Best Eco-Friendly Ways to Clean a MacBook Air Keyboard (or any keyboard for that matter)

laptop on a desk

… because those “compressed air” cans are made of liquified greenhouse gases that are HORRIBLE for the planet.

laptop keyboard with text overlay: eco-friendly & zero-waste alternatives to 'compressed air' - clean the crumbs out of your keyboard ... without contributing to global warming

I remember the day I got my new MacBook Air – sleek, space grey, with beautiful low-profile keys in all its design glory.

Little did I know it would end up being a source of extreme frustration because of the design of its new keyboard!

They new keyboard design utilizes a “butterfly design” that allows the keys to sit with a lower profile. The problem is that it’s high enough for dust, dirt, and crumbs to slide it, but it’s just low enough that they won’t come out on their own 🙁

And I snack a lot while researching and writing up these posts…

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What’s Wrong with the Cans of Compressed Air

I remember my days working in a corporate office environment. Stockpiled in the supplies room were bottles and bottles of compressed air.

Have crumbs in your keyboard? Blow it out!

Dust on your desk? Spray it away!

I never liked the idea of using these bottles of compressed air because they always ran out so quickly and my coworkers would just toss them in the trash.

I was a tiny bit annoyed at the excessive use of these cans, but I should’ve urged a full-on boycott of the products.

Have You Ever Gone Scuba-Diving?

You see, I thought these compressed air cans were just filled with the normal air that we breathe, compressed into that metal can (somehow).

If you’ve ever gone scuba diving, you know you that the oxygen you need to breathe while underwater is held in these super heavy, thick tanks. This is because a compressed, liquefied version of the air we breathe has very high temperature and pressure requirements.

And you start to realize that this “compressed air” must actually be “compressed [something else]”.

Misleading Naming

I don’t think I’m alone in thinking compressed air is the air we breathe, compressed into a can.

I feel like I can’t even use the term ‘compressed air’ in the context of these compressed air cans without putting air-quotes around the term “compressed air”.

In reality, the “compressed air” inside the can is liquefied gases like 1,1-difluoroethane, 1,1,1-trifluoroethane, or 1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane.

The silver speck of the “compressed air” industry (I can’t call it a silver lining – there are still so many problems with the product) is that the gases, like tetrafluoroethane, used nowadays no longer deplete the ozone layer (i.e., they are considered to have zero ODP – ozone depletion level).

Some “compressed air” companies even dare to go as far in their marketing to say they are “eco-friendly” because they are ozone-safe.

Greenhouse Gases Effects

The problem is that gases used in these cans of “compressed air”, like tetrafluoroethane, are potent greenhouse gasses. Tetrafluoroethane, for example, will remain in the atmosphere, trapping heat, for 50,000 years.

That’s a long time, if you ask me.

Alternative Solutions

The good news is that you don’t need to use these compressed greenhouse gasses at all.

There is no formal “ban” on them (yet!) but you can ban them from your own life 🙂

And educate others that you see using them (they aren’t using it because they want to contribute to global warming – they just probably don’t know better).

Here are some alternatives, both for use at your office and at home.

Electronics Duster

If you’re buying a duster for your entire office use, this electronic duster is an amazing choice! If you’re trying to avoid plastic, you can also get this electronic duster in stainless steel.

If you’re buying for individual, occasional use, perhaps you don’t need something so fancy.

But then again, if you live in a dusty area or you snack a lot, I’m ALWAYS an advocate of buying the “best” that you can afford so you can buy less over your lifetime.

With a handful of different nozzle attachments, it’s also super multi-functional, whether you’re cleaning a keyboard, clearing your desk, or dusting your drawers 😀

Manual Hand Pumps

I personally use this hand pump, which is originally intended to clean camera equipment.

That’s how I stumbled upon the idea of cleaning my keyboard. I was frustrated with my MacBook Air’s keys sticking and it just happened to be right in front of me.

What do you know, it worked like a charm.

A warning though, your hand does get a relatively good workout from this!

Manual Foot Pumps

Sometimes I need to angle my laptop in such a way that I have gravity assisting me and the pump. In this case, I need one of my hands to hold the laptop and another to point the nozzle.

This is when a foot pump like this comes in handy.

Bonus is that it can pump up your other inflatables too!

Creative Alternative Uses to Household Items

When I was discussing this with others, we also brainstormed some creative solutions using things that might already be in your house. Bonus point if you don’t have to buy anything new, right?

  • Use a hairdryer on the ‘Cool’ setting – might work, but might not be strong enough
  • Basketball or bike air pump – most people have something like this lying around the house. The drawback is that, with the needle, the air blows out of a super tiny nozzle

Take Action

Now that you know “canned air’s” dirty secret, you know better than to keep using it (I hope).

If you’re looking for more ways to “green” up your office space, perhaps you can turn your attention to wasteful coffee pods – here’s how to “green” them up!

I hope that you’ll also share this information with your friends, family, and co-workers so we can stop unnecessarily adding super powerful greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere when there are so many great alternatives.

laptop keyboard with text overlay: eco-friendly & zero-waste alternatives to 'compressed air' - clean the crumbs out of your keyboard ... without contributing to global warming

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