Why do we lube switches?
Lubricating surfaces that touch and move along each other can reduce friction and make the switches glide smoother. This can be a good thing or a not as good thing. Of course, linear switches will work even better with lubricants since there is no point where there is a click or tactile bump.
Clicky and tactile switches can be lubed as well, which can improve feel and sound, but be cautious to where and how much lubricant you are applying since this can affect the tactile bumps that you all and myself love so dearly.
Lubing switches can decrease sounds from the switch housing, stem, and spring if you choose to lube your springs too.
For some awesome guides on how to actually lube your switches, check out Top Clack’s article, TaeHa Types’ video, and cijanzen’s video. In addition, here is a great picture guide on exactly where to lube on the housing, stem, and spring. And another great picture guide on how to lube switches.
First, let’s talk lubricants. Which one to use? Which one to avoid?
When we look at lubricants, we think of them as two categories, oil or grease. Some greases are silicone or dielectric grease. The primary difference between the two comes from the application of them. Grease can only be brushed on each individual part: housing, stem, and spring.
With oils, you have the option of mass-lubing springs all in a bag while brushing the housing and stem. So, it saves you a little bit of time. It’s already a time-consuming process, but we want to do what we can to make it quicker.
What is viscosity, since we hear it so much?
Higher viscosity means the more dense and thicker it will be. Honey has a higher viscosity than juice.
Lower viscosity lubricants are better for tactile and clicky switches. Higher viscosity lubricants are better for linear switches.
Cijanzen, from KeebTalk, explains that lubing switches is like finishing wood, “The best analogy I can think of is comparing finishing wood with an oil coat or painting over it. The oil finish will fill minor imperfections in the wood and perhaps give it a glossy or matte finish but in general it’s about highlighting the underlying qualities of the wood. This is opposite to paint whose purpose is to entirely cover the imperfections in the wood, masking its original qualities but perhaps making the wood useable whereas perhaps it was not before.”
For tactile and clicky switches, good viscosities are at 3203 or 203. For linear switches, a 205 of 206 may be better. Based on cijanzen’s opinion, the 3204, 204, and 104 can be used for either linear or tactile switches.
Tip: When first starting out, use less. It’s easier to add more lube if needed than to take off lube that’s already been applied.
Stabilizers and switches work different, and therefore, they need different lubes. As we’ve seen before, stabilizers need a thick and viscous grease, not a thin one.
Examples of thick lubricants include dielectric grease, silicone grease, lithium grease, and extreme fluoro by Finish Line.
Most of these are cheap and widely available in stores such as Home Depot or Lowes. They’re safe for use on plastic, and they are nonconductive. As a stabilizer lube, these are thick and great. For switches, these are not good due to their thickness.
When you’re lubing stabilizers, make sure to use a small amount, equivalent to the size of a grain of rice for each point of contact you are lubing.
So now we know what to use for stabilizers and what NOT to use for switches. Let’s move on.
Switches require a thinner lube such as oil or a light spray, now that doesn’t mean getting your can of canola oil spray from the kitchen.
There are so many keyboard lubes to look at. We’ll first look at some general lubricants that can be bought on Amazon or at local shops.
CAIG Laboratories DeoxIT
First, let’s look at CAIG Labs DeoxIT lubricant, priced at around $17 on Amazon. The application of this is a spray-on. It can be a little messy, so make sure you have a workstation that is ready to get sprayed.
It is completely safe to use on ABS and PBT plastics, however, like other lubes, there is a downside. That downside is that there can be an increase in dirt and dust buildup. As a lubricant, this works fine. However, to be more precise in lubing the parts that actually need to be lubed, using a oil lube with a paintbrush may be a better option.
This is much faster and convenient than individually taking each switch apart, painting the contact points and springs, and then putting it back together.
If you do find other lubricating sprays that you would like to use, check on a small piece of plastic that you won’t value to do a trial on to be sure it won’t ruin your keycaps.
CAIG DeoxIT FaderLube
Another one of CAIG Laboratories formulas, the Faderlube which comes in a liquid form with a need dropper, lets you lube at a higher precision. It is formerly known as CaiLube MCL. It is a bit more expensive at $24.95 currently on Amazon.
