Don’t be the guy that brings your mechanical keyboard into work and start click-clacking away. Unless they want you to do that, then you go and get the loudest switches you can get. But for some others out there, we’ll try and be quieter.
Question and Answer
So I went and got myself a keyboard with Cherry MX blue switches thinking the clicks were super cool. I’ve been streaming on Twitch for several months now and my audience keeps complaining that although I have a nice voice and good sound, my keyboard is so darn loud that it’s getting annoying for them. What are some things that I can do, other than buy a new keyboard with new switches, to quiet down my keyboard just a tad?
This is a tough situation because Cherry MX blue switches were born into this world to be clicky. There are some ways where we can make them slightly quieter but, in the end, the blues will still make the click sound when they actuate. That mechanism is built into the switch. In another situation, if you were to try to make browns or reds quieter, it would be much more effective. But let’s try anyways! Some strategies or techniques to make your keyboard quieter include putting rubber O-rings on the keycap stems to dampen the sound of the plastic hitting plastic, lubing your stabilizers and switches which provides a smoother feel and makes it a tad bit more quiet, adding a foam pad inside the case of the board under the PCB to reduce the echoing within the hollow body, band-aid modding the stabilizers to prevent the loud clack every time you pound that space bar, clipping your stabilizers (remove two protruding legs that hit the PCB causing noise), adding foam within the larger keys such as the space bar to prevent echo, and lubing the individual springs to get rid of the spring boing sounds. Let’s jump into each method.
Different Techniques to Make your Keyboard More Quiet
Well now that we know the different things we can do, it’s time to get started with each one. These are in no order; some methods are quicker than others. Combined, they will all help your keyboard be a super-spy in the cubicle of the office.
O-rings are small rubber rings that cost about $5-10 on Amazon. I personally use these O-rings for my keyboard. They currently cost $6.99 for 100 pieces.
They go around the stems of the switches under your keycaps. O-rings can come in many different colors from black, pink, blue, clear, etc. Many people choose to pick the clear ones because their keyboard has RGB lighting with see-through keycaps.
The process for this is very easy. On your keyboard, take off the keycaps using a keycap puller or a Macgyvered paper clip (I did this on my first attempt because I didn’t have one).
To save time and/or money, you do not have to do this for every single key. Do this for the keys that are most often used. For example, if you have a TKL keyboard and don’t use the function row or the insert, home, del, end, and those other buttons, you probably don’t need O-rings under them. But if you want to, all the power to you.
I did it to every single key… because I have problems like that. I’m the kind of person who organizes all my apps into very specific folders but moving on.
Place an O-ring directly around the stem of the mechanical switch. The stem is the part that looks like a + sign usually and sticks out. It’s how your keycap connects to your switch.
Repeat this process for all keys desired. Then place the keycaps back on, make sure you press a few times because it will feel stuck.
One mistake I made was that I didn’t push down all the way, so my keys appeared uneven. To make sure you got them all, look at your keyboard from a side profile. Is anything sticking out?
Now when you pull off a keycap, you’ll see that the O-ring is around the stem within the keycap instead of around the switch. It’ll stay there easily without falling out.
O-rings are dampening the hitting sound of the plastic from the keycap and the switch. It works wonders. On blue switches, the actuation click will be heard, but the sound of the plastic hitting will decrease. Definitely very helpful in making your keyboard quieter, even with the really loud switches.
Adding lube on your stabilizers reduces the amount of friction when these parts are moving. It makes the movement smoother and makes the sound more uniform and less rattling. It will also reduce squeaking and other noises that should not be there.
Essentially, the lube is filling up the space that would have been empty, space that sound could’ve travelled through but not as filled up with lube.
The following materials are needed to lube your stabilizers:
- Silicone grease (for stabilizers: Some commonly used greases for this are RS PRO Silicone Grease, Super Lube 21030 Synthetic Grease, and Krytox GL 205 Grease.
- A small paintbrush
Steps to lubing your stabilizers:
- Take off your keycaps, revealing your stabilizers and switch.
- Remove the wire from your stabilizer, if your stabilizer has a wire.
- Get a small amount of lube on your paintbrush.
- Apply the lube to places where there are moving parts, on the wire and on the stabilizers.
- Be careful of overlubing, with this, less is more.
- Place the wire back into the stabilizer by clipping it back in.
- Put a small amount of lube on the part of the wire that your kepcap will clip into.
- Lube the stem of the keycaps that go into the stabilizers where the wire will be in.
For a closeup video of this process, see down below.
Cherry stabilizers are different because there is more to lube. It is recommended to take apart the stabilizers. On the back of the PCB, there should be connections to the stabilizer that is easy to pop out.
To open the stabilizer, pop out the wire. You’ll see 5 parts, the 2 bases, 2 stems, and the wire. Lube parts that have contact with the stems using a thin layer of lube.
And there you have it. Lubed up stabilizers, go ahead, try it.
Press those long keys to your heart’s desire until you hear the sticky keys sound and think, oh no, what have I done?
But since you have your stabilizers taken out anyways, you might as well do the band-aid mod and clip your stabilizers for even more noise reduction and buttery smooth button presses.
