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Laptop story with a happy end: cleaning up a keyboard after a coffee spill
Thread poster: Mats Wiman

Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 17:54
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...
Jan 26, 2004

Dear all,

Among all problem-filled discussions, here a real 'sunshine story' (Swedish expression).

We have bought a wonderful laptop with a 17" screen, complete keyboard with integrated numeric keyboard (like on desktop keyboards), 1 GB memory, 80 GB hard drive, a DVD burner at approx. EUR 2000 (exkl. VAT).

Two weeks after inauguration, my wife happened to splash coffee with milk on to the keyboard with its PERFORATED base plate.

Horror and despair!!

We loosened the keyboard and found a few drops on the underlying plate, which we dried up with kitchen paper.

We then deconnected and rinsed the keyboard in lukewarm water and dried it: Error!

We then immersed the splashed part in a tub of lukewarm water for three hours.
We used the vaccuum cleaner backwards to blow it 'dry' (=half-dry) and put it on the heating radiator (outdoor temperature: -10 deg.Celsius) until the next day.

The laptop is working beautifully!

Lesson AFAIK: Do not hesitate to use water in connection with a keyboard but be very, very careful to dry it completely before reconnecting it

I'm sure Hans-Bertil Karlsson can fill you in on the rest (different types of keyboards and why water is not dangerous etc).

Hans-Bertil can also tell you what to do with electronics soaked with Coca-Cola.

Have a nice day!

Mats J C Wiman
Übersetzer/Translator/Traducteur/Traductor > swe
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xxxncfialho  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:54
German to Portuguese
+ ...
Working with laptop´s.... Jan 26, 2004

Hello,
since I work a lot on my laptop my first rule is....no drinking (or having cups etc.) near the laptop, eating is o.k., but drinking is extremely forbidden....
Now you know why.....

Have a nice day,
Natália


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nyamuk
United States
Local time: 09:54
Indonesian to English
+ ...
Glad it worked for you. Jan 26, 2004

Mats Wiman wrote:
Lesson AFAIK: Do not hesitate to use water in connection with a keyboard but be very, very careful to dry it completely before reconnecting it


While you did preface your advice with an 'AFAIK' I would still be very hesitant to advice anyone to clean their keyboard by immersing it in water. While I have never seen a keyboard that has an electricity storing component, such as a capacitor, its never safe to assume that any device or peripheral does not store electrical current even when disconnected from a power supply.

That is not to say you can't clean a keyboard, I just don't think water immersion is the way to go about it. Many keyboards have a laminated pad below the keys and by immersing it in water you may be introducing more liquid than was left behind by an accidental spill. This liquid will be very hard to remove because the laminated pressure pad is usually sealed together. Even if you do manage to remove the liquid there is the risk of having introduced corrosion.

My advice is to wipe it dry, use compressed air if you are confident you won't be forcing liquid into tight places. If it is possible to disassemble the keyboard and you feel competent to do so, give it a go. Just keep in mind that laptop parts are expensive, and it a may be cheaper to have it cleaned by a technician than it would be to replace it if you can't get the puzzle back together.

At home I use a desktop keyboard and mouse with my laptop. Most Laptops have either a PS/2 connector or USB connector so that you can use these full sized inexpensive components. While there are many reasons that one might choose a large desktop portable computer, unless you need some features of these machines you may save money by purchasing a small laptop (~12") and buying a keyboard and flat panel display for use at home. This has the advantage when using the laptop at home connected to an external monitor and keyboard, your precious laptop can be pushed off a distance, or propped up on its side, out of harms way.

And if you really feel like a klutz perhaps a cyclists water bottle or a driving mug would be safer than an open cup or glass.


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 17:54
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No corrosion with laptop keyboards (AFAIK) Jan 27, 2004

Thanks for an interesting comment!

nyamuk wrote:
..by immersing it in water you may be introducing more liquid than was left behind by an accidental spill. This liquid will be very hard to remove because the laminated pressure pad is usually sealed together. Even if you do manage to remove the liquid there is the risk of having introduced corrosion.

I first rinsed it, but it did not work. Immersion does the job by soaking every cubic mm thus diluting the milk portion into disappearance.

As to corrosion, IMHO laptops has no parts that corrode because:
1. They use minimum weight parts like alumnium or titan.
2. They use induction instead of contact to achieve necessary current action.
3. The cost of using this design is much lower than those using various metal components.

To dry with certainty you should blow and heat. It has worked twice for me.

Happy keying


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nyamuk
United States
Local time: 09:54
Indonesian to English
+ ...
keyboard corrosion Jan 28, 2004

Mats Wiman wrote:

As to corrosion, IMHO laptops has no parts that corrode because:
1. They use minimum weight parts like alumnium or titan.
2. They use induction instead of contact to achieve necessary current action.
3. The cost of using this design is much lower than those using various metal components.


Like I said, glad it worked for you.

I suspect that many laptops have keyboards of the capacative switch type. These keyboards are said to be 'nearly corrosion proof.' but I have seen the keyboard matrix in keyboards like these become corroded and behave erraticaly. Also the keyboard may have a keyboard map ROM thats connectors can be shorted or become corroded.

In short my advice is if you can't get to a part to directly wipe or blow it dry don't introduce more liquid that you may not be able to properly remove.


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Laptop story with a happy end: cleaning up a keyboard after a coffee spill

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