Back in the days of the Oregon Trail (the 8-bit version, that is), you knew it was time to clean your desk when you’d smack the mouse against the table to try to force your cursor along the screen. Now that we’ve traded in the mouse’s rubber ball for lasers, though, knowing when your mouse pad has gone from good to grimy is a tad trickier. In fact, it’s probably something you never think of, unless you actively spill something on it. Or realize that faux-marble pattern was actually white and millennial pink at one point. Don’t shame spiral—here’s how to clean your mouse pad quickly and easily, so you can spend your free time on other distractions. Like, you know, trying to get your digital ox across the river before the flood comes.
How to Clean a Mouse Pad:
Step One: Know What Your Mouse Pad Is Made Of.
Most mouse pads have a rubberized bottom (so it doesn’t slip all over your table) and a cloth or plastic top, so the mouse glides easily across it. But in recent years, leather mouse pads have become super trendy, as well as chic options (check out this tiny Persian rug) and light-up mats for gamers. Your best bet is to check your manufacturer’s cleaning instructions, but if you can’t remember where you got it—or yours is a standard-issue, cloth-topped freebie—we’re here to help.
Step Two: Shake It Off.
Pick that mouse pad up, dangle it over the trash can and make like Taylor Swift, shaking off any haters…err, loose debris.
Step Three: Give it a Good Wipe Down.
No matter what type of mouse pad you’re using, avoid spraying it directly with a cleaning solution. Your best bet is to spritz a microfiber cloth and wipe it down that way, so it doesn’t soak up a ton of cleaner in spots and get all soggy.
- If It’s a Plastic-Topped Mouse Pad, Try… Wiping it down with a baby wipe. It’s a fast, easy way to keep things grime-free, according to a typing teacher interviewed in Joey Green’s guide to life, Clean It! Fix It! Eat It!
- If It’s Cloth-Topped, Try… Dabbing a tiny drop of dishwashing soap onto a damp microfiber cloth and wiping it down. Rinse it off, pat it dry with a towel, and hang it up to dry fully before using it again.
- If It’s Leather, Try… Treat it like you would leather furniture. Combine equal parts water and vinegar into a small bowl. Dab a microfiber cloth in the solution, wring it out so it’s not dripping wet, and use it to wipe down the mouse pad. Use a dry cloth to wipe it again, making sure that it’s totally dry before you start use it again.
- If It Contains RGB Lights, Try… Unplugging your mouse pad and using a damp microfiber cloth to wipe down the non-electronic portions of the mat, recommends mouse-pad-manufacturer SteelSeries. The brand suggests using water and a little mild dish soap, wringing out the cloth thoroughly before wiping down the mouse pad and—like the other methods we’ve outlined—letting it dry thoroughly before using it again. (Get the company’s full cleaning tutorial here.)
Of course, if you’re like us, you may be wondering…
Can I Wash My Mouse Pad in the Washing Machine?
We wouldn’t recommend it. While some say it’s worked out for them just fine, hot water could melt the rubber portion of the mouse pad, and if you’re not entirely sure what your mouse pad is made out of, it’s best to simply avoid it. (And definitely avoid it if your mouse pad contains RGB lights or other electronic components.) After all, it’s easy enough to simply wipe it down and let it dry.
OK, So How Do I *Keep* the Mouse Pad Clean?
Let’s be real: You’re not going to stop sipping coffee or snacking on keto gummy bears while you work. But keeping your hands clean helps. And routinely cleaning your mouse can prevent you from sweeping more grime onto the mouse pad itself.
Try this technique from cleaning expert (and Clean My Space YouTuber) Melissa Maker: Spritz a microfiber cloth with a little rubbing alcohol and wipe down the exterior of the mouse. To clean the track wheel on top of the mouse, Maker suggests scrubbing it with a dry toothbrush. It’ll help knock loose any dirt. And finally, for any of the dirt that sticks to the edges of the mouse, she recommends folding up a Post-It Note a few times, creating a stiff edge that you can use to pick it away. (Sure beats using your fingernails.) You can check out her full tutorial—along with four other often-overlooked areas of the office to clean—here.