How to Lube Switches: A Step-By-Step Guide

Written by Azzief Khaliq
Last updated Sep 18, 2023

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How to Lube Switches

Lubing your switches is one of the best ways to take your mechanical keyboard experience to the next level. Lubed switches feel much smoother to type on and can often sound better than stock, unlubed ones. Most switches don’t come pre-lubed from the factory, so knowing how to lube switches is crucial if you want the best out of your keyboards.

Switch lubing may initially seem intimidating, but it’s nothing to get too worked up about. It can be tedious and finicky, but it’s not actually that hard. Don’t rush it, and you’ll be fine!

Getting Started

Before you start lubing your switches, you’ll want to ensure you have all the necessary tools. These are must-haves, so make sure you’re properly equipped before starting.

One of the easiest ways to get everything you need in one go is to get a switch lube station such as this Honkid aluminum switch lube station. Most stations you can buy will come with the necessary brushes, switch pullers, switch openers, and tweezers; just add lube, and you’re good to go.

That said, you’ll still want to double-check the tools your lube station of choice comes with and buy anything else you need.

Should You Lube Your Switches?

Before we go through how to lube switches, let’s first figure out if you should lube them in the first place.

Clicky switches don’t require much lubing (if any), as it’s easy to ruin the click and tactile feedback by doing so. You can lube the springs, but that’s about it. Generally, we don’t recommend lubing clickies.

Tactile switches will benefit from lube, but you’ll want to ensure you don’t go overboard. Generally, you can apply lube to the housings, springs, and stems, but you want to avoid the stem legs. Lubing these can reduce (or remove) tactility.

Linear switches are the best switch type to lube. You should lube the stems, housings, and springs. You’ll still want to err on the side of caution and avoid over-lubing, but there’s no need to avoid any specific parts of the switch with linears.

Also, note that some of the best linear switches available, like the Everglide Aqua Kings and Gateron Oil Kings, come pre-lubed from the factory. While you could remove the factory lube and re-lube to your tastes, we recommend leaving lubed switches alone. The benefits of re-lubing will be minimal at best.

Step 1: Remove Your Switches

Note: If modding loose switches, skip this step and head to step two.

Before you can open your switches to lube them, you have to remove them first. This can be easy or tedious, depending on your keyboard. If you’re using a hot-swappable keyboard, then it’s simply a matter of removing your keycaps and using a switch puller to remove your switches.

Grab the switch vertically and press the switch puller’s prongs. This will compress two tabs on the switch, allowing you to pull it out cleanly. Simply repeat this process for all the switches on your keyboard.

Removing hot-swap switches

Source: Voltcave

This step will take much longer if you’re using a soldered keyboard. You’ll have to dismantle your keyboard to access the PCB from underneath. Once you’ve freed the PCB, grab a soldering iron and slowly desolder all your switches.

However, unless you’re using an old (or particularly high-end custom) keyboard, you likely won’t have to deal with any soldering and desoldering. Most modern mechanical keyboards have hot-swap PCBs, so the soldering iron is a thing of the past.

Step 2: Open Your Switches

The quickest and easiest way to open your switches is with a switch opener. There are many types of switch openers on the market, but we like the aluminum ones best. All of them will do a decent job, though, and you can go with whichever style you fancy. You can even 3D-print switch openers if you have access to a 3D printer.

Aluminum switch opener

Source: Voltcave

First, place the switch on the four prongs, aligning the small tabs on the switch housing with the prongs. Then, push down on the switch firmly. This will pry the tabs open and loosen the top housing.

Opening a mechanical keyboard switch

Source: Voltcave

Some switches will open up cleanly, while others (like this Gateron Red) will require you to pry the top housing off with your fingers (or a tool). Note that Kailh and Outemu switches use a different housing design, so you’ll use the “blade” openers instead of the four prongs.

Once you have the switch open, you’ll want to separate the switch into four: the bottom housing, top housing, spring, and stem.

Mechanical keyboard switch parts

Source: Voltcave

Note that you can also use tweezers or a small screwdriver to pry open the prongs and loosen the top housing. But it’s a slightly more time-consuming process, which adds up if you’re lubing a whole keyboard’s worth of switches. The $15 or so for a decent switch opener is well worth it, in our opinion.

Step 3: Lubing Your Switches

This is where a switch lubing station will come in handy. A lube station will have cutouts to hold bottom and top housings, stems, and springs. It’s perfect for keeping track of all those tiny switch parts.

I use the 20-switch version of this Kelowna lube station, but any of the many options on Amazon will do. That said, you can get by perfectly fine without a lube station.

Lubing Your Lower Housings

Switch bottom housing

Source: Voltcave

First, start by lubing your mechanical switches’ lower housings. If you have a lube station, you can leave your lower housings in the lube station while you do this. If not, simply hold the lower housing with your fingers. Either way, the process is simple:

  1. Lube the side rails. Simply apply a small amount of lube to your brush and gently coat the sides, making sure not to leave any white clumps of lube.
  2. Apply some lube to the center stem, inside and outside. You want a light, clear coat of lube without any visible clumps. Less is more when it comes to lube.
  3. Apply a light coat of lube to the floor of the switch. A quick swish around will do just fine.
  4. Double-check your work and ensure there aren’t any clumps or pools of lube on the walls or in any of the corners. If you spot any, wipe them away with your brush.

