Mechanical Keyboard Clean/Reassemble. What Lube to Use ?

Hi all,

Spilled soft-drink onto / into my mechanical keyboard. Keys started pressing randomly and lights flickered then went off. I decided to desolder all keys and inspect the circuit board, which surprisingly didn't look too bad, tough i just hope the chips are OK.

Anyways, I'm about to clean the keys, and was wondering what lube to get? I have read non-petrolium based grease, and others have said Lithium-grease. I found this one,

Weldtite TF2 Lithium Grease Tub (100 grams) - $16.00, though not 100% sure if it's suitable. Any thought/suggestions ?

Also, tips on the best/quickest way to clean all the keys? I recently washed a black Logitech keyboard (non-mech) with dish-soap, and it has a white haze now. Not sure how it would go with the mech keys…perhaps just hot water and elbow grease?

Thanks in advance.

Comments

  •  

    You could try silicone grease as its nonconductive?

    •  

      Thanks for the suggestion :). Just to confirm, grease is generally only used only on the stabilizers, not the keys themselves ?

  • +1 vote

    Ideally you take off the keycaps and dunk it in iosproprel alc. if cheap I just just clean cold water or a running tap with toothbrush for some scrubbing. Be sure to give it a few shakes and low heat hair drier. Don’t use any cleaners with water .

    Don’t use lube

    •  

      Be careful, if you're keys aren't indented, full Iso alcohol could take off your lettering

      •  

        I had a look at the key, seems to be molded clear, then painted black over the top except where the lettering goes. The keyboard is RGB version, so likely for the light to shine through.

    •  

      Thanks for the tip :). I got some IPA here, though just in case, I'll try with cold water first.

  • +4 votes

    Key caps are easily cleaned by soaking and swishing them in a bucket of warm water & dishwashing liquid.

    If you've gone to the trouble of desoldering every key switch then bravo! you must love your keyboard. If you haven't fallen down the custom mechanical keyboard hobby rabbit-hole, here is a taste, Superlube in a can might be applicable

    https://youtu.be/EWQjycAJb6g?t=151

    The keyboard enthusiasts use lubes made by Krytox and tribosys. They disassemble each switch and use a small paint brush. I got mine from a local supplier https://dailyclack.com/

    For you I would suggest dropping alcohol inside the sticky switches with a straw like this https://youtu.be/Tw_tpElJbxY?t=430
    Let it dry and use super lube on every key switch, for a consistent feel across the board.

    There is also the option to buy new switches. And the option to solder Mill Max sockets so you can hotswap the new switches without having to de-solder again.

    Good Luck!

    •  

      Haha, getting use to it, though don't like the design with the hole under the space bar :/. I heard others use 'Superlube', so might check that out. Modding isn't something that's caught my attention, at least not at this stage, but will check out what others have done. :)

      Though the good feedback on the oils, they seem quite pricey :/. I'm not really an enthusiast, so might stick with something a little cheaper haha.

      When the IPA dries, would the softdrink sugars not settle again resulting in sticky keys? I heard not to get lube on the contacts otherwise they may not work. Have you experienced this? Perhaps there's a particular side to spray in, or would be better to open each key and clean/lube?

      I had a look at the other switches from local computer stores, but quite expensive ($60) :/. I'll have to have a look online (ebay, aliexpress) see what they go for. Wondering, as switches seem basic in design, would cheaper ones be just as good ?
      That 'Mill Max' sockets seem like a good idea, wonder why manufacturers didn't have something similar by default.

      •  

        Manufacturers don't use the sockets because of cost. You'll find some keyboards that have 'hotswappable swtiches' they usually use a different more robust part manufactured by Kailh.

        Cheap switches can be had from aliexpress. Gateron, Kailh & Outemu are brands that have cheap switches available. I've used the first 2. If you think the switches you currently have are too sensitive, then you might want to get a different type of switch, one with a stronger spring. Or you could even replace just the spring.

