File this one under the "stupid shit I do when I'm home alone at night" category. I noticed today that the keyboard attached to my desktop was getting particularly skanky. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say it was starting to get more gross than any toilet. It looked like there was crap caked around every single key.
This is a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, and it's a model that's closing in on a decade old. I bought two for my upstairs office this year, one for my work laptop, and one for my personal laptop, but the one for my desktop is at least five years old, probably older. I think I bought it when I got my Mac Pro in 2006. It's super crusty, but aside from being a little soft in the keys, totally functional.
So what to do with something so gross, but useful? I fret over electronic waste, and the last thing I wanted to do was throw it away. It's not the money, as they aren't expensive, it's just I don't want it in a landfill. I also don't want to take a brush or a swab to it, and waste a lot of time on it.
As it turns out, the Google said all kinds of people have successfully washed their keyboards in the dishwasher, sans the drying part, and letting it drip dry. That sounded logical enough, so I took it a step further and pulled the millions of screws out of it, and found that they keys were held captive in the upper half of the keyboard, without any of the electronics.
I put the crusty upper half in the dishwasher, keys face down, and let it do its thing. The bottom half has what appears to be a silicone membrane to make the squishy part over the sheet of tiny contacts. When the wash cycle was done, I pulled it out and shook as much water out as possible, then took the hair dryer to it to blow out the rest.
I reassembled, plugged it in, and there it was... obviously worn but not gross. Perhaps I'll get another few years out of it.