Anyone who’s had a computer for an extended period of time will know how disgusting a keyboard can get. The keys tend to develop a layer of grime on top, while accumulating dust, food and hair underneath.
I got sick of looking at all the grime on the Logitech G15 I use, and decided to pull it apart and clean it in the name of curiosity. And since disassembly guides for the keyboard aren’t easy to find, I decided to post my findings here.
So, shall we begin?
Firstly, a disclaimer. I’ll take no responsibility if your keyboard no longer works after reassembly. Any screw-ups are your problem to deal with. So if you’re not confident with pulling things to bits and putting them back together again, then don’t do it on anything valuable. This guide is only here to tell you what to expect upon opening it up, how to clean the keys, and in what order to put everything back in again.
It’s also worth mentioning that this guide doesn’t show how to open up the part that houses the screen and media playback buttons. Sorry, this guide won’t really help you if that’s what you’re looking to clean.
If you’ve decided to proceed (at your own risk), then let’s get started.
What you’ll need:
- A Logitech G15 Generation 2 Keyboard, preferably past its warranty.
- A set of small screwdrivers (Flathead and Philips).
- A small brush and a cloth for cleaning.
- A few hours (unless you’re really quick).
Rule Number One
Unplug the keyboard. Don’t be like one of my high-school classmates who tried to pull the motherboard out of a computer while it was still plugged in and running.
Opening it up
Turn the keyboard over and unscrew all the screws on the back. There should be 18 of them. Don’t worry about the keys, they will not (and can not) fall out.
Don’t lose the screws. Put them somewhere safe, and count them to make sure you’ve got the right amount.
You’ll notice that the keyboard is still holding itself together. There are four catches in the sides which will need to be unclipped. To do this, gently pry open the shell with a screwdriver at the top corner of the keyboard and work downwards. Be careful not to put the screwdriver too far inside the keyboard as you pry it open. It should require a bit of wiggling and gentle force to pop each clip open.
As you open the keyboard up, be careful that you don’t stress the ribbon still holding it together.
Removing the ribbon is easy enough, but requires a bit of care. Firstly, find where the ribbon meets the the circuitboard of the bottom half of the keyboard, and locate the little black piece of plastic holding it in. Pull the little piece of plastic upwards, making sure you use the same amount of pressure on both sides. Once it comes up far enough, the ribbon should practically fall out.
Just make sure you don’t break that little black clip. I broke a clip like it in my Gen1 Nintendo DS, and it’s been causing me troubles ever since.
Now the two parts of the keyboard should be free! Give the rubber a quick brush off, and set that whole half of the keyboard aside.
Removing the silver face panel
The next step is to remove the silver panel on the face of the keyboard. This part tends to collect a lot of grime, so it’ll be easier to clean once it’s been removed.
Use a Phillips head screwdriver to remove the 19 screws that hold the faceplate on. In the photo below, they’re marked with red circles. And again, don’t worry about the keys falling out. They won’t.
Once all the screws are out, start opening the clips that hold the faceplate on. They are marked by blue rectangles in the picture above.
Remember to put the screws in a safe place, and make sure you don’t mix them with the other screws. They’re different sizes.
Now the faceplate should be free.
Now is a good time to start cleaning it. Take a moist cleaning cloth and wipe the scum off the front and edges of the faceplate. I used water on the cloth, and it only took a little bit of rubbing to remove the buildup. Take note that cleaning chemicals may have unintended side effects, such as discolouration, or outright dissolving the plastic (unlikely, but possible). If you’re going to use chemicals, test them on the underside to make sure nothing bad happens before using them on the front.
Once the faceplate is clean, set it aside. It’s time to start popping the keys out.
Removing the Keys
As you’ve probably noticed by now, the keys will need to be popped out individually if you’re going to have a proper chance at cleaning them. To do it, you’ll need two small flathead screwdrivers (or similarly shaped objects). Take the screwdrivers and use them to push the clips on the keys inwards and downwards. Make sure you catch them as they come out.
The only key I had difficulty with was the Space Key – It had four clips instead of two. I can’t give much advice on how to get it out, aside from being patient and persistent.
Also, you may notice that wider keys like the Shift and Enter keys have pieces of wire under them. They do not get in your way when taking the keys out, but when you put the keys back in, you’ll have to put the wire in place first.
If you keep at it, you’ll have all the keys out soon enough. Once they’re all free, it’s time to give them a much needed wash.
Cleaning the keys
The first thing I cleaned was not the keys, but the board itself. You’ve probably noticed by now that this is where all the junk in your keyboard hides. Take a brush and wipe all the junk out. Once it’s cleaned to your level of satisfaction, wipe all the exterior surfaces with the moist cloth. With a little bit of rubbing, all the caked on gunk should come right off.
Once the “board” is clean, set it aside with the other main parts. It’s time to work on the keys.
Cleaning the keys is pretty much the same process as cleaning every other part of the keyboard. Just wipe the top and sides of the keys with a moist cloth. It’s also worth checking under the keys to see if there’s any hair or bits of junk under them. If there is, just brush it out.
You may notice that certain parts of the keys remain rough even after rubbing at them with the cloth. I suspect that this is all that remains of the original matte finish of the keys. In other words, it’s where the keys haven’t been polished smooth over time by your fingers.
After I’d finished cleaning each key, I laid them all out on position on the desk. I found this pretty helpful when it came to putting it back together again…which coincidentally is the next thing to do, if you’re happy with how you’ve cleaned it out.
Putting it back together again:
Putting the keyboard back together is relatively simple. It’s basically like pulling it apart – except backwards.
- Push all the keys back into the keyboard. I’d recommend putting in any keys with wire backings first. Any keys that stick or jam are probably in the wrong place.
- Clip the silver face panel onto the keyboard, then screw it back on. Don’t forget about the Logitech plate. Click here if you can’t remember where to put the screws. Make sure the faceplate doesn’t jam any of the keys.
- Put the ribbon back into its socket, and push the small black clip down to fasten it in place.
- Make sure that the Windows Key lock switch is in the right place. You’ll find out soon enough if it isn’t.
- Fold the keyboard closed and squeeze the 4 clips at the sides of the keyboard to snap them shut.
- Put in all 18 screws. Look here if you need a reminder where to put them.
Well, that was a bit of an ordeal, but the result is definitely worth it.
This is the first guide of any sort that I’ve put online, so let me know what you thought of it. Likewise, if I missed anything, or inaccurately said something, let me know in the comments so I can fix it. Anyways, thanks for reading, and enjoy your clean new keyboard!