Stuck Laptop Keys

Hi Fred, The reader comment about "washing" computer parts reminded me of something I’d like to correct, but don’t know how: I have an old company laptop that I often take home with me. It’s not really needed by anyone, so keeping it in perfect working order isn’t a priority, but it WAS in working order… until one day my 4-year-old spilled cranberry juice on it! I powered it down and let it dry out, and it still works, but the power button is really sticky now, and a few of the keys on the keyboard are sticky too. I wish I could put the whole THING in a dishwasher to clean it up, but I think that might turn out to be an unwise choice! Will I have to disassemble the whole machine to clean those things up, or is there a magic trick I can perform to un-stick my stickeys? Michael Jones

If you’re in a "nothing to lose" scenario, here’s what I’d suggest:

Make a full backup, as best you can.

Remove all batteries from the system, including the coin-type CMOS/clock battery, if you can get at it. Put the covers back on, leaving the batteries removed.

Buy a jug of distilled water and a new (or very thoroughly cleaned) pump-grip spray bottle. Fill the sprayer with distilled water.

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Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.