With more and more of us spending more time at our desks, it's only a matter of time before we funk up our mouse pads (opens in new tab) with pizza grease, soda, or other mystery stains. As someone who's scarfed down an entire grilled cheese seconds before a video conference, I get it, sometimes food at the desk happens, which ultimately means food on the desk will happen. Stains are inevitable.
So, here is a list of places you shouldn't put your mouse pad, if you were thinking of taking it off your desk to clean it:
- Out in the sun. It'll fade!
- The dishwasher. It's not a cutting board.
- The washing machine or dryer. Extreme suds and extreme heat? Bad for rubber, bad for plastic.
- The microwave. Seriously, what?
There's been some debate on the appropriate way to clean a soft surface or cloth mouse pad. The reason I'm advising you to stay away from washing machines and dishwashers is that these kinds of mouse pads are easy to damage. Not all spin cycles are created equal, so even a low tumble setting on certain washers or dryers could warp and damage the rubber bits in a mouse pad (many cloth mouse pads have some sort of textured rubber base to keep the pad in place when in use). And the surface needs to be pristine and smooth for your mouse to properly glide over it without issues.
Even if you own a machine-washable mouse pad, make sure you follow the manufacturer's cleaning instructions to the letter and exercise caution.
Heat is also the enemy; the rubber used in most mouse pads has a pretty low melting point. This means sticking it in the microwave, blasting it with a hairdryer, or letting it spin around in hot water are all terrible ideas.
Our best recommendation for cleaning a cloth gaming mouse pad is merely using a squirt of dish soap, warm water, a sponge or washcloth, and some good ole fashioned elbow grease to rub out the stain. Then air dry. If you're using a plastic or hard surface mouse pad, a damp washcloth should do the trick, since those are easier to spot clean.
I asked two makers of comically large cloth mouse pads, Corsair and HyperX, about their mouse pad cleaning best practices, just to make sure this was the best approach. Both agreed on simple hand washing and that a washing machine is not a good idea.
"Most people will use some soap and water to clean their mouse pads and then let it air dry," HyperX told us. "Putting it into the washing machine to clean is not recommended by us."
"Very warm water, just a little bit of liquid dish soap in the sink," Corsair recommends. "Then just rinse it in cold water gently and not put it in the washing machine."
So to recap:
- Scrub the affected areas with dish soap and warm water in the sink
- Rinse with cold water
- Air dry for a day
- Shove in your washing machine
- Shove in your dishwater
- Shove in microwave
- Put in dryer
- Use a hair dryer
- Leave out in the sun