How to Wash a Mousepad: Everything You Need to Know

March 20, 2023 • Devin Partida


In these days when touchscreens are built into almost every surface, many of us forget the heavy lifting of mousepads. For lots of tasks, there’s still no substitute for a Linux, macOS, or Windows machine. And for many professionals, the mouse-and-keyboard control setup is non-negotiable – whether you’re writing a novel, programming a microcontroller, designing next-gen cybersecurity measures, or creating visual digital art.

If you use a mouse regularly, you know you need a mousepad. Computer mice don’t function well, or sometimes at all, on certain common desk and workspace materials, including glass and some metals. Reflective materials can scatter the laser beam that makes them function. Plus, some surfaces aren’t smooth enough and create too much friction. Mousepads to the rescue.

But what happens when your mousepad starts showing its age? It might not be worn out – marks on the surface could be showing that you’ve got a dirty mousepad on (under) your hands. Here’s how to wash a mousepad.

Method 1: Wipe the Mousepad Down

For newer mousepads and those that haven’t accumulated a lot of grime yet, a simple wipedown is probably good enough. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Remove your mousepad from your desk and place it on a clean, dry, lint-free surface.
  2. Take a lightly damp microfiber cloth and wipe the mousepad in organized patterns, from one side to the other and top to bottom.
  3. If there are spots that appear more soiled than the rest, try a dab of isopropyl alcohol on your microfiber cloth and then try wiping your mousepad again.

This is a good strategy to use if your mousepad doesn’t show heavy signs of grime yet and you’re looking to stay ahead.

Keep reading for ways to remove more stubborn marks from your mousepad.

Method 2: Dish Detergent

Your method for how to wash a mousepad should change depending on how long you’ve been using it between washes. Try this dish soap method if you’re in this category and the surface of the pad isn’t as frictionless as it used to be.

  1. Take your mousepad from your desk or work surface and place it in a plastic basin, a large bowl, or a clean bathtub.
  2. Fill the tub, basin, or bowl with warm tap water or distilled water.
  3. Add a few drops of dish soap to the water.
  4. Massage the soapy water into the surface of the mousepad using your fingertips or a soft cloth.
  5. Let the mousepad soak for a few minutes before letting it air dry. Don’t try your mousepad directly in the sun; UV rays and intense heat might cause damage to the material.

How to Keep a Mousepad Clean

At this point, you may be convinced you don’t want this regimen to become a weekly recurring chore. Ideally, we shouldn’t have to do a deep clean on our mousepads more frequently than once per month or fortnight.

If you want to keep your mousepad clean, do these things:

  • Don’t eat or drink at your computer. We know it can be tough to curb the habit, especially with the line vanishing between work and home life, but you probably don’t even know about all the crumbs and droplets of soup you’re letting fly. Boundaries are good.
  • Wash your hands before using your computer. Don’t let anybody make fun of you for washing your hands before using your computer. Keeping your keyboard, mouse, and mousepad clean is simple if you don’t sit down for deep work sessions with filthy mitts.
  • Keep pets off of your desk or work surface. It can be tempting to let our four-legged friends inhabit our workspaces with us, but they can track untold dirt, debris, dander, and hair onto your computer and your mousepad. Give them something on the floor to occupy their attention and keep their contaminants contained.

Looking for a mouse pad that’s easy to clean? We recommend Logitech’s anti-slip, spill-resistant mousepad, available on Amazon for under $10.

Why Bother to Wash Your Mousepad?

Simply put, your mouse won’t work as well as it should if you don’t clean your mousepad regularly and strive to keep it clean.

Trackball-based computer mice are somewhat uncommon these days – they were highly susceptible to debris, hair, and contaminants that would interfere with the ball rolling smoothly.

These days, laser mice are more common, but they are thrown off almost as easily by the presence of debris. Computer mice also often have ports, rubber grips, and buttons that work better when they’re not gummed up with extra dirt. Keeping your mousepad clean keeps the exterior and interior workings of your mouse clean and functional, too.

Plus, you just want to know that your mousepad is going to stand the test of time. Most of them are made of mid- or low-density butadiene rubber, open-cell styrene, or a similar material bonded to fabric. These materials will break down faster than they need to when they’re in the constant presence of contaminants.

What About Other Mousepad Materials?

Wondering how to clean a mousepad made of other materials? If you don’t have a “standard” mousepad made from fabric and rubber, what can you do?

It depends on the material. Top-shelf mousepads made from leather will require their own care routine as described by the manufacturer. This typically involves cleaners made specifically for leather, followed by a leather conditioner.

Other mousepads might be laminated with plastic – these are even simpler to wipe down with a lightly dampened cloth or a streak-free disposable wipe.

Certain materials may not hold up well to anything but light cleanings with a dry or lightly dampened cloth. Cork mousepads are a favorite because they look good and are sustainable – give these a brief wipedown and expect color changes as they absorb skin oils. Leather will also patina this way over time – not all of it can be “cleaned,” but the changing character of a “living material” is part of the charm.

For other materials, like silicone rubber, metals, and woods, refer to the instructions included with the product. Most rubbers are easy to clean with water and a mild soap.

Now You Know How to Wash a Mousepad (And Keep It Clean)

We think of mousepads as utilitarian objects, but ignoring them can make things harder to clean more fully later on. Stay ahead of the game by doing small rounds of cleaning to prevent the need for a more intensive one.