Sticky Laptop Keys

Sticky Laptop Keys after a Juice Spillage

Have you accidentally spilt juice or some kind of drink on your laptop keyboard recently and now all the keys are sticky, making it difficult to type? If you have a spillproof keyboard then un-sticking those keys is quite a simple and cheap task.

My current laptop is less than 6 months old and to my horror my cat accidentally knocked over an entire glass of blackcurrant juice over the machine of which the keyboard took most of the brunt.

It was panic stations and the 1st thing I did was to shut down the laptop, grabbed the kitchen towel and mopped up as much spillage as I could. After that I got the girlfriends hairdryer out and gave it a good blast for 15 or 20 minutes before I even attempted to turn on the laptop to see if it worked or if it was completely broken.

After cleaning the rest of the blackcurrant juice off with a duster and some polish from the outer body, I cross my fingers and press the power button to see if my laptop would fire up. To my surprise, it did, and there was no damage at all and everything was functioning as it should be. I even downloaded a piece of software that tested all the keys on the keyboard, as that was my biggest worry.

However, as the days passed the keys on the keyboard had become unbelievably sticky, making it very difficult to type. The style of keys on my laptop keyboard have virtually no gaps between the keys and the outer shell of the laptop so I couldn't force a piece of kitchen towel or a cotton wool bud in between the gaps to try and clean them.

I initially thought that the stickiness would pass after a couple of weeks, but in fact the problem was getting slightly worse as the weeks passed. I was in a bit of a sticky situation (literally), and even though the laptop was functioning perfectly, the keyboard was becoming borderline unusable.

Removing each key individually or dismantling the laptop was not an option, as it would be unbelievably time-consuming, and the chances are it would never go back together or work properly again.

I decided to take a risk to try to fix the keyboard. I thought to myself, well, I might as well, as I'll either have to buy a new one or pay for an expensive repair.

So, how did I fix the problem of the sticky keys? I used a light lubricating spray called GT85, which will cost you around £3 for a 400ml can. The product is similar WD-40 and cleans, lubricates, drives out moisture from electrical systems and is safe to use on plastics.

Now before I sprayed the lubricant on my keyboard, I did some research to see if my laptop had one of those spillproof keyboards which consists of a thin rubber mat that is sandwiched between the keys and the circuit board of the laptop. Unfortunately I couldn't find any information, whether it did or didn't, but I took the gamble and presumed since it was a modern laptop and of a certain style that it did. I also took into consideration that since it already had survived an entire glass of blackcurrant juice a little bit of light lubricant wasn't going to do it any more harm.

GT85 comes with a little straw which attaches to the nozzle, which means you can carefully spray the lubricant around all the keys. Before I did this I made sure that the laptop was fully switched off and that I had plenty of kitchen towel on hand to mop up any access lubricant. After spraying a very light coating I pressed every single key several times to work in the lubricant, except the power button as my laptop has one of those built-in batteries that you cannot remove. After that I mopped up any access lubricant using some kitchen towel and let it dry for at least one hour.

One hour later, I press the power button and thankfully my laptop fired up perfectly and all the keys were now functioning with very minimal stickiness. In fact, after several days the keys were working absolutely perfectly with no hint of stickiness in any of them.

The only downside is that GT85 has a distinctive strong odour to it, which will linger for around 1 week or so, but since it saved me buying a new laptop or forking out for an expensive repair, it's just a small inconvenience.

Now, I must warn you if you do try this method, you are taking a risk. I only did it because I had very little option, and I was confident that my laptop had a spillproof keyboard. If your laptop doesn't have a spillproof keyboard, you may end up doing more harm than good. But if your laptop does have one or you have no other option than an expensive repair or replacement, then it's definitely worth trying. I would only use a very, very thin lubricant such as GT85 that is intended for electrical products and doesn't damage or stain plastic materials, et cetera. If you use a thicker lubricant spray it may just end up clogging things up.

If you or a pet does accidentally spill a glass of juice or water over your laptop keyboard, you should follow the following steps immediately:

1. Turn off the laptop straightaway by either removing the battery or holding down the power button until it switches itself off.
2. Use kitchen towel or another absorbing material to clean up as much of the liquid as possible.
3. Gently use a hairdryer to help evaporate any liquid that's made its way into the nooks and crannies. However, be careful not to hold the hairdryer to close as it can get unbelievably hot and damage your laptop.
4. If you can, use a cotton wool bud or a thin rag to clean in between the keys using rubbing alcohol or a mild detergent that contains no bleach.
5. Leave the laptop for at least 24 hours before you attempt to turn it back on.

If you do find that your laptop is completely broken after a spillage, you should remove the hard drive and check to see if it has any obvious damage. If it doesn't, hopefully you can easily transfer your save data to a new machine or external hard drive using the appropriate hardware.