Can you still fix a keyboard with water damage?

Spilling liquid on your keyboard can be a frustrating and potentially expensive accident. However, before you run out to buy a new keyboard, it’s worth exploring whether you can salvage the one you have. In many cases, you can fix a keyboard after water damage through cleaning, drying out components, and replacing any corroded parts. With some time and effort, you may be able to get your keyboard working again.

What causes the damage when liquid is spilled on a keyboard?

When liquid is spilled on a keyboard, it can cause issues in a few different ways:

  • Short circuits – The liquid can cause short circuits in the keyboard’s internal components and circuitry. This disrupts the flow of electricity needed for the keyboard to function.
  • Corrosion – Liquids like water, coffee, juice, etc can corrode and oxidize the contacts and circuits in the keyboard over time. This leads to degradation and component failure.
  • Residue buildup – Sugary liquids like soda and juice leave sticky residue as they dry. This buildup can prevent keycaps and switches from functioning properly.
  • Interference with mechanics – Liquids can interfere with the mechanical components in a keyboard, like springs and stabilizers, preventing keys from compressing or returning properly.

The extent of the damage depends on the type and amount of liquid spilled and how quickly it is addressed. The faster you can dry out and clean your keyboard after a spill, the better chance you have of salvaging it.

How to clean your keyboard after water damage

If liquid has recently been spilled on your keyboard, your first step should be to clean it as thoroughly as possible. Here are some tips for cleaning up a liquid spill on a keyboard:

  • Disconnect the keyboard – Unplug the keyboard from your computer to prevent further damage to components while you clean.
  • Drain excess liquid – Hold the keyboard upside down to allow any collected liquid to drain out through openings.
  • Dab up spills – Use a clean, dry towel to gently dab up any standing liquid on the keyboard’s surface.
  • Use isopropyl alcohol – Dampen another clean towel with isopropyl alcohol and gently wipe down the keyboard to remove traces of sticky residue or contaminants left by the spill.
  • Air dry – Allow the keyboard to completely air dry before attempting to reconnect and use it again. This can take 24 hours or longer depending on the amount of liquid spilled.
  • Remove keycaps – Use a keycap puller tool to remove keycaps and clean debris or sticky residue from the switches underneath.

Take care not to get any liquids inside the keyboard during the cleaning process. Work over a towel in case more liquid drips out of the keyboard while cleaning.

How to dry out your keyboard after water damage

After cleaning up any visible liquid, it’s a good idea to thoroughly dry out your keyboard to prevent issues from hidden moisture inside. Here are some tips for drying out a keyboard after water damage:

  • Leave it unplugged – Keep the keyboard disconnected from power while drying, as you do not want to risk short circuiting while there is still moisture inside.
  • Air dry – Allow the keyboard to completely air dry in a dry indoor environment for at least 24 hours before reconnecting.
  • Use desiccant packs – Place moisture absorbing desiccant packs around and inside the keyboard to actively pull out lingering moisture.
  • Try a dehumidifier – Run a dehumidifier near the drying keyboard to actively remove moisture from the air.
  • Use compressed air – Use short bursts of compressed air to help clear any collected moisture from inside the keyboard’s case and around components.
  • Add heat – Use a hair dryer on a low setting to gently warm the keyboard, helping evaporate any moisture. Avoid high heat.

Take your time with the drying process and allow all moisture to fully evaporate before attempting to use the keyboard again. Rushing the process risks short circuiting.

Checking for permanent water damage

After thoroughly cleaning and drying your keyboard, you’ll want to check for any permanent damage before considering it fixed. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Key switch issues – Test each key to determine if any switches feel different or fail to work at all. Damaged switches may feel “mushy” or not produce characters.
  • Connection problems – When reconnected to your computer, does the keyboard have any connection issues, like certain keys not registering?
  • Visual corrosion – Inspect the keyboard’s circuit board and electrical components for any visible corrosion, oxidation, or residual gunk.
  • Use keyboard tester – Use an online keyboard tester tool to methodically test that each key is functioning properly.
  • Backlight or RGB issues – If your keyboard has backlighting, test if lighting is uniform across all keys.

If testing reveals permanent damage like switch or connection failures that cleaning did not fix, the keyboard may need component level repair or replacement.

How to repair water damaged components

If testing identifies damaged switches, connectors, or corroded traces on the circuit board, it is sometimes possible to repair or replace individual components if you have the skills:

  • Replace switches – Switches can be desoldered and replaced with new compatible switches.
  • Clean connectors – Use isopropyl alcohol and compressed air to thoroughly clean oxidation from electrical connectors.
  • Reflow solder joints – Use a soldering iron to re-melt and reflow any questionable solder joints and reconnect broken traces.
  • Scrub corrosion – Use fiberglass pen to gently scrub away corrosion from contacts.
  • Replace controller – In some cases it may be easier to replace the entire keyboard controller board rather than repairing individual components.

Component level repairs require soldering skills and keyboard knowledge. In some cases, damage cannot be reversed and replacement parts are no longer available for that particular keyboard model.

Tips for preventing keyboard liquid damage

To avoid having to repair water damaged keyboards in the future, keep these prevention tips in mind:

  • Avoid eating or drinking around your keyboard.
  • Install a keyboard cover to protect from future spills.
  • Keep drinks in bottles with lids rather than open cups.
  • Position your keyboard away from the edge of your desk.
  • Quickly wipe up minor spills right away before liquid can seep in.
  • Consider investing in a spill-resistant keyboard designed to withstand moderate liquid intrusion.
  • Store loose liquids well away from your work area.
  • Keep your work area clean to avoid accidental bumps or spills.


Water damage does not necessarily mean a keyboard is done for good. In many cases you can salvage a liquid damaged keyboard with thorough cleaning and drying. Look for visible corrosion, switch damage, and connection issues to identify permanent damage. Repairing individual components is possible for those with technical skills. But prevention is the best medicine, so be mindful to keep liquids away from your keyboard in the future.