How to Clean a Mousepad the Right Way

Whether you're using a plastic or leather option, we have the products and methods you need to keep your mousepad squeaky clean.

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ozgurdonmaz / GETTY IMAGES

Ask anyone who works on a computer all day long: a mousepad is a necessity. And since it's something we touch for hours on end, it gets dirty fast (especially if you regularly bring a desk lunch). It's this heavy use that makes them a magnet for messes—they can build up with things like body oil, dirt, grime, and even bacteria—which is why professionals say you need to add your mousepad to your weekly cleaning checklist.

Related: How to Clean Battery Corrosion in Your Home Electronics

Common Types of Mousepads

Mousepads come in all kinds of fabrics—including leather, plastic, cloth, and even metal—which means that the best way to clean them depends on their material type.

  • Cloth mousepads are the most common, says Shantae Duckworth, a cleaning expert, professional organizer, and the founder of Shantaeize Your Space; most can be cleaned using warm water and mild soap.

  • When it comes to more durable pads, which are made from materials like hard plastic or metal, you can get more aggressive—you might even be able to run them through the dishwasher for a no-effort clean, says Logan Taylor, the owner of The Dazzle Cleaning Company.

  • For speciality mousepads—like luxe leather or ones with printed photos—you'll need to use a gentler touch.

How Often to Clean Your Mousepad

No matter what type of mousepad you have, it's best to clean it weekly for the best (and most hygienic) results.

Related: 9 Things You Should Clean Every Day

The Best Cleaning Products for Mousepads

When it comes to cleaning a mousepad, less is usually more—which means you want to opt for the gentlest cleaning agents that can get the job done. Both our experts prefer using a mix of warm water and dish soap for cleaning cloth and plastic mouse pads. If your mousepad is made with leather materials, stick to a cleaner that is designed for leather. While you can use water to get these types of pads clean, it should always be applied sparingly—and you should never submerge them.

In the cleaning methods below, you'll find several common household supplies—make sure you have them on hand before you get started:

  • Dawn dish soap

  • Gentle laundry detergent

  • Leather cleaner

  • Warm water

  • Dish towels or cloths

  • Paper towels

  • Wipes

  • Toothbrush

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning a Mousepad

The first thing to do when you clean your mousepad is to remove it from sensitive electronics (like your computer or mouse). For the best results, clean your mousepad near a sink or another easily accessible water source.

Cloth Mousepads

To tackle these types of pads, you'll need a mixture of 1 part Dawn dish soap and 1 part water, says Taylor.

  1. Spray the mousepad down and let it sit for about 15 minutes.

  2. Take a clean dish towel or toothbrush and agitate it across the surface to loosen up tough stains.

  3. Toss it on the top shelf of your dishwasher—it'll be good as new when it comes out.

  4. Let dry before putting your mouse back on your mousepad.


If you don't have a dishwasher, rinse your cloth mousepad with warm water and air dry, instead, says Taylor.

Photo Printed Mousepads

If your mousepad doubles as a keepsake, you'll want to be a bit more careful about how you clean it. You can still use the Dawn and warm water mixture, but you should skip the heavy scrubbing and dishwasher, says Taylor. Instead, rinse it with warm water and allow it to air dry.

Plastic or Hard Mousepads

A hard mousepad is made from materials like plastic or metal. "Many people like hard mouse pads because they have a smooth surface, which is ideal for fast and accurate movements," says Duckworth. To get these mousepads clean, follow these steps:

  1. Shake the pad over a trash can. Use a clean dry wipe to remove any excess dust or debris.

  2. Mix up a homemade solution consisting of warm water and mild dish soap or gentle liquid detergent (a 1:1 ratio works) and use a paper towel to apply the mixture.

  3. Use a clean wet cloth to wipe it down; then let it dry.

Leather Mousepads

Your leather mousepad will require more finesse, since a dish detergent and water mixture might get the surface too damp for the fabric's liking.

  1. Begin by using a clean cloth to wipe off any dust or debris.

  2. Use a leather cleaner and a microfiber cloth to wipe the pad down; check with the manufacturer to ensure a leather cleaner is safe for use.

  3. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for dry time.

Tips and Tricks for Maintaining a Clean Mousepad

Beyond a weekly cleaning, there are a few more steps you can take to keep your pad cleaner for longer, says Taylor—and this maintenance should include cleaning your mouse, as well.

  1. Open up the mouse and remove the ball, if it has one.

  2. Use something small (like a paperclip) to remove the lint and debris that build up over time in that compartment.

  3. Roll the trackball around in a clean cloth, wipe down the exterior with a cloht, and you'll be all set, adds Taylor.

Another way to help keep your mousepad clean involves watching what you eat and drink while you work. We're all guilty of spending our breaks at our desks, which can make a bigger mess than we realize.

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AlexandrBognat / GETTY IMAGES

How to Avoid Damaging Your Mousepad When Cleaning

As with any first-time cleaning endeavor, you should always test any chemicals you're using on a small and inconspicuous part of your mousepad to ensure it won't ruin the material. If you find that the solutions that Duckworth and Taylor suggested are too much for your mousepad, you can always try using warm water and a gentle cloth to start and then work your way up, testing other all-purpose cleaners until you find the right one.