How to Clean a Mousepad

Mousepad with florals and foliage design under white mouse next to laptop

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 6 hrs, 5 mins - 12 hrs, 15 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

As computers began to populate office spaces in 1968, designer Jack Kelley created a detachable molded tray to hold the keyset (a xylophone-like board), keyboard, and mouse that could be placed on a desk or attached to a chair. He noticed that the mouse did not track well on the hard plastic surface of the tray. So, he lined the right side with Naugahyde (faux leather) to create the first mousepad. A textured surface provided better traction and more precise cursor movement than a slick, hard desktop.

As different types of mouse technologies were introduced, the surfaces of mousepads were adapted. When the steel mouse ball was covered with silicone rubber, a fabric surface gave better tracking and accuracy. For an optical mouse, the mousepad featured special printed patterns to enhance computer movement. Some of today's mousepads incorporate a wireless charging system for a wireless mouse, eliminating the need to charge or replace batteries.

From that first swatch of Naugahyde, millions of mousepads have been created. Most are now around 12 square inches and manufactured from non-skid thin rubber or flexible vinyl with a fabric or plastic surface. Industrial designers, always looking to create a better mousepad, have created pads with a cushion to support the user's hand or wrist. Companies quickly saw marketing opportunities and offer promotional mousepads with their logos in every shape, size, and color combination.

Whatever type of mousepad you have, just like your other computer peripherals, it should be cleaned regularly. Dust, food crumbs, and body oils on the mousepad can cause the mouse to track improperly, among other issues.

How Often to Clean a Mousepad

Spills and visible debris should be cleaned away immediately with paper towels or by shaking the mousepad over a trash can. If you use the mousepad for hours each day, it should be wiped down at least weekly to remove dust and dirt. A more thorough cleaning should be done monthly to remove bacteria and body soil.

If you share a mousepad with others, it should be cleaned between users to remove bacteria transferred from hands.

Warning

Before cleaning any gaming or optical mousepad or a mousepad that contains a charging system, read the manufacturer's care recommendations.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Sink or plastic container
  • Sponge
  • Microfiber towel

Materials

  • Dishwashing liquid
  • All-purpose surface cleaner
  • Disinfecting wipe

Instructions

Materials and tools to clean a mousepad on white surface

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

How to Clean a Fabric Mousepad

  1. Prepare a Cleaning Station

    Gather dishwashing liquid, a sponge, warm water, and a microfiber towel next to a sink or plastic container.

    Station created for cleaning materials to clean mousepad

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Tip

    When cleaning any computer accessory where lint could become an issue, use a microfiber cloth instead of cotton towels or paper towels. Microfiber leaves behind no lint to clog components.

  2. Clean With Dishwashing Liquid

    Shake the mousepad over a trash can to remove any loose debris. Place the mousepad in the bottom of the sink or plastic container. Dampen a sponge and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Slowly move the sponge across the surface of the mousepad, gently scrubbing the surface with the soapy sponge. Don't scrub too harshly or printed designs could be damaged.

    Dishwashing liquid added to tan sponge over floral mousepad in white container

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  3. Turn Over the Pad and Repeat

    Turn over the pad and repeat step 2 on the other side.

    Mousepad flipped over to black back side for cleaning with sponge in white container

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  4. Rinse well

    Fill the sink or container with warm water and rinse the soapy pad by swishing it through the water. Change the water at least twice to make sure all of the soap is removed. Do not wring or twist the mousepad.

    Floral mousepad soaking in white container with warm water

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Warning

    Do not attempt to wash your mousepad in a washing machine. The agitation is too severe and can cause breaks in the surfaces. Also, do not try to clean a mousepad in the dishwasher, because the detergent ingredients are too harsh and can damage the pad's materials.

  5. Remove Excess Moisture

    Place a microfiber towel on a hard surface and lay the rinsed mousepad on the towel. Sandwich the mousepad between layers of the towel or another microfiber towel and press to squeeze out excess moisture. Repeat the process with another dry towel if the mousepad still feels drippy.

    Excess moisture removed from clean mousepad with blue microfiber towel

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  6. Air Dry

    Place the mousepad flat in a breezy spot away from direct sunlight to air dry. Use a drying rack to elevate the mousepad to improve air circulation and speed drying.

    Floral mousepad air drying on dry rack

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

How to Clean a Plastic Mousepad

  1. Spritz and Wipe

    Shake the mousepad over a trash can to remove any loose debris. Away from the computer keyboard, spritz the surface with an all-purpose surface cleaner. Wipe away grime with a sponge or microfiber towel. Some areas may need a second spritz if heavily soiled.

  2. Clean the Reverse Side

    Lightly spritz the backside of the mousepad and wipe with a microfiber cloth.

    Tip

    Use a disinfecting wipe to quickly clean and refresh a plastic mousepad. For thorough cleaning, allow the moisture from the wipe to remain and dry on the surface of the mousepad for at least 10 minutes.

  3. Dry the Mousepad Surfaces

    Dry the surfaces of the pad with a clean microfiber cloth or allow them to air-dry thoroughly before using.