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Cleaning Glue Out Of Mechanical Keyboard Switches

Someone I know got their first mechanical keyboard a couple years ago.  It was a Redragon K552 TKL, the one with blue switches, it's pretty common.  I didn't ask for all the details but essentially his son ended up trying to glue down his keycaps to his key switches...  Most of the switches are still okay, but a solid 15-20 of of them no longer function correctly because of glue.  He was going to throw it away but I offered to take it since I figured at the very least I could harvest some keycaps off of it.  However, I don't currently own a keyboard with blue switches or a TKL keyboard since I love my number pads.  My desk feels a little cramped sometimes and I'd love to have a TKL option to whip out, so I decided I wanted to fix it.  Sadly, this keyboard like many others doesn't have user swappable switches, so it seems as though my only option is to clean them.

 

I saw the LTT video saying that you could put your keyboard in a dishwasher if you took the keycaps off and I would be willing to try that as a last resort, however I'd like to try some other options first as I'm concerned that the heat will melt the glue back in to a liquid and cause further damage.  Does anyone have any other suggestions for cleaning the glue out?  I'd considered alcohol, but I'm not sure what effect that would have on the internals of the switches.  Thanks!

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Absolutely not worth it, you would have to desolder all the switches, open all them, clean them thoroughly, likely have to lube them, close them all up, solder everything back together, only to have shitty switches on a very mediocre keyboard.

 

 

Sorry, but I'd recommend to just throw it out or something.

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Depending on what glue was used you could try soaking the keyboard in a solvent that will destroy it. There's a chance that this will also destroy the keyboard, but this is probably your best bet of recovering it.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

 

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8 minutes ago, AdvocateOfNyx said:

I'd considered alcohol, but I'm not sure what effect that would have on the internals of the switches.  Thanks!

Used isopropyl the other day to clean some spilled coffee 😅 out of my Corsair Strafe. Worked great.

 

Dishwasher probably won't do it.

 

You will need a lot of alcohol to undo the glue I think....

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Do you know what kind of glue was used?

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Just now, narrdarr said:

Do you know what kind of glue was used?

Yeah, I asked just to make sure it wasn't superglue or anything.  It was just normal Elmer's glue.

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1 minute ago, HairlessMonkeyBoy said:

Used isopropyl the other day to clean some spilled coffee 😅 out of my Corsair Strafe. Worked great.

 

Dishwasher probably won't do it.

 

You will need a lot of alcohol to undo the glue I think....

Alcohol was the most common result online so I figured it might do the trick but didn't know what exactly was appropriate to use.  What kind of alcohol did you use?

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5 minutes ago, kelvinhall05 said:

Absolutely not worth it, you would have to desolder all the switches, open all them, clean them thoroughly, likely have to lube them, close them all up, solder everything back together, only to have shitty switches on a very mediocre keyboard.

 

 

Sorry, but I'd recommend to just throw it out or something.

Yeah, I mean if I'm going to throw it out anyways I would almost certainly try some alcohol or the dishwasher first.  Worst case scenario the trash becomes even more trash.  I was just wondering if anyone had any specific suggestions.

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3 minutes ago, BobVonBob said:

Depending on what glue was used you could try soaking the keyboard in a solvent that will destroy it. There's a chance that this will also destroy the keyboard, but this is probably your best bet of recovering it.

It is just normal Elmer's glue.  Would standard isopropyl alcohol do the trick?

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Just now, AdvocateOfNyx said:

Yeah, I mean if I'm going to throw it out anyways I would almost certainly try some alcohol or the dishwasher first.  Worst case scenario the trash becomes even more trash.  I was just wondering if anyone had any specific suggestions.

You are going to have to clean the switches from the inside. To clean them from the inside, you have to open the switches, To open the switches, you have to desolder them.

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1 minute ago, kelvinhall05 said:

You are going to have to clean the switches from the inside. To clean them from the inside, you have to open the switches, To open the switches, you have to desolder them.

Hmm, I see.  I might give it a shot anyways as I've seen a couple people claim to have success online, even if the odds are slim.  You're absolutely right though, desoldering them is not worth it at all.

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4 minutes ago, AdvocateOfNyx said:

It is just normal Elmer's glue.  Would standard isopropyl alcohol do the trick?

Elmer's white glue is water soluble. Give it a bath in warm water and move the switches around, leave it there for a while, then let it dry out for something like a day. Don't get your hopes up, but there's definitely a chance it's recoverable.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

 

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1 minute ago, AdvocateOfNyx said:

What kind of alcohol did you use?

90(ish)% Isopropyl. I put some into a bottle I had with a small orifice, and kept pouring it slowly into the affected keys while actuating them. Then I left the keyboard to dry for a while. Isopropyl can damage some plastics I think, but in my case there was no harm done, and I'm typing on the keyboard now.