From an online forum, they tested that this lubricant was safe for plastic. HOWEVER, they lost the click of their Cherry MX Blue switches when they applied this lubricant to it since it is a thicker oil (like machine oil rather than olive oil).
It tested fine for Cherry MX Red switches since there is no click or tactile point on those switches.
A member within the mechanical keyboard community, /u/uln, wanted to test and provide answers for a cheaper option than expensive Krytox Lubricants.
The conclusion was that Krytox GPL-105 could be substituted by Super Lube Oil with Syncolon and that GPL-205 (a common one) could be substituted by Super Lube Multi-Purpose Grease. They are both plastic safe and contain the same ingredients as the Krytox lubes.
He emailed Super Lube, and they emailed him back, saying that you can combine both the Oil and the Multi-Purpose Grease to get the desired viscosity that you want, although it does warrant some experimentation.
If you’re going this route, make sure to do some trial mixes and test it on a non-valuable switch before applying it to all the switches of your keyboard.
Krytox is regularly used in the automotive industry. You can get this lube from many different places, such as AutoZone or auto dealers and, of course, Amazon.
Many people within the community use Krytox lubricants. One thing to note that the oils and the PTFE solids within the lubricant separates after a few days. Krytox is meant to be used within a closed system such as within cars with extreme temperatures. Switches are open systems that are open to the air, dust, and temperature.
Krytox lubricants have different viscosity ratings based on the numbers after them. For example, 205g0. The lower the number, the less viscous. Lower is better for switches.
They have two different ranges: the 10x and the 20x. The 10x range are oils, and the 20x are greases. So, 205 is a grease.
They also have different grades. Grade 0 is the smoothest consistency. The higher the grade, the denser it gets. Basically, the thicker it gets. Grade 0 is what you’ll be wanting if you’re going to be lubing your switches.
As a recap, a 205g0 would be a grease that is the smoothest consistency with grade 0. This one is seen frequently because many in the mechanical keyboard community like to use this lubricant for both stabilizers and switches.
Tribosys lubricants are produced by Miller-Stephenson. They’re intended for general purpose and low thickness switch lubricants. They’re popular lube mixes and have an indefinite shelf life when stored within the container.
Tribosys 3204 is great for tactile and linear switches. Be careful when using this because a spill cannot be cleaned with soap or water or many common solvents.
GH V4 Lubricants
These lubricants are a custom mixture of different Krytox lubricants.
A GH V4 thick lube is a mixture of thick Krytox oil and a grade 3 Krytox grease. It is great for linear switches, tactile switches, springs, and stabilizers. Make sure to do a test run (I seem to be saying this a lot).
A GH V4 thin lube is a mixture of thin Krytox oil and Krytox grease. It has the consistency of oil but contains PTFE particles as well.
Note: Do NOT use WD-40 on your switches. It is NOT a lubricant. Its purpose is to be a solvent or rust dissolver. WD stands for water displacing.
Where can I buy them?
As keyboard enthusiasts, we don’t need that much lube. Many companies sell lubricants in small amounts just for the keyboard community.
Novelkeys.xyz sells Krytox lubricants for $12 for approximately 5ml. They also sell Christo-Lube MCG for $8 for a 5ml container. A big benefit is that they come in beautiful glass containers that could sit next to the facial moisturizer in the bathroom if you wanted it to.
They sell Krytox 203, 204, 205, and 206 all with grade 00 and Christo-Lube MCG 111, 112, and 129 with grade 2.
Christo-Lube MCG 129g2 is very similar to Krytox 205g0. It is much thicker but consistent when applying. Remember to use less when starting out, not more. You probably can’t go wrong with any of these lubricant choices. Overall time, with experience, you’ll start to develop your own preferences for lube viscosities and brands.
1Up Keyboards also sells a variety of switch lubes. Prices range from $8.00 to $9.25.
They sell the following switch lubes:
- Tribosys 3203, which is like Krytox 203g0. This is recommended for tactile switches.
- Tribosys 3204, which is thicker than 3203 and recommended for linear switches.
- Krytox GPL 205g0, which is thicker than both above and recommended for linear switches only, NOT tactile switches
- Krytox GPL 206g0, which is thicker than 205g0 and recommended for linear switches and stabilizers, NOT tactile switches.
- Krytox GPL 107 Oil, which is a very thick oil and is recommended to switch springs and linear switches.
