Freeing stuck keys on your keyboard

Table of contents:

Freeing stuck keys on your keyboard
Freeing stuck keys on your keyboard

Keys almost always get stuck due to liquid spills or debris under the key. In this article, we'll show you how to get the keys clean again. We also tell you how to solve hardware and software problems.


Method 1 of 3: Cleaning the keys

Fix Sticky Keyboard Keys Step 1

Step 1. Disconnect the power

Unplug the keyboard cord from the computer or remove the batteries. In the case of a laptop, turn off the computer and remove the plug from the socket.

Fix Sticky Keyboard Keys Step 2

Step 2. Use a can of compressed air

Purchase a can of compressed air from an office supply store and spray it around the stuck keys to remove dust and grime.

  • If you don't have a can of compressed air available, you can turn the keyboard upside down and tap it while gently shaking the keyboard back and forth.

    Fix Sticky Keyboard Keys Step 2Bullet1
Fix Sticky Keyboard Keys Step 3

Step 3. Clean with isopropyl alcohol

Dampen a cotton swab or clean cloth with isopropyl alcohol. Run around the edges of each key to remove grease and dried-on liquid.

There are those who claim that baby oil works well, but it can get left under the keys, so use at your own risk

Fix Sticky Keyboard Keys Step 4

Step 4. Remove dirt with a toothpick or paper clip

If you can see bits of dirt with the naked eye, try removing them with a toothpick or straightened paper clip.

Method 2 of 3: Cleaning under the keys

Fix Sticky Keyboard Keys Step 5

Step 1. Take a picture of the keyboard

If you have to remove several keys, it is useful to take a photo first, so that you know later which key belongs where.

Before proceeding, make sure the keyboard cord has been unplugged from the computer, any batteries have been removed, or your laptop has been turned off and unplugged

Fix Sticky Keyboard Keys Step 6

Step 2. In the case of a laptop, first consult the user manual

With most laptops it is not easy or even impossible to remove the keys. So first consult the user manual of your type of laptop, or take your laptop to a professional repairer.

On a MacBook from 2012 or newer, keys can be removed by pulling on the top left corner

Fix Sticky Keyboard Keys Step 7

Step 3. Remove the stuck keys

On PC keyboards, the top of a key can normally be loosened with a flathead screwdriver.

Most of the dirt is in the letters and numbers. Other keys are usually less dirty and often more difficult to get back into place, especially in the case of the space bar

Fix Sticky Keyboard Keys Step 8

Step 4. Clean under the keys

Use a can of compressed air to blow away dust and dirt, then remove sticky residue and stains with a cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol.

Be careful with laptop keyboards or keyboards with sensitive parts

Fix Sticky Keyboard Keys Step 9

Step 5. Wash and dry the keys

If the undersides of the keys are discolored or otherwise dirty, place them in a colander and rinse under running water, or wipe them clean in a bowl of soap and water. Let them dry completely on a piece of kitchen paper.

Fix Sticky Keyboard Keys Step 10

Step 6. Clean the key mechanism

Try this technique if a key is difficult or slow to go up or down. After you have removed the key, you will see a square piece of plastic around the key. Remove this piece of plastic by pushing the corners to the side with a toothpick. Then clean it with water to get the mechanism smooth again and let it dry well.

With a MacBook, the mechanism is held in place by clips on the bottom, left and right

Fix Sticky Keyboard Keys Step 11

Step 7. Allow to dry thoroughly before use

Let the keys dry completely first, then press them into place. Let the keyboard dry overnight before use.

Method 3 of 3: Fix hardware and software problems

Fix Sticky Keyboard Keys Step 12

Step 1. Try another program

If the keyboard problems only occur with a particular program, then there is a software problem.

Fix Sticky Keyboard Keys Step 13

Step 2. Check the keyboard plug or batteries

Irregular results when pressing keys can be caused by dead batteries. A USB keyboard works best when connected directly to the computer, not through a USB hub, keylogger, or other device.

Fix Sticky Keyboard Keys Step 14

Step 3. Turn off the computer before reconnecting a keyboard with PS/2 connector

Keyboards with a circular 6-pin PS/2 plug can cause problems if they are connected while the computer is on. Turn off the computer, disconnect the keyboard, and then reconnect it.

Fix Sticky Keyboard Keys Step 15

Step 4. Repair internal laptop components

If some keys do not work when pressed, a connection inside may have become loose. In most cases, it is wise to take your laptop to a repairer, unless you have a repair manual for your specific laptop and experience in repairing laptops.


  • If all of these steps don't work, take your keyboard to a computer store. Staff in these stores often have access to specialist cleaning materials and have experience with key removal.
  • If the keys move normally, but you don't see anything on your screen, that could indicate a wiring problem. This is common with laptops that have just been opened. Open the laptop again and tighten any loose connections. If you have no experience with this, it is better to take the laptop to a computer store.
  • If you spill something on your keyboard, immediately detach the keyboard and turn it upside down. Wipe off as much as possible with a dry cloth, let it dry overnight, then clean as described in this article.


  • Be very careful when removing keys and when removing dirt from under the keys, something can easily break off.
  • Do not use aerosols or other cleaning agents that contain hydrogen peroxide. Never apply liquids directly; always use a damp cloth or cotton swab.

Popular by topic