[Explained] Can You Clean Keycaps with Isopropyl Alcohol?

If you’ve ever owned a mechanical keyboard, you know that over time, the keycaps can get dirty, sticky, or covered in grime. It’s a common issue for anyone who spends a lot of time typing away on their keyboard. 

So, how do you clean those precious keycaps Well, one solution that often comes up is using isopropyl alcohol. But is it really the ideal method? However, you can use isopropyl alcohol but you will need to use it in a proper way. Otherwise, you may need to look for spare keycaps for your keyboard.

Seems confusing, right? Then there is nothing to worry about as we have shared a proper description in this article. It will help you to find out the proper answer that you are looking for. Let’s dive into the details and explore the best ways to clean your keycaps.

Can You Clean Keycaps with Isopropyl Alcohol

Will It be Ideal to Clean Keycaps with Isopropyl Alcohol?

On the internet or in YouTube videos, you will find that people are using isopropyl alcohol to clean their keyboard’s keycaps without any issues. The IPA is a great option for cleaning plastic materials till you are using it according to the cleaning guidelines. 

There you will find keycaps with two different plastic materials, now we will discuss here, whether it will be ideal to use ISA to clean the keycaps made by the two plastic materials, ABS, and PBT.

For ABS Keycaps

ABS or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene is a common material used for keycaps. It’s known for its durability and affordability, making it a popular choice among keyboard enthusiasts. Isopropyl alcohol can be used to clean ABS keycaps, but there are a few things to keep in mind. 

ABS is susceptible to damage from certain chemicals, and prolonged exposure to high-concentration isopropyl alcohol can lead to discoloration and even structural damage. According to research, the lifespan of ABS keycaps has been reduced by 90%!

For PBT Keycaps

PBT or Polybutylene Terephthalate keycaps are another common type. They are known for their resilience and resistance to wear and tear. Isopropyl alcohol is generally safe to use on PBT keycaps due to its robust nature. You can use a higher concentration of isopropyl alcohol without worrying about damage. However, as a precaution, it’s still a good idea to avoid prolonged exposure.

What Should Be the Concentration Percentage of Isopropyl Alcohol?

Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) is available in a variety of concentration percentages, ranging from 70% to 99%. The ideal concentration for cleaning keycaps depends on the type of keycaps you have.

ABS Keycaps

ABS keycaps are the most common type of keyboard keycaps. They’re lightweight and durable, but they’re also prone to shine and become greasy over time.

70% IPA or less: This concentration of IPA is ideal for cleaning ABS keycaps. It’s strong enough to remove dirt, grime, and fingerprints, but it’s not so strong that it will damage the plasticizer in the keycaps.

90% IPA or more: This concentration of IPA is too strong for ABS keycaps. It can dissolve the plasticizer in the keycaps, which can make them brittle and crack.

PBT keycaps

PBT keycaps are more resistant to shine and grease than ABS keycaps. They’re also more durable and less likely to be damaged by IPA.

90% IPA or more: This concentration of IPA is ideal for cleaning PBT keycaps. It’s strong enough to remove even the most stubborn stains and marks, without damaging the keycaps.

Alternatives to Isopropyl Alcohol to Clean Keycaps

If you’re not comfortable using IPA, there are a few other alternatives that you can use to clean your keycaps.

  • Warm soapy water: This is a simple and effective way to clean keycaps. Just mix a few drops of dish soap with warm water and scrub the keycaps with a soft toothbrush.
  • Diluted vinegar: Vinegar is a natural disinfectant that can also be used to clean keycaps. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray the keycaps down. Let the vinegar sit for a few minutes before scrubbing them with a soft toothbrush.
  • Keycap cleaner: There are a number of commercial keycap cleaners available on the market. These cleaners are specifically designed to remove dirt, grime, and fingerprints from keycaps.

Bonus Tips – Tips for Using Isopropyl Alcohol

Here are some additional tips for cleaning your keycaps with IPA:

  • Remove the keycaps from your keyboard before cleaning them.
  • Wipe down the keycaps with a dry cloth to remove any loose dirt or debris.
  • Dip a cotton swab in IPA and rub it over the keycaps to remove any remaining dirt, grime, or fingerprints.
  • Rinse the keycaps with warm water to remove any residual IPA.
  • Dry the keycaps with a soft cloth.

If you have any stubborn stains or marks, you can soak the keycaps in a solution of IPA and water for a few minutes before scrubbing them with a soft toothbrush.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, you can clean keycaps with isopropyl alcohol, but it’s crucial to consider the material of your keycaps. ABS keycaps should be cleaned with a lower concentration of isopropyl alcohol, while PBT keycaps can handle higher concentrations. However, there are alternative cleaning methods that may be more suitable for your specific keycaps. Remember to exercise caution and avoid prolonged exposure to any cleaning solution. Keep your keyboard clean, and it will keep you typing efficiently for years to come!

Have more questions about keycap cleaning? Feel free to leave a comment below, and we’ll be happy to assist you. Thanks for reading, and happy typing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use rubbing alcohol instead of isopropyl alcohol?

Yes, rubbing alcohol, which typically contains isopropyl alcohol, can be used to clean keycaps. Just ensure it is a high-concentration isopropyl alcohol for efficient cleaning.

Can I clean my keycaps without removing them from the keyboard?

While it’s possible to clean keycaps without removing them, it’s more effective to remove them for a thorough cleaning. Without removing can damage the PCB board of your keyboard. Using a keycap puller can make the process easier and prevent damage to your keyboard.

Can I use isopropyl alcohol to clean my keyboard case?

Yes, you can use isopropyl alcohol to clean your keyboard case. However, it’s important to avoid getting IPA on the circuit board or any other electronic components.

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