        The alcohol will hopefully disolve the sugar and move it to a place that doesn't have any moving bits. You can always re-arrange the switches, so any non working or crappy feeling ones are used for keys you hardly use. The ones that aren't cleaned properly by the straw method will have to be opened up.

        dielectric grease is too thick, but is better than nothing, if the alcohol has taken away the factory lube. Lube on the contacts is generally bad, I'm guessing you are reffering the the metal 'leaf' mechanism that causes the pins to bridge and engage the switch. Every switch is a little different, but putting a non conductive layer on that section would stop it from working. Some people lube the section of the leaf that makes contact with the plastic stem that presses up against it.

  •  

    There are lubricants that are preferred for lubricating keyboard switches. Krytox 205 or Tribosys 3203 for the switch housings, and Krytox 105 for the springs. It will get you the best results but will also be the most time-consuming option. Example of where to get it:
    https://www.switchkeys.com.au/collections/lubricants

    The fastest way to lube them may be to 'spray lube' your keyboard switches. You can google this to see guides/videos.

    One potential concern is that your soft drink may have gotten inside some of your keyboard switches. You might want to consider cleaning or replacing these.

    As you have already desoldered all your keys, you could also consider soldering brand new/different keyboard switches, if you wanted to try something new:
    https://www.pccasegear.com/category/113_1870/keyboards/keybo...
    You can get these cheaper if you shop around (Aliexpress, etc).

    •  

      Thanks for the link. The lubricants do seem quite expensive :/, wondering how much better they would be compared to something like 'Superlube', especially for a non-enthusiast ?
      That link however did show 'PERMATEX DIELECTRIC GREASE', which I read was used in a test. Assuming it is plastic safe, I'm guessing it'll only be used to grease the stabilizers ? How would that compare to a Silicone or Lithium grease ?

      I do believe soft drink entered some switches, as pushing down, they do feel resistant and sticky. I'm not sure how effective dropping a lil IPA in there and working the switch will be, whether the sticky sugar will come back after the IPA has evaporated ? or better to go the long route and disassemble each switch ?

      I had a look at the PCCG link, though the switches are a bit pricey. I'll have to check out what cheaper option are available, though only got the keyboard not long ago, still getting use to how sensitive the keys are :p.

      •  

        Superlube is a brand that makes lots of different types of lubricants. There are a couple that might be suitable for keyboards. You could try checking out Amazon or some local retailer (like Mektronics).

        I've only ever heard of Permatex being used on stabilizers. It's very viscous and I think it would probably be too much for you liking (the keys might feel slower or mushy as a result).

        Switch disassembly would be required to use any of the aforementioned lubricants anyway. These are usually painted on with a brush, hence it becomes rather time consuming.

        If budget is a concern, the second hand market might be an option. Maybe have a search on ebay,etc for 'Gateron switches'. Brand new, these work out to be about 50 cents per switch. Assuming you have a full size keyboard, you'll need about 105 switches.

  •  

    If all is grease-free, a minuscule puff of graphite should keep it smooth and oil/gunk-free.

    •  

      Thanks for the tip :), any recommendations on a Graphite powder ?

  •  

    I think what you could probably use, if you have access to them, is ultrasonic cleaner. You'd still need to pull the switches apart (I am not sure whether you can use the ultrasonic cleaner without pulling the switch apart), but it'd give the switches thorough clean.

    I don't think you absolutely need to lube, especially if your keyboard switch is a clicky one. At least from what I've heard (and partially from what I have tried), it's really hard to make them all click the same (some will lose their clicky-ness completely due to lube, some might click a little all over the place basically) and even if you manage to have them feel all the same, it does reduce the clicky sounds and feel at the very least.

    Switches, you could probably get them from China, or somewhere like https://www.switchkeys.com.au/, https://dailyclack.com/, https://customkbd.com/. I am sure there are more options out there.

    Lube, if you are not willing to fork out heaps of time and money, I think spray lubing does reasonably well (at least it takes far less time and far less money). As long as you get a silicone oil based one (so something that doesn't conduct electricity that's also safe for plastic) that doesn't have solvents that are detrimental to keyboard switches. People have mentioned that it can cause double click issues (which I guess is from the oil getting onto the co ntact), but I think since you can solder them off, you can easily fix that by cleaning the switch by opening it up.