At some point in the life of your PC or laptop keyboard, you may need to remove a key to clean underneath or replace it. Whether you've spilled something on your keyboard, or a key has stopped working and you need to look under it to see what's going on, it's important to remove keys properly without damaging the keyboard. This can be done with a special tool called a key remover, or with household tools you probably already have at home.
Method 1 of 3: Removing keys with a key remover
Step 1. Purchase a key remover from an electronics retailer or online
These small accessories are designed to grab and remove the keys without causing damage to the keys themselves or the switches they sit on. Check with local electronics repair shops to see if they sell this tool.
There are plastic and wire key removers. The wire variant is considered better than the plastic kind because it is more durable and less likely to scratch the keys. Both types work fine for removing keys. However, if you are concerned about scratches, you should use the wire variant
Step 2. Slide the teeth of the key remover under the edges of a key
If you're using a plastic remover, you should hear a click when it clicks into the key. With a wire remover, you have to twist the handle once the teeth are under the fingerboard to hook the wire loops under two corners of the fingerboard.
Step 3. Pull up on the key remover to remove the key
The key will now slide off the switch it is attached to. To remove multiple keys, take the newly deleted key out of the key remover and repeat the process.
With a wire key remover it is possible to remove three to four keys in a row before you have to remove them from the remover
Method 2 of 3: Using Household Tools
Step 1. Use a flat head screwdriver or a butter knife as an alternative to a key remover
Make sure the screwdriver or blade fits under the keys of your keyboard. Be careful when using a knife so you don't cut yourself!
A screwdriver or knife can easily scratch the keys and keyboard, so keep this in mind if you're concerned about some minor surface damage to your keyboard
Step 2. Improvise a homemade key remover with a paper clip
As an alternative to a knife or flat head screwdriver, you can bend a paperclip to work just like a key remover. Unbend the paperclip completely, then make it into a 'U' and bend the ends inward so that they can hook under a key the same way you would a key remover.
Step #3. Slide your chosen key remover alternative under a key and pry it free
Gently apply upward pressure with the tool of your choice until the key releases. In some cases the key will not come off completely with the tool, so pull it off further with your fingers.
Work slowly as you pry off the keys so you don't launch them into the air and never find them again
Method 3 of 3: Cleaning and replacing keys
Step 1. Clean the bottom of the removed keys
Dampen a cotton swab with water or alcohol to clean the underside of the key. Wipe off any dirt or sticky spots in the hard-to-reach areas under the fretboard.
If something appears to be damaged under the key, you should take your keyboard to a computer repair technician for inspection
Step 2. Wash the removed keys with soap and water
Use a mild dish soap and warm water to thoroughly clean the removed keys that you want to put back on the keyboard. If you wash keys, make sure to dry them completely afterwards before reattaching them to the keyboard.
If you replace the keys with new ones, you can just throw the old ones away
Step 3. Click the cleaned or replaced keys back on the keyboard
Orient the key you want to attach to the keyboard by aligning the holes in the bottom of the key with the plastic pieces that hold the keys in place on the keyboard. Press evenly on all sides of the key to snap it back into place.
You will hear a click and feel the key press down normally when it is properly attached
Step 4. Done
- Refer to your PC or laptop manual for instructions on how to remove keys. Some keys are not designed to be removed individually. In that case, you may need to take your keyboard or laptop to a computer repair technician.
- Turn off your PC or laptop before working on it. You don't want to accidentally type commands on your computer while deleting keys! It's also generally wise to turn off electronics and unplug them while working on them.