If you’re lubing tactiles, avoid getting lube onto the gold contact springs. This can impact the tactility of your tactile switches and ruin how they feel. So be more careful with tactiles.

Lubing Your Springs

Switch spring

Source: Voltcave

There are two ways to lube your switch springs. You can lube individual springs or bulk-lube them in a plastic bag. Both will provide similar results, although the former is time-consuming and only makes sense if you’re lubing a small handful of switches. We recommend bulk-lubing your springs if you’re lubing more than ten.

Here’s how to lube your springs individually:

  1. Grab one end of your spring, preferably with a pair of tweezers.
  2. Apply a light coating of lube (Krytox 205g0 works fine here) in a circular motion to the free end of the spring.
  3. Flip the spring around, either by placing it in the bottom housing or into the lube station.
  4. Apply another light coating of lube to the other end of the spring.

Lubing a keyboard’s worth of switches? You’ll want to bulk lube instead. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Get a small resealable plastic bag (Ziploc will do fine)
  2. Drop your springs into the bag.
  3. Add around 20 drops of lube into the bag (Krytox 105g0 is ideal)
  4. Close the bag, leaving some air inside.
  5. Shake the bag lightly for between 30 to 60 seconds. If you’re using 205g0, wait a minute at least to let the lube spread fully.
  6. Open the bag and remove the springs.
  7. If you find stuck springs, gently pry them apart with tweezers.

No matter your method, we recommend putting your springs back into the lower housings once they’re lubed.

Lubing Your Stems

Switch stem

Source: Voltcave

Now, it’s time to lube the stems. Once again, you can leave the stems in your lube station or lift them out and hold them with tweezers or a four-prong grabber. It’s up to you.

  1. Apply a light coating of lube to the side rails, once again making sure not to leave any clumps of white grease. We want a clear sheen on the stem; wipe off any excess.
  2. Lightly lube the nub that contacts the spring.
  3. If you’re lubing a linear switch, lube the legs as well. Leave the legs dry if you’re lubing a tactile switch, as lubing them will diminish the tactility.

Once you’ve lubed the stem, slowly lower it into position on top of your spring. Make sure that the legs face the gold contacts.

Lubing the Upper Housing

Switch upper housing

Source: Voltcave

Lubing the upper housing is optional, and you can get by without applying any lube here. It won’t affect the final result too much.

All you need to do here is to lube the side rails. As with other parts of the switch, ensure it’s only a light coating with no visible clumps of grease on the walls or corners.

And you’re done! Now it’s time to reassemble your switch.

Step 4: Reassembling Your Switches

If you followed our steps, your switch should look like this, with the spring and stem inside the bottom housing. Remember that the stem legs face toward the gold contacts.

Reassembled mechanical keyboard switch

Source: Voltcave

To reassemble it, place the top housing onto the stem and slowly press it down until you hear and feel a click. The top housing only goes on one way, with the molded manufacturer or brand logo on the side with the gold contact springs.

Now that the switch is back together, try pressing it down. If the switch actuates properly, then it’s good to go. If not, open it and try again.

Step 5: Install Your Switches and Test Them

Installing hot-swap switches

Source: Voltcave

Now that your switches are lubed and ready to go, it’s time to reinstall them. If you’re using a hot-swappable keyboard, simply press them in by hand, ensuring you position and align them correctly. The two metal pins have to match up to the hot-swap holes in the PCB, or else the switches won’t go in and you may end up bending the metal pins.

If this happens, slowly and carefully bend the leg back with a pair of tweezers. Be sure not to bend it back too far, or you may fatigue the metal and snap the pin off.

Once you have all the switches installed, we recommend plugging your keyboard in and testing the switches before installing the keycaps. After all, there’s nothing more deflating than assembling a keyboard fully only to realize a few switches aren’t working right.

Keyboard tester

There are a ton of online keyboard testers you can use for this. We usually use the imaginatively-named Keyboard Test Online, but any of the popular ones will work fine. Press all the keys and make sure the tester detects them.

If all the keys and switches check out, you’re ready to install your keycaps and type up a storm! If not, try reseating the non-working switches first. If that still doesn’t work, open them up and reassemble them, ensuring all the elements are positioned and aligned correctly.

Closing Thoughts

Lubing switches may seem intimidating at first glance, but it’s more tedious than difficult. While it takes some patience, we think the process is simple enough that even new hobbyists should be able to lube keyboard switches without too much trouble.

Remember the golden rule: less is more. It’s better to under-lube than over-lube, as the latter will result in a sticky, squidgy mess that’ll be unpleasant to type on. Play it safe, take your time, and you’ll be fine!

Want to grab some new switches to lube? Check out our list of the best places to buy keyboard switches for some pointers.

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