Yes, you can wash your keyboard in the dishwasher…

… but it’s really not recommended by the manufacturers.

You know that a geek story has really caught the public’s attention when it shows up on NPR. That’s where I first heard about how the idea of washing your computer keyboard in your dishwasher was all the rage on the Internets. Apparently it all started with an entry by Scott Moschella over at Plastic Bugs in which he details how he washed his keyboard in his dishwasher with no apparent ill effects that he published back on May 29th. Today NPR was all over the story like butter on bread:

I ran the experiment one night. I put the keyboard on the top rack, cord and all, key-side down. I used a little soap, and hit “normal wash.” (I didn’t want to pots ‘n’ pans it.)

I was encouraged to do this by Scott Moschella, a computer guy who runs a blog called Plastic Bugs.

“I think now when you type ‘keyboard’ and ‘dishwasher’ into Google, my site comes up as one of the first results,” Moschella says. “Clearly, you know, all it takes is one geek to do something stupid, and you’ve got a whole bunch of lemmings who are willing to jump off a cliff with you.”

I was just hoping my keyboard wouldn’t have to be replaced. After its ordeal in the dishwasher, I let it air dry for a week. Then I plugged it in and started to type. I tested the space bar, the return key, all the numbers and letters. It seemed perfect.

Now I’ve not seen this pop up on any of the blogs that I read regularly, but I’m not sure what the big deal is. I’ve washed more than one keyboard in my time, but with a big difference: I dismantled mine first and just washed the shell and the keys. The electronic bits I took a can of compressed air to and then wiped down with some cleaning wipes to help kill off the bugs. This is a bit more work, but it pretty much insures your keyboard will work properly once you’re done. Assuming, of course, that you can reassemble it properly. The manufacturers say that even that is more work than is required as they just recommend wiping it down with the wipes and being done with it.

Since this story started popping up in the news media I’ve had one or two emails asking me if I’d ever heard of such a thing and, yes, I do know a couple of guys who have just tossed their keyboards into the dishwasher in the same manner Moschella describes and still had a working keyboard when they were done, but they report that you can only do this a few times before your keyboard will crap out. In short, I wouldn’t recommend it as a regular thing to do unless you’re not that concerned about whether or not it survives the ordeal.