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Does anyone use a mousepad now? After all the mouse has evolved, it no longer uses a ball to track movement. The mouse is high tech and optical, it can work on any surface, so why would you have a mousepad, let alone need to clean it?
There are advantages to having a mousepad, especially if you are a gamer that likes to play fast-paced action games on your PC. If you are using a mousepad, then it is part of your desk set up, and it makes sense to keep it clean. The mouse will only perform well on a pristine mousepad. Besides, what does a sticky, dirty mousepad say about you either as a worker or a person?
Why Clean a Mousepad?
A standard mousepad is inexpensive, and you might wonder why you would bother to clean it when you could replace it quickly and cheaply. There are good reasons for cleaning your mousepad.
We need to look after the environment.
We are moving out of the mindset where it is acceptable to use things once and throw them away. Single-use plastics are choking our oceans, and we are running out of land to deposit our waste. Our mantra these days is to generate as little waste as possible. If you keep your mousepad clean and working, then in a small way, you are working to make the world a better place.
A good mousepad can be expensive.
If you have invested in a quality mousepad, then you will want to get the maximum use out of it. When it is dirty, it does not allow the mouse to glide, and it may clog up the sensor with dust.
You need to look after yourself.
We wash our dishes, clothes, and selves because dirt is not healthy. Generally, a clean home is a healthy home. We spend a lot of time at our desks and keeping our equipment clean is better for us. The mousepad is no exception. A spotless mousepad works better and retains fewer germs.
How Often Should the Mousepad be Cleaned?
Clean your mousepad when it is dirty. You don’t want to leave the mousepad to be such a disgusting object that you need to dress in a boiler suit and face mask to clean it. But you don’t want to be washing it every day.
How often you need to clean your mousepad will depend on your habits. If you regularly munch snacks while using your computer, then everything is going to get covered in crumbs and stains and will need cleaning on a more regular cycle. If your desk is a snack and drink-free zone, then everything will need cleaning less often.
You may be very clean in your habits, but your mousepad will still need cleaning. Humans are continually shedding hair and skin flakes. Not to mention the fact that on occasion we sweat, sneeze and cough spraying germs over every surface. We lose 30,000 to 40,000 dead skin cells every hour. If you are playing on your computer for a couple of hours, then you are covering everything in your area in a layer of human dust.
You should clean-up spills on your mousepad immediately. Whenever you feel that your mouse is not working smoothly, it is time to think about cleaning.
How to Keep a Clean Mousepad
Keep a soft artist or cosmetic brush on your desk. Or splash out on a computer cleaning brush with the fibers that attract dust. When you are packing up your computer, spend two minutes brushing away dust and crumbs from your keypad and mousepad. Two minutes will keep everything relatively dust-free.
Cleaning putty for cleaning keyboards and other intricate electronics can also clear your mousepad. It is a soft, sticky gel that will pick up dust, hairs, and other small crumbs. It also has antibacterial properties and is a quick way to clean up your mousepad to remove surface dirt. It will not lift stains. It changes color once it is ready to be replaced and the product is biodegradable.
Cleaning Hard Plastic or Metal Mousepads
These have hard surfaces that are easy to clean with a soft cloth or damp wipe. If you spill a liquid onto the mousepad, then clean it up immediately with a kitchen towel or a cloth. If you act fast enough, then there won’t be a stain.
For hygiene purposes, wipe the mousepad with a sterile or antibacterial wipe regularly. Unless you have a compromised immune system or a streaming cold, you should not need to clean the mousepad more than weekly or monthly. Leave to air dry before using it. The wipe should lift any surface staining.
If the mousepad has a printed pattern, then rub it very gently to avoid removing the design when cleaning it.
If the mousepad is exceptionally dirty, then the whole pad can be washed in the same way as described for cleaning soft cloth mousepads.
Do not feel tempted to put your hard mousepad into the dishwasher. The wash cycle and chemicals are no good for your mousepad. The washing machine is not a good option for your hard mousepad because there is a risk of it becoming distorted and unable to lie flat on your desk.
Cleaning a Soft Cloth Mousepad
The soft cloth cover is more likely to pick up a stain. It doesn’t matter how quickly you mop up a spill, some of the liquid will soak into the fabric, and it may stain. You can try spot cleaning in the same way that you would try to clean a sofa or carpet. Try your chosen cleaner on a corner first to see if it is likely to remove the dye from the fabric.
Instead of a commercial cleaner, you can use baking soda or salt for spot cleaning the mousepad. Sprinkle the salt or the baking powder onto the stain. Use a damp cloth to lift the grains and the stain. Then leave the mousepad to dry. This technique can be used for freshening up the mousepad between washes.
Instead of salt or baking powder, you could use a dry carpet cleaner. Typically, these are moist granules that you brush into a carpet, leave for about twenty minutes and then vacuum up. A mousepad is much smaller and will only need a spoonful or two of the granules. Use a nailbrush to work them into the fabric and then carefully vacuum the dust out of the mousepad. These granules are moist so you will need to let the mousepad dry, but not for the length of time required after washing.
You want to avoid washing the mousepad if you have other alternatives. If you pay attention to the cleanliness of your mousepad and deal with stains as they happen then you are unlikely to need to wash your mousepad more than once a year.
When you need to wash your mousepad, make sure that you can leave it to dry for at least a day, two or three would be better. You do not want to put a damp mousepad back on your desk. Wooden furniture will swell when exposed to water, and this causes unsightly damage. Trapping moisture between the mousepad and the desktop may encourage mold to grow. Mold is unpleasant and unhealthy. Water and electricity are a terrible partnership, so common sense indicates that your mousepad should be completely dry before returning to your desk.
