer.

Before you start scrubbing, don’t forget to turn off your MacBook, because it prevents you from inadvertently making changes to the computer.

Be sure to catch the side of the keys when wiping the keyboard since this is where residue tends to build up and cause the keys to stick.

In a worst-case scenario, you may have to take the keys off entirely to remove dirt and debris from underneath.

Larger pieces of dirt don’t always come out with canned air, so you need to remove them by hand. Similarly, if liquid gets underneath the keys, then the underside of the affected keys must also be cleaned.

MacBook key come off pretty easily, but there is some technique required to remove them properly. Take a small prying tool, like a guitar pick, and slide it in between the key and the computer’s case.

Then, gently pry up on the key until it pops off. From there, you can clean the key and MacBook before popping the key back on.

Cleaning your MacBook Keyboard [Step-by-Step solution] 

Below you can find all the methods and steps to clean a MacBook’s laptop keyboard, starting with a simple dusting and progressing all the way to a complete disassembly. 

1. Get Necessary Supplies

Get Necessary Supplies

Before you even think about cleaning, you need to get some basic cleaning supplies. It is important that you don’t try to improvise because using the wrong supplies can damage your MacBook.

Here are some of the items you will need for the steps below:

  • Isopropyl alcohol (at least 70%, but 99% is best)
  • Lint-free rag
  • Canned air
  • Vacuum
  • Lint-free Q-tips
  • Plastic prying tool (preferably a guitar pick)

In Case, you are wondering how to clean your MacBook Screen, Go through this guide here

2. Blow Out Dust

Blow Out Dust

If you have loose dirt like dust and small crumbs, start by blowing out the keyboard with compressed air. You should regularly blow out your keyboard to keep dust and dirt from building up under it. All you need for this method is a can of compressed air.

  • Get a can of compressed air.
  • Put the included straw on the can.
  • Shut the computer down completely.
  • Angle the can between 45 and 75 degrees and point it toward the keyboard.
  • Hold the can with the nozzle about two to three inches away from the keyboard.
  • Pull the trigger on the canned air to spray into the keyboard. 
  • Continue holding the trigger while moving the nozzle around the keyboard.
  • Let go of the trigger after you’ve gone over the entire keyboard, or all of the dirt is gone.
  • If you don’t have canned air, then you can use a vacuum cleaner with a brush.
  • Quickly check to see if all of the keys work properly.

3. Wipe off Grime

Wipe off Grime

The next method for cleaning a keyboard is wiping off the outside of the keys. This is a good option to remove any stickiness from the keys. To remove any residue, you need a lint-free rag, as well as some isopropyl alcohol. If it looks like any residue spilled over the side of the keys, then you may also want to use some Q-tips.

  • Turn the MacBook off.
  • Carefully wipe off any wetness from the top of the keys.
  • Put a small amount of isopropyl alcohol to the rag.
  • Gently wipe the keyboard with the rag.
  • Identify problematic keys and scrub as necessary.
  • If there is residue on the side of a key, use a Q-tip with some isopropyl alcohol on it to clean the sides of the keys.
  • After cleaning, wait a few minutes for the isopropyl alcohol to dry.
  • Turn the MacBook back on and test the keys.

4. Cleanup Liquid

Cleanup Liquid

For the worst dirt and spills, you need to take individual keys off. The good news is that the keys come off pretty easily, but doing this type of thorough cleaning is time-consuming. The best way to go about this is to take off only the keys you need to clean. To clean liquid under the keys, you need a rag, isopropyl alcohol, Q-tips, and a prying tool.

  • Start by turning the MacBook off.
  • Take your prying tool and slide it between the key and the MacBook casing.
  • Gently pry the key upward until it pops off.
  • Wipe off any liquid from both the key and the MacBook casing.
  • Apply some isopropyl alcohol to the rag or Q-tip.
  • Carefully scrub the MacBook and the underside of the keyboard.
  • Wait a few minutes for the MacBook and key to dry.
  • Snap the key back onto the keyboard.
  • Turn the MacBook on and check if everything works.

5. Detached Keyboards

Detached Keyboards

Many people choose to use a more traditional keyboard rather than the one built into MacBooks. These are obviously different, so cleaning them can be a little more challenging. Standalone keyboards come in two built-styes, either membrane or mechanical. 

Either way, their keys are removable, so you don’t have to worry when it comes to cleaning. Apple also makes standalone keyboards that are membrane-style. The Apple keyboard is very similar to the ones on the MacBooks, so the above steps apply. Similarly, you can use the above steps for all of your non-Mac keyboards.


Is there a way to clean under keys on your MacBook keyboard? 

Yes, you can remove the plastic keycap from the keyboard to clean it. Use a plastic pry tool to wedge underneath it and gently apply pressure until it comes off. Then you can easily clean both the underside of the key and the MacBook’s frame.

How to clean a MacBook keyboard under keys without compressed air? 

Compressed air is the easiest way to get dirt from under the keys because you can aim a small stream. However, a vacuum with a brush attachment will also work. If you have an air compressor, you can use a blow gun on it in place of canned air.

How often should I clean my Mac keyboard? 

You should obviously clean your MacBook’s keyboard if it gets noticeably dirty. The frequency you should clean depends on how quickly it gets dirty. But you should regularly wipe the keycaps and blow the keyboard out with canned air. You should clean the keyboard when you clean your monitor.


As you can see, cleaning a MacBook keyboard is pretty easy. But it’s also worth mentioning that sometimes things do go wrong.

For instance, popping keys off the keyboard seems pretty straightforward, but they can break. If one breaks when you remove it, don’t panic because you can get replacements online.

But one of the most common mistakes that people make when cleaning keyboards is spraying a random cleaner directly on the keyboard.

You should never spray any liquids directly onto an electronic device because it could cause damage. Instead, apply the cleaner to a rag or Q-tip, then wipe the device.

Take extra care if liquid spills on the keyboard. Dry it up quickly with a rag and turn the computer off. Then take the keys off to clean and inspect the MacBook.

Always make sure that you work with the computer off, and allow it to dry fully.

About Christopher
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Christopher is a freelance writer from Louisiana. He primarily covers topics related to electronics and gaming, with a passion for how technology can make a positive impact.

Holding a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s degree in hospitality, he also writes about various aspects of business and finance.

Outside of writing, Christopher’s hobbies include woodworking and building LEGO sets. In addition to his enthusiasm for all things nerdy, he loves collecting and playing video games, particularly older ones.

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