Band-aid mod for stabilizers
A band-aid mod uses exactly what is in its name: a simple band-aid. The purpose of doing this is to silence even more the bottoming out of the stabilizers. However, some have said that this makes the keys feel mushier.
The stabilizers will hit the band aids instead of directly hitting the PCB, which produces a loud, pingy sound.
What you need:
- 1 or 2 standard-size cloth band aids, KT tape is great, or other fabric ones
- Dielectric grease
- Earwax picker, Q-tip
Steps to complete this mod:
- Get your PCB in front of you.
- Get a bandaid and cut off the rounded edges
- Cut little rectangles of the band aid with the adhesive sides.
- Tape it onto the board where your stabilizers will hit.
- Get your earwax picker and get a small amount of dielectric grease.
- Apply the grease across the band aid to change the color of the band aid (not too much.)
That’s it! Very quick and easy as well. The sounds are extremely satisfying to hear. No more rattling sounds.
The bottom of the stabilizers has protruding small legs that will hit your PCB when you bottom-out any of these keys, which can cause damage and create unnecessary additional noise. For additional graphics, Rama has a graphical guide on how to mod your stabilizers.
To do this, you will need cutting pliers, a scalpel, or a craft knife. Clipping is when you remove the protruding legs on the parts that move on the stabilizers.
First you remove the stabilizers by twisting and pulling them out. Take the stems out.
Look at the stems for the two protruding legs, clip them using your wire cutters.
This is a very quick process, and when you do this, it is recommended to do all the different stabilizer mods at the same time because you are taking out the stabilizer parts anyways.
Lubing individual switches and switch springs
Lubing the switches works a little differently than stabilizers since a different lube is used (a thinner material), but it also makes the switch smoother and dampens the sounds.
Caution: This process is very time consuming, about 1-2 hours depending on how many switches you have and how experienced you are.
For this process you will need:
- Switch opener
- Small paintbrush
- Switch lubricant
Steps to lubricating your switches:
- Take apart the switch using a switch opener.
- Dab a little bit of lubricant onto the brush.
- Lube the bottom housing on the 2 side rails. The goal is to lube any areas that come into contact with moving parts.
- Lube the center hole by inserting the brush inside.
- Then lube the top housing.
- Lube the spring by painting the ends of the springs and the middle areas as well.
- Lube the stem, rotating as you go.
- Combine the switch parts back together and place it back into your keyboard by lining up and pushing down until it snaps back into space.
It’ll take a long time, but it’s all worth it! You’ll have buttery soft keys.
Using a guide such as the YouTube video below will be helpful to see a closeup.
Adding foam under larger keys
This is usually done on the space bar, but you can do this for other keys as well. It fills up the empty space where echoes and sounds can travel through. Like sound foam’s effect on a room, this is what happens to the inside of the key.
Doing this is simple. Simply measure the length and width of the key you can insert foam in.
Using a craft knife or similar, cut out holes for the stems to poke through. Any foam will do, but I’ll link to something that you can get on Amazon.
Once you get it to the right size, simply place it within the keycap and push it back onto the switch.
All done, test it out! Yes, it could feel a little mushier.
Add a foam pad inside the case
To do this, we add a foam layer between the PCB and the case to dampen the echo from within plastic or metal cases. This is worse with aluminum cases as noise is more likely to echo.
The sound will be less loud and high pitch. The foam you use must have some compression. Using the foam that you used for your larger keys will probably suffice.
Many have also recommended using butyl rubber instead of foam for improved sound dampening qualities as well as a lower price.
To do this know the exact measurements of your case. You’re going to have to take out your keycaps, switches, the top plate if your switches are plate-mounted, and the PCB outside of the case.
Then you place the compressible foam first into the case. Next put everything back in.
BONUS: Using a desk mat to prevent noise from hitting your desk
Using a desk mat or a simple towel underneath the keyboard will reduce noise as well. Because the keyboard has some space underneath, when you type, there is movement there, which can cause additional unwanted noise.
More stores offer desk mats, but Dixie Mech has a large selection of high quality desk mats for $25 each.
They usually come with a rubber bottom and a cloth top. They will fit your keyboard and your mouse on top of it, so no need for that low-quality mouse pad your father got you from his workplace anymore.
Is that just me? It might be just me…
We looked at many ways we could make a mechanical keyboard quieter, even if the keyboard has crazy loud switches. It can still happen!
The different methods we looked at were:
- Adding O-rings onto the switch stems
- Lubing your stabilizers
- Clipping your stabilizers
- Band-aid mod for stabilizers
- Lubing switches and switch springs
- Adding foam under the PCB inside the case
- Adding foam inside the key caps of larger keys
Hopefully, after employing these many strategies, your keyboard will be workplace appropriate. Or if you’re gaming into the latest hours of the night, the people in your household won’t think that you’re annoyingly loud.
Thanks for reading, and as always, if you have comments, questions, or concerns, feel free to post them down below. If you have any other ideas for us, tell us that too.
How to Make your Keyboard Quieter! Youtube.com
Silencing Stabilizers Rama.works