How to lubricate the switches?

One of the biggest strengths of a mechanical keyboard is the sound and overall feel it provides, aside from the typing experience, of course. Compared to a cheaper membrane keyboard, using a mechanical keyboard with just about any switch is a whole different experience.

That said, mechanical keyboard enthusiasts often customize their keyboards down to the exact switches they use. Switches can also be modified and lubricated to control their sound and feel.

In this article, we look at how you can lubricate light switches, the supplies you need, and why you would want to do it in the first place.

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Most standard mechanical keyboards come with factory-lubricated switches that will last the life of the keyboard itself. Many custom switches are also factory lubricated.

Lubricating a switch itself is quite a time-consuming process considering that you have to disassemble each switch on your keyboard and put them back together after lubricating. If your keyboard isn’t hot-swappable, the whole process becomes a lot more risky because you have to unsolder the switches on the keyboard and solder them back on. Any mistake during this process can kill the switch or the whole keyboard.

Lube switches can be very beneficial. | Source: Razer

Considering everything, lubrication switches also have some advantages. It is one of the most popular aftermarket mods among keyboard enthusiasts. The process can make your switches sound and feel better by eliminating any internal friction, scratches, or rattles. If you play on your keyboard, the process is even more efficient.

There are hundreds of different types of mechanical switches on the market and not all switches require lubrication. Broadly speaking, mechanical switches can be divided into three categories:

It is recommended that you do not lubricate click switches, as this may accidentally make your switches quieter, and even if not, it may cause inconsistent sounds between switches.

Read also : Optical vs Mechanical Switches

You will need the following tools to get started

  • Lubricant: there are many options available for these, all producing different end results. If it’s your first time, you can try the Krytox 105. If you’re looking to tone down the Switch sound, the Krytox 205G is also a good choice. Overall, make the decision based on what you want your switches to be in the end.
  • Brush: You need a small brush to apply the lubricant to your switches. We recommend using a 5mm brush.
  • Soldering Iron/Switch Puller: If you have a hot-swappable keyboard, you need a switch puller to remove the switches. If not, prepare your soldering iron to remove the switches from the main board.
  • Flat head screwdriver: To remove switches.
  • Tweezers: For handling small parts such as springs and rods.

There is no set method for lubricating switches; everyone does it according to their preference. However, there is a general process you should follow.

Remove keys and switches

The first step in the process is to remove all keycaps and switches from your board. Removing at least the key caps should be easy as you have to remove the key caps using a puller.

How to clean your mechanical keyboard?  In 4 easy steps

Once you’re done, depending on whether your keyboard is hot-swappable or not, you can either remove the switches using a switch puller or open your keyboard and use a soldering iron to remove the switches.

Opening of switches

Then you need to open individual switches to access the parts you need to lubricate. Each switch contains the following four parts:

  • Upper case
  • Stem
  • Spring
  • Bottom case
The inside of a switch. | Source: Daniel Beardsmore, via Wikimedia Commons

The switches can be separated using a specialized tool which you can find online or you can simply use a flat head screwdriver to pull the side tabs to loosen the top and bottom housings. Keep in mind that different switches have different numbers and locations of tabs, so be careful not to break anything.

Internal lubrication

Once inside the switch, scoop a small amount of lubricant from the brush and apply it to the upper and lower housings. Be careful to apply lubricant to the floor, outside and inside of the cylinder and where the rails touch the rod when it comes to the bottom case. For the top case, you need to apply lube where the stem rails rub.

On the rods, apply lubricant to the spring contact area, the rails, and if working on linear switches, the feet as well. As for the spring, you can either lubricate it as a whole with a brush, or pick them all up and put them in a sachet of lubricant.

put it all together

Once you’re done lubricating everything, the last step is pretty easy. You just need to rearrange the switch and push it down on the top and bottom housings to fully close it. Once you’re done assembling your switches, put them back in the keyboard or carefully age them if you don’t have a hot-swappable keyboard.

Don’t forget to test all the keys once you have everything assembled.

As you can probably tell, lubricating the switches is a lot of work, even if you have a hot-swappable keyboard. However, depending on the end result you are looking for, it may be worth it.

However, not all switches require lubrication, so pay attention to the type, brand, and model of switch you have in your keyboard before doing all of this work.

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