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5 minutes ago, AdvocateOfNyx said:

It is just normal Elmer's glue.  Would standard isopropyl alcohol do the trick?

IA will work. So should steam.

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1 minute ago, BobVonBob said:

Elmer's white glue is water soluble. Give it a bath in warm water and move the switches around, leave it there for a while, then let it dry out for something like a day. Don't get your hopes up, but there's definitely a chance it's recoverable.

When you say a bath in warm water, do you mean like actually submerge the keyboard in water?  I might misunderstand, but as far as I know it isn't usually a good idea to put something electronic in water as it's able to cause damage while alcohol is much less likely to cause damage to the circuit board inside of the keyboard.

 

If I do submerge it in water, won't that essentially kill the board inside?

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Just now, AdvocateOfNyx said:

won't that essentially kill the board inside?

No. It's only bad when the board is powered up. As long as you wait for it to dry thoroughly you should be fine.

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4 minutes ago, BobVonBob said:

Elmer's white glue is water soluble. Give it a bath in warm water and move the switches around, leave it there for a while, then let it dry out for something like a day. Don't get your hopes up, but there's definitely a chance it's recoverable.

This will likely make it even worse. Have fun trying to thoroughly rinse out the insides of the switches and dry them out.

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i use arch btw

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Just now, kelvinhall05 said:

This will likely make it even worse. Have fun trying to thoroughly rinse out the insides of the switches and dry them out.

It's already trashed, you can't break it more. If it doesn't work they're back where they were, if it does then that's a keyboard they don't need to buy.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

 

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Just now, BobVonBob said:

It's already trashed, you can't break it more. If it doesn't work they're back where they were, if it does then that's a keyboard they don't need to buy.

Yes, you can break it more, and having water that can't easily air dry inside the switches with contacts inside is going to destroy this board even more.

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i use arch btw

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Just now, kelvinhall05 said:

Yes, you can break it more, and having water that can't easily air dry inside the switches with contacts inside is going to destroy this board even more.

Then provide another fix. At least there's a chance this will work, "Just give up and throw it out" has no chance of resulting in a working keyboard, and if it's broken more who cares? It was already broken anyway.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

 

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1 minute ago, BobVonBob said:

Then provide another fix. At least there's a chance this will work, "Just give up and throw it out" has no chance of resulting in a working keyboard, and if it's broken more who cares? It was already broken anyway.

If OP is going to try and fix it (not worth it), he should do it the proper way and desolder all the switches that need cleaning, open them, clean them manually by hand or in an ultrasonic cleaner, reassemble them, and resolder them. Soaking the entire keyboard in water is not going to work, the water inside the switches will not evaporate, and if somehow it does manage to evaporate, it will leave behind residue from the glue and won't fix his issue at all.

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The board probably has outemu blues in it, they aren't worth cleaning. Just buy a set of switches that you like, desolder the old and solder in the new switches and enjoy a like new board.

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On 6/18/2020 at 2:59 PM, HairlessMonkeyBoy said:

90(ish)% Isopropyl. I put some into a bottle I had with a small orifice, and kept pouring it slowly into the affected keys while actuating them. Then I left the keyboard to dry for a while. Isopropyl can damage some plastics I think, but in my case there was no harm done, and I'm typing on the keyboard now.

70% isopropyl (what I had on hand) did the trick for me!  It look three sessions of pouring a small amount in to the switch and blowing it out with compressed air.  Some of them feel almost normal but have a dampened sound, and others feel a little weird, however all keys now work properly!  I'm sure if I cared I could make some of them better, but every letter and common modifier keys feel absolutely perfect!  Thanks so much.  

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5 minutes ago, AdvocateOfNyx said:

I'm sure if I cared I could make some of them better

My right shift is still a bit mooshy, too. But considering I literally never use it...

 

I'm really glad you got it working! 😁

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On 6/18/2020 at 2:41 PM, AdvocateOfNyx said:

Sadly, this keyboard like many others doesn't have user swappable switches, so it seems as though my only option is to clean them.

some newer version does have swapable switches ... i have one ... and no I didn't had to desolder them ... those outemu have some sleeves on the pins, the sleeves are soldered...  They are ridiculously hard to pull out and I did manage to break some little plastic tab meant to retain the switch in place as if those would need it.  I had to use a small knife to lift one side of the switch while pressing on the retaining tab and then the other side.  I didn't have a switch pullet when I did that ... and even with the switch puller I often had to lift the switch with the knife cause those pins are soooo thigh in the sleeves. 

 

I put those switches on my gmmk barebone and use them while waiting for my kailh to arrive and then I put the outemu back on the redragon and it's good as new. 

 

Note that the redragon k552 is only compatible with outemu switches.

 

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20200517_200936.thumb.jpg.6d127c44f28307f05634fab2935da689.jpg

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