Caked with months of built-up skin follicles, the occasional inadvertent spill of your favorite gaming beverage and a smattering of crumbs from countless quick refueling sessions, the unsung mouse pad is an oft-forgotten, but crucial part of any gaming setup.
The lowly mousepad rarely gets the same attention and care as pricier components even though its surface is responsible for innumerable hours of gaming pleasure and the epicenter of on-screen action.
In our guide, we walk through the best and quickest ways to rid a mousepad of grime and dirt to restore it to its former glory, or at least very near to it.
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Method 1 – Light Dirt
For mousepads that are generally clean but have amassed a layer of dust, the most straightforward technique is to get out your trusty vacuum cleaner and gently hoover up any debris.
If you don’t have a vacuum cleaner at hand, a run of the mill microfiber cloth does a decent job, but won’t remove any embedded dust, dirt, sweat, or hand oil residue. Straightforward back and forth mentions are more than sufficient.
Method 2 – Dirty Cloth Mousepad
Soft cloth mousepads are easy to clean, even if they’ve been left to amass considerable amounts of grime over months of use.
To start, clean a large sink or bath of any dirt with a quick rinse, and fill it with enough warm water to cover the mouse pad. Anything hotter may damage the mousepad, while colder temperatures won’t help dislodge ingrained dirt. You don’t want to submerge the pad completely but allow enough water that you can wet the whole surface easily.
From here, squirt a small amount of either shampoo, a sprinkling of laundry detergent, or household washing up liquid into the water and mix it liberally. Using straight water won’t cut the mustard especially if you’ve spilled a sticky soft drink or sugary food on the mousepad.
Douse the mousepad in the water and let it sit for a few minutes. Apply a small amount of cleaning product to your chosen cleaning utensil or directly onto the mousepad. Use either a cloth, towel, soft scrubbing brush or sponge to massage and scrub away the dirt from the top layer.
The idea is to loosen the dirt embedded in the fabric of the pad. For particularly soiled mousepads, don’t hesitate to scrubs multiple times. If this is the first time you’re cleaning the mousepad in a while, expect the soap to turn a rather sickening green or brown color. Don’t fret as this is a sign you’re dislodging the dirt correctly.
Avoid scrubbing the underside of the mousepad as this may wear away the gripping rubber pattern and affect how well it stays in place on your desk. There’s nothing like a shifting mousepad to put a cloud over a gaming session.
Once all the dirt has been wiped clean, remove the mousepad and flush away the dirty water. Next, rinse the mousepad with either water directly from the tap making sure to remove all the dirt, or otherwise fill up the bath or sink with clean water then swish the pad around to dislodge any lingering dirt. Remove the mousepad from the water.
Once all the muck has gone, try to remove as much moisture from the mousepad as possible by letting any water drip off and bending it gently to ring out as much moisture as possible. If the mousepad is particularly flexible, you can ring it as you would a cloth, but if there’s any resistance stop immediately to avoid damaging the pad.
Wrap the mousepad in a clean, dry towel by folding the edges over and dab away as much moisture as possible. Don’t hesitate to apply a reasonable amount of force to squeeze out the water. You can even leave it wrapped in the towel for a few minutes to help the process.
Next, hang up the mousepad to dry in a well-ventilated area such as above the bath with a window open. We don’t recommend hanging it up in strong sunlight as this can cause discoloration, although early evening should be okay in most climes. We warn against drying it on a radiator as the intense heat can lead to a crispy feel or cause the edges to curl upwards ever so slightly.
Alternatively, a hair drier helps with the drying process. Make sure you keep a safe distance between the dryer and pad to avoid any heat damage and always allow it to air dry afterward even if it feels dry. Moisture tends to linger deep within the cloth fabric.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results, and in most cases, this method invigorates new life into even the filthiest mousepads.
Method 3 – Hard Surface Mousepad
For a hard surface mousepad (rubber or plastic), the process is very similar to a cloth mousepad, except less moisture is required. The reason for this is to prevent the hard top layer from detaching from the foam padding below.
Wet a cloth or sponge, and ring it out so that it’s damp, but not drenched. Apply a few sprays of all-purpose household cleaner to the mousepad and gently scrub the surface clean of any grime and dirt. If you are worried about distorting or damaging the surface, apply a small amount of the cleaner in one of the corners to check it doesn’t erode the pad.
Once the surface been thoroughly scrubbed, rinse the cloth or sponge, and ring it out, then wipe the mousepad clean of any lingering muck and cleaner. It may take multiple passes to clear so rinse and repeat as required.
Wipe the surface clean of moisture with a dry, clean towel. Allow the mousepad to dry thoroughly before use by leaving it in a well-ventilated location or an airing cupboard. The mouse pad should be ready to go within a few hours, if not less.
For a quick, cursory clean, baby/sanitary wipes are a good stop-gap solution and remove dirt reasonably well, but aren’t a replacement for the proper cleaning procedure detailed above.
Method 4 – Washing Machine
Some people prefer to throw a dirty mousepad into the washing machine on a delicate cycle with a cold water setting with weak detergent thrown in, but we found that in most cases this caused fraying on the edges of the mousepad.
If you’ve got your heart set on using a washing machine, then bundle the mousepad in with a few towels and run a cycle in a short, delicate, cold water setting. The towels should act as a protective casing and prevent the pad from bashing into the metal drum.
Be wary this may still damage the mousepad, and we can only really recommend this for severely soiled mousepads that need a deep clean. Expect some damage though, but then again this may be a step up from an utterly unusable mousepad, so it’s a win in a way.
Method 5 – Out With The Old, In With The New
Give in to your most primal consumerist urges and buy a brand new one. The methods above do wonders for most cases, but mousepads do have a shelf life like any product.
Sometimes the cause is just so lost that buying a replacement is the only way to go. Mousepads are a dime a dozen nowadays meaning you won’t break the bank forking out for a new one.
The Final Word
We can’t understate how much of a difference a quick, regular clean of your mousepad can make not just to removing dirt, but to how much more responsive the pad can be to mouse movements. Best of all you don’t need to be a domestic god/goddess to get it right.