Why Keyboards Get Oily | Cleaning & Prevention Guide


Whether you’re an avid computer user, a gamer, or an office worker, keyboards play an incredibly essential part for every computer-related activity. Well, the more you use a keyboard, the greater the chances of it getting oily.

You might be wondering, why does this happen, and what can I do to prevent my keyboard from getting oily? Well, that’s precisely what I’m here to tell you.

Keyboards get oily from eating at your desk, sweaty fingers, lack of maintenance, and just from wear and tear. To help prevent an oily keyboard, clean it regularly and consider using a keyboard cover to protect the keycaps. Always wash your hands before using your computer.

This article is meant for all the keyboard users looking to know the reason for their oily keyboards. I’m not only going to give you the cause, but I’m also going to explain to you how you can remove the grease and how you can prevent it from coming back onto your keyboard. 

Why Keyboards Get Oily Cleaning & Prevention Guide
Image by: u/Spotty_Towel

3 Reasons Why Keyboards get Oily

Are your keyboard keys shiny and sticky due to oil and grease? How did it get there? The short answer, it got there with excessive usage. Everything gets worn out after a certain period of use. It’s normal. But that’s not it; the long answer is there could be several reasons for a keyboard being oily. Let’s take a look at these reasons.

1. Eating oily foods and using the keyboard

We all know it is strictly against the keyboard user code of conduct to eat while gaming, working, or doing anything with a keyboard. But unfortunately, most of us end up breaking this rule.

It could be fried chicken, French fries, or tons of other oily foods that we might consume in our daily life while using the computer. Sometimes, the wipe might not be very thorough, and the fingers might still have oil on them while pressing the key. This could leave an oil mark on the ticket, and with time, it can become pretty deep-rooted, which can cause problems.

If you also do that off and on, no worries! 

2. Having sweaty fingers while using the keyboard

It’s not just oily foods that might cause your keyboard to become oily and greasy. On hot summer days, in a warm room, we sweat a lot. This sweat is especially evident in the fingers and palm area. If you’re using your keyboard with sweaty fingers, that could also be the reason.

The sweat from your fingers might get on your keyboard, and after some time, this sweat can get an oily texture. Removing it is pretty tricky, so it’s best to avoid using the keyboard with sweaty fingers.

3. Not cleaning keyboard for a long time

If you’re someone who works most of the time and doesn’t have time for everyday cleaning, your keyboards can suffer much. The thing is, like every piece of equipment we own, keyboards also require maintenance.

If you don’t clean your keyboard every once in a while, the natural dust and dirt in the atmosphere will form an oily, dirty layer on the keyboard, making the pressing experience weird and uncanny. This could also be a reason for your keyboard being oily.

4 Ways of Removing Oil and Grease from Keyboards

On the internet, you’re going to find many weird ways of removing oil and grease from your keyboard, but most of them don’t work. That’s why I’ve come up with a list of actual cleaning methods that I’ve personally used to clean my oily keyboard.

1. Use Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol is a compound that is colorless and highly flammable, so you should only use it in a safe environment. With the help of alcohol, you can easily clean oil from a keyboard. Let’s take a look at the process.

  • Switch off your keyboard.
  • Take a cotton swab.
  • Dip the swab in Isopropyl Alcohol.
  • Run it all over the keyboard keys, once used, take a new one and repeat the process.
  • Take a piece of cloth and wipe the keyboard finally because most of the alcohol will already be evaporated.
  • Your keyboard will now be oil-free and clean.

2. Clean with Water and Detergent

This one’s pretty fun to do, actually. You must’ve experience washing dishes. Do you see how the dishwashing detergent cuts oil? Well, that’s what we’re going to use.

You’re going to take a bowl and pour water into it. Then, you’re going to take the detergent and put a generous amount of it into the same bowl and mix for a while.

After, you’re merely going to take a piece of cloth, dip it in the mixture and drain the excess liquid. You’re going to rub the fabric over the oily keyboard through all the nooks and crannies.

Once you’ve done so, the detergent mixture will cut through the grease and oil reasonably quickly, and you’re going to be left with a clean and grease-free keyboard for quite a while.

3. Wipe With a Warm Towel

If you’re not in the mood of playing with detergent or using alcohol, then there’s always the less efficient but commonly used way. I am using straight-up warm water and a towel for the job.

What you’re going to do is, take a bowl of warm water and dip a towel into it. Keep the towel inside until it is warm. Switch the keyboard off. Then take the towel and rub the keyboard with it.

Once you’re sure you’ve rubbed the towel all over the greasy keyboard, you’re going to leave the keyboard to dry for a while. After it is scorched and there’s little to no grease shine on the keys, you can plug it in and use it.

4. Try out Cleaning Gel

Personally not my favorite option, but still an option to clean oil and grease off of keyboards is with cleaning gel. This is a sticky and gooey gel you can use to clean your keyboard. You can find it here on Amazon.

It’s somewhat like play-dough and slime. You’re going to stick it on the keyboard in patches where you think the grease is. Once pressed down, the gel will pick up all the debris, oil, and grease off the keys and the sides.

The downside to this method is that sometimes, instead of picking up the dirt, the gel gets stuck onto the keys making a bigger mess than before. So, if you’ve got no other option, only then go for this one.

How to Prevent Keyboards from Getting Oily?

We now know how to easily remove oil from our keyboards to maintain them and increase their overall longevity. But why take the chance, right? Instead of having to spend a lot of time cleaning it up, we should try preventing oil from reaching the keyboard in the first place.

But how can we do that? I’ve got a few prevention techniques that work like a treat in keeping keyboards oil-free. Let’s take a look at each of these methods individually.

Use a Keyboard Cover

You should consider using a keyboard cover to protect the keycaps. Silicone keyboard covers have been a thing for quite a while now. These covers are available from transparent to custom-designed and printed covers that you can place onto your keyboards or laptop keys to save them from getting oily.

There are also short-term usage stickers available. You can put these stickers on a short while and keep the keys safe and sound. This is an excellent method of keeping your keyboard grease-free.

Keep Your Hands Clean

We all try to make sure that our hands are clean all the time. But sometimes, we can forget to wash our hands after eating or not care about our hands’ sweatiness in hot weather.

A good technique of prevention of oily keyboards is to keep our hands clean at all times. If our hands are clean, we won’t accidentally get the keyboard oily and greasy. So, to accurately prevent your keyboard from getting oily, keep your hands clean.

Periodically Clean Your Keyboard

If you don’t want to clean your keyboard or laptop keys thoroughly and be unable to use them until they’ve dried up, there’s no other way around oily keyboards than just cleaning your keyboard periodically.

You don’t have to clean your keyboard every single day to avoid greasiness rigorously. All you have to do is find time to maintain your keyboard. If you’re able to keep it properly, you can save a lot of time by not having to clean it in the end because of excess oil and grease on the keys and their sides.

So, in my opinion, the best solution and prevention technique to avoid oily keyboards is to clean them now and then. You’ll save a lot of effort and time while having a great keyboarding experience.

Related article: How to Clean a Computer Keyboard


Oily keyboards can be a nightmare for gamers and people who use the computer for professional reasons. Imagine you want to press a key, and your finger slipped onto the neighboring one. This is a genuine possibility.

So, make sure you remove the oil and grease from your keyboard effectively and prevent oil from getting onto the keyboard so you can improve your typing experience while using your computer.

Recent Content