The soft cloth mousepad is likely to be constructed from a flexible synthetic rubber and a textile cover. You can put the whole mousepad into the water for cleaning. You will want a container that is big enough for the mousepad to lie flat underwater. You can wash a small mousepad in the sink, but a large mousepad may need a bath or shower.
Run a basin or bath of warm water. While the water is running, add a small amount of cleaning agent. You can use washing up liquid, shampoo or soap designed to wash delicate wool items by hand. The soap molecules work by pulling the oil and grease particles out of the fabric and into the water. So, leave the mousepad to soak in the warm soapy for a few minutes.
Coldwater is not as effective at allowing the soap molecules to work. Hot water is going to harm the rubber and any foam in the mousepad. It may not be hot enough to melt the rubber, but it may distort it. Warm water that is comfortable for your hands is the best washing temperature.
If the mousepad is badly stained or has greasy spots, then you can rub soap into those areas before putting the mousepad into the water. After the mousepad has soaked for five minutes, it is time to rub away the stains and dirt. Use your fingers or a soft sponge to rub over the mousepad in small circular movements gently. Pay attention to stained areas by spending extra time rubbing at the stains.
The next stage is to rinse away all the soap and the dirt that has been trapped by the soap molecules. You can rinse by filling the basin and immersing the mousepad repeatedly until the water is clear. Alternatively, you can wash the mousepad under the cold tap until the water runs clear with no cloudy soap suds.
Now look all over the mousepad – is it clean? If it is clean, you can now move onto drying it. If it is still dirty, go back to the warm soapy bath stage.
You can peg the mousepad out on a line to drip dry. Try and avoid putting it in direct sunlight (unless trying to remove a stubborn stain) as sunlight is very destructive to fabric and rubber. To dry a mousepad as quickly as possible use towels to absorb the water from the mousepad. Put a bath towel on a hard surface and place the mousepad on top of it. Use another to press into the mousepad. The water from the mousepad will transfer to the towel. Use fresh towels as they become wet.
Finally, allow the mousepad to air dry for at least a day, but two or three days would be better. You can speed the drying process with a hairdryer on a low heat setting – not hot because of the risk of damage to the rubber. Do not put the mousepad on a source of direct heat such as a radiator or in front of a fire. Do not put the mousepad into the tumble dryer – not even at a low setting.
If your washing machine has a setting for delicate materials (hand wash or wool), then you can wash the mousepad in the washing machine. Wash it with some towels to buffer it from damage. Dry it as explained above.
Why Use a Mousepad?
Protect the desk.
You can put coffee mugs on any surface. The result will be wet sticky rings and possible heat damage to wooden furniture. The consequences are that the furniture needs cleaning, but a mat between the coffee cup and the surface will protect the furniture. A small coaster is quicker to clean than a large table and can be replaced at less cost if it becomes damaged beyond repair.
The action of a mouse over a desk, especially one with a surface veneer, will over time cause damage. A mousepad acts as a barrier and prevents scratching and wear.
Protect the mouse.
Running the mouse over the hard surface of the desk will cause wear and tear on the sliders. If you have splashed out on an expensive, super glide mouse to improve your gaming, then this is not desirable. A decent mousepad will allow the mouse to glide smoothly and consistently with less wear on the bottom of the mouse.
If the mouse runs over a hard surface like a desk, then small flecks of varnish and dust will be generated. Although a mouse no longer has a tracking ball to get clogged, it does have a movement sensor. This sensor can become clogged, and the mouse will not perform as smoothly as it should.
Specialist gaming mousepads are designed to enable quick movements with the mouse. The surface of the mousepad provides a consistent optimized surface. An extra-large mousepad allows games to play with big sweeping slides of the mouse.
The thickness of the mousepad evens out any imperfections on the desk surface, allowing the mouse to move smoothly.
The desk area is defined.
A mousepad clearly defines the space on the desk for the use of the mouse. Therefore, typical desk clutter of pens, paper and coffee cups do not encroach on the area that you need to keep clear for the mouse. So you don’t try maneuvering the mouse past a hole-punch.
A large mousepad that is almost desk size allows the keyboard and the mouse to positioned next to each other for the comfort of use.
A mousepad looks after your wrist.
Many mousepads come with integral wrist support, but even those without put less stress on the arm used for the mouse. The mousepad surface is soft and more natural to move the mouse around. It can be positioned to make sure that there is no straining to use the mouse.
Types of Mousepad
The materials used to construct a mousepad will determine how easy it is to clean it when it gets dirty.
Metal pads are made to be very smooth for easy gliding. Plastic pads are designed to have a little more texture for gripping the mouse and allowing exact controlled movements. Some mousepads combine both features with a textured surface on one side and a smooth surface on the other.
The standard mousepad design has a rubberized side to prevent slippage and a padded cloth side for the mouse.
While your mousepad is drying, you will need to use something to protect your desk from wear and tear from the mouse.
Any material that will allow the mouse to glide smoothly will work as a temporary mousepad. Avoid a very reflective surface like a mirror because that will confuse the sensor. A clean hard plastic-coated table mat works well as does a sheet of smooth cardboard. Magazines, hard-backed books or a pad of paper will also work.
Time to Replace the Mousepad
There is no point in cleaning a broken mousepad. Replace a worn or cracked mousepad with a new one. But don’t throw out the old mousepad. If you give the matter some thought, you can come up with a creative way to recycle it into a useful product.
The mousepad has been protecting your desk so it could be cut up and made into small mats for other objects. Such as coasters for coffee mugs, underneath plant pots, stop chair legs from marking wooden floors. Consider it a challenge to put your old mousepad to good use.