They all come in 2ml small vials, which approximately lubes 120-200 switches, but results may vary. Currently they have a deal where you get 15% off with a purchase of 2 or more lubricant vials. For more information, check out their switch lubricant product page.
Keys.my sells a variety of lubricants. They measure quantity as a gram measurement. If you buy 1 unit, you get 2 grams of lubricant. Depending on the lubricant itself, the actual amount of lubricant may vary due to density differences.
They have bulk sales and discounts for every lube type, ranging from 5% off if you buy 3-4 units to 35% off if you buy 100 or more units.
In addition, they have in-depth descriptions of each lubricant they sell, operating temperature, color, appearance, viscosity, density, and shelf life.
Here is a list of some of what they offer:
- Dupont GHV4
- Dupont Krytox GPL 103, 104, 105, 106, 107
- Dupont Krytox GPL 203, 204, 205, and 206 in different grades: 0, 00, 1, 2
- Permatex Dielectric Grease
- Superlube Multi-purpose synthetic grease
Switch Top has a variety of lubricant options as well.
The Geekhackers Krytox Switch Lube is a proprietary blend of Krytox lubricants, which is custom mixed by mkawa @ Geekhackers. Each vial is $15, is 2ml of lube, which is enough for lubing over 100 switches.
It is recommended for linear switches. Other than that, they do not product a lot of information.
The Super Lube is a 1cc packet of multi-purpose lubricant with Syncolon (PTFE). This product is recommended for lubricating stabilizers ONLY. It costs $2.25 for each packet.
They also sell Tribosys 3203 and 3204 switch lubricants that range from $5.00 to $6.25. This is a collaboration between Hungerwork Studio and Miller Stephenson. They are both grade 0 greases, for all switch types.
3202 is a medium thin mix, and 3204 is a medium thick mix. Both come in 2ml vials.
Apexkeyboards.ca offers 3 different lubricating products specifically for mechanical keyboards. One of which is the Tribosys 3204 switch lube at $8.00 CAD. This is a semi-fluid grease used for switch lubrication. It can be used for linear and tactile switches. You will get 2ml which is enough for over 100 switches.
Apex also sells Krytox 205g0 Switch Lube in 3ml vials for $10.29 CAD. This lubricant is a thick lubricant that has the consistency of peanut butter. It’s good linear switches, however, it is not recommended for switch springs.
Compared to Tribosys 3204, Krytox 205g0 is much thicker. Krytox 205g0 can work well in tactile switches as well, but make sure to do a trial run on a non-vital switch just so you know what feel you’ll be getting afterwards just in case you don’t like it.
While those other lubricants shouldn’t be used for switches, Apex also sells Switch Spring Oil for $2.00 CAD for 2ml specifically for your switch springs. You can use it to brush the springs or to bag lube them.
In addition, they offer a lubricant bundle of all three products for $19.29 CAD right now.
Zeal PC sells keyboard lube as well. They have different products and ship for free for orders over $150USD within North America.
They offer Tribosys 3204 and 3203 (5ml for $35), Krytox GPL 205g0 (5g for $25, approximately 300 switches), GH V4 thick or thin lube (2ml for $15).
Lubing switches is a preference that many people within the mechanical keyboard community prefer due to the improved feel and dampened sounds that lubing produces.
There are many different types of lubricants to use. We’ve compiled a long list of different ones that may be more easily accessible at local stores or online only such as Tribosys lubricants.
A consensus of the mechanical keyboard community is to use thinner lube for switches. Make sure that you do not overlube and test beforehand on a non-vital switch to make sure you like the way it feels before doing it to your entire keyboard.
Many have used the Krytox and Tribosys lubes and recommend them to others to use to lube their switches. Make sure that you read about whether the lube is appropriate for linear or tactile switches before you ruin a nice clicky keyboard.
It does dial down to preference and experimentation. We’ve covered a lot of information in this article and hope that you found it helpful.
I sure did. Now I know what kind of lube I’ll be purchasing in the future to lube my tactile switches.
Leave a comment down below of any questions, suggestions on what we should do research on next, comments, or whatever you want.
And a question for you: What lubricants have you used to lube your switches? What switches were they? What effect did they have on your switches? Did you like it or not?
All About Keyboard Lubes Reddit.com
NovelKeys Lube Choices Reddit.com