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I'm one of today's best-selling computer book writers, with more than 15 million books in print.

This website keeps you up-to-date on my books, and your computers. Each week, I answer a reader's question on-line.

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Should I vacuum my keyboard?

A can of compressed air helps blow the crud out of your keyboard.Q: Windows 7 for Dummies says to vacuum the keyboard to clean it.

My laptop’s manual says, “to reduce the risk of electric shock or damage to internal components, do not use a vacuum cleaner attachment to clean the keyboard. A vacuum cleaner can deposit household debris on the keyboard surface.”

Is it safe to use a vacuum cleaner on a laptop?

A: You’re seeing a manufacturer’s standard fallback statement: “Let’s warn people about everything so we can never be sued.”

There’s no electric shock involved with the extremely low voltages being used in keyboards, both on desktops and laptops. Besides, modern vacuum cleaner nozzles are plastic, which don’t conduct electricity.

As for the household debris warning, well… If you’ve just used your vacuum cleaner to clean up after something messy, and you’ve left something gross on the nozzle, sure, that goo might end up on the keyboard, as well. A slightly damp rag will take that off.

That said, if the vacuum cleaner isn’t dislodging all the cat hairs and cracker crumbs from your keyboard, try compressed air sprayers.

Sold in most office-supply and computer stores, these aerosol cans shoot compressed air through a flexible plastic tube. The tube can reach into the crevices of your keyboard, effectively blasting out the debris.

But in a pinch, vacuum cleaners also work, especially if you use a small vacuum cleaner attachment designed for reaching into small spaces.


Comment from Dewey
Time September 27, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Twice a year I take the keyboard outside, turn it keys side down and shake for 15- 30 seconds.

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