What Lube to Use for Mechanical Keyboard Switches?

Mechanical keyboards – beloved by gamers and typing enthusiasts alike – aren’t just about the feel of the keys under your fingers or the satisfying clickety-clack sound that’s music to our ears. To reach the apex of keyboard nirvana, one has to get their hands dirty, or rather, get their switches lubed.

The Lowdown on Lubricants

First off, let’s get to know the “smooth operators” – the lubricants. There’s no one-size-fits-all here, each lube type brings a unique quality to your mechanical keyboard experience.

Silicone-based lubricants are the popular kids on the block. They provide a nice balance between smoothness and longevity, like a well-oiled machine…err, keyboard, which is why they’ve become the go-to for many keyboard enthusiasts.

PTFE lubricants, the high-flyers of the group, are a touch more expensive but offer a smoother feel than their silicone-based counterparts. Think of them as the silk of lubes, providing an experience that’s smooth as butter.

Looking for a cost-effective choice? Graphite lubes might just be your cup of tea. They’re like your reliable everyday car – they won’t let you down. They balance smoothness and longevity without making a dent in your wallet. However, they do have one quirk – they tend to invite dust over time. But hey, a quick cleanup is hardly a deal-breaker, right?

Krytox lubes are the Ferraris of the lubricant world – premium, but worth it. They offer an incredibly smooth feel, unparalleled durability, and are champions at preventing dust buildup.

Knowing Your Switches

Now, before you start lubing up those switches, you need to know what you’re dealing with. Different types of switches call for different types of lubes. Tactile switches prefer a thinner or lower viscosity lube, while linear switches get along with thicker or higher viscosity lubes. Clicky switches, though, are like the cats of the keyboard world – they do not appreciate being lubed. You could end up unintentionally converting them to quieter tactile switches, with inconsistent sound between each one.

Special mention to Kailh BOX Switches, which cannot be taken apart and lubed. Doing so may cause leaks, leading to keyboard damage.

Getting Down To Business

For your lubing expedition, arm yourself with these tools: lube, brush, switch opener or a small flathead screwdriver, soldering/de-soldering equipment, tweezers, and a small workstation.

Engaging in the lubing process is almost like embracing mindfulness. Picture this: it’s just you, your mechanical keyboard, and the soothing rhythm of the process. For those who appreciate the journey as much as the destination, you can find a thorough step-by-step guide on how to lube your keyboard switches to help you along.

But the CliffsNotes version involves these steps:

  1. Remove the switch from the keyboard (hot-swappable keyboards make this easy).
  2. Pull apart the switch with a switch opener or small flathead screwdriver.
  3. Lube the lower housing, spring, stem, and upper housing (Avoid the metal leaf in the lower housing and the legs on tactile switch stems).
  4. It’s time to reassemble and invite the switch back home, into your keyboard.
  5. Fire up a quick test drive to ensure all keys are purring like well-tuned engines.
  6. Accidents happen, and lubing can be a messy affair. No worries! Just grab some isopropyl alcohol and sweep away the evidence.

For those with soldered switches or those unversed in the art of de-soldering, you can still lube your switches. While it may be a bit messier and less effective, lubing without de-soldering is feasible, as explained in this guide.

When ToLube Your Switches

Just like how you wouldn’t want to overwater your plants, you also wouldn’t want to overlube your switches. Too much lubricant can lead to a sticky or malfunctioning switch over time. But how often should you lube your switches? Well, it’s all about striking a balance and it largely depends on usage. For more guidance on when to relube, check out this article.

The Lube Market: A Cautionary Tale

Pre-lubed switches are available in the market for those who prefer convenience. However, be cautious about scams. Like that super rare mount in your favorite MMORPG that turned out to be a dud, some sellers on platforms like /r/mechmarket might not be as reliable as they claim. Buyer beware!

The Benefits of Lubing

Why go through all this effort to lube your switches? Because your mechanical keyboard deserves it. Lubing reduces wear and tear on the components, minimizes friction, and enhances your keyboard’s performance. It’s like giving your keyboard a spa day – it’ll come out feeling and sounding better than ever.

To summarize, lubing your mechanical keyboard switches isn’t just about maintenance; it’s about enhancing your experience, whether you’re leveling up your character in an RPG, writing the next great American novel, or coding your way to the next breakthrough in AI technology. So take that brush, open that lube, and let’s make those switches smoother and that sound even more satisfying. Because at the end of the day, it’s the small things that make a big difference.

Remember, keep your switches lubed, your keys clean, and your typing experience will remain a dream! Happy lubing!