How to Clean Mouse Mats & Desk Mats

Mouse mats were everywhere. Mouse mats were included with all new computers as if they were an essential part of the computer setup. This is from the days when computers were just beige boxes on desks, with CRT monitors atop. Mouse mats have also changed a lot since then.

Mouse mats were used to provide a dependable grip and a predictable surface, two essentials for an old computer mouse.

In the old design of computer mice, a rubberized ball was used to track movement. As the ball rolled inside the computer mouse, it would move against the electronic rollers. The rollers in the mouse sent a signal to the computer, indicating that the mouse had moved in the desired direction.

Except when it didn’t. It was the Achilles’ heel of the old design, as it became clogged with dirt and fluff. This would stop the ball or rollers from moving. The old mice had to be cleaned almost constantly, or they would stop working. Cleaning mouse mats is required to prevent this from happening too often.

It was, therefore, a relief to see the ball-shaped mouse go away. Because optical mice don’t need to grip the mouse, they rarely require a mat (except on a few highly reflective surfaces).

As more and more people switched to trackpads and laptops, the humble, inexpensive mouse mat was relegated into history. But not for very long. They were on the verge of a major comeback.

After getting used to a large mouse mat, it was hard to return to a desk that was cold, hard, and flat. Why not use a soft, comfortable mat to cover everything you touch with your hands – your keyboard, your mouse, even your phone?

Desk mats are the result. Desk mats are a stylish and functional desk accessory that is also comfortable.

We see a lot of desk mats today in offices. Some are designed with wrist supports, others are decorative, and still others act as non-reflective surfaces that optical mice can track over.

They all get dirty, no matter what they are used for. Cleaning computer micekeys, and desks has all been covered in detail. In this post, we will cover cleaning desk mats and mouse mats.

How to clean a Mouse Mat

Mouse mats are notoriously gross. All the grime from your hands, including makeup, skin oils, and hair, gets absorbed by the neoprene fabric if you’re like us (not naming names) and spill tea or coffee now and then, which will also soak into the mat.

Some mouse mats can be machine washed, but this process is harsh on the materials and will deteriorate them over time. Rubber does not like being stressed in this way too much because it can crack, and the glue holding the fabrics together may separate.

Follow these simple instructions for cleaning a mouse mat.

  1. The mouse mat should be placed in a sink. Dust off surface debris and wipe up any spillages.
  2. Use warm water to soak the mouse mat surface and then scrub any stains with an old toothbrush.
  3. Use an old toothbrush to clean away stubborn stains or oil stains.
  4. Rinse the mouse mat thoroughly with cold water and let it air dry away from sunlight or heat sources.

This last point is crucial: UV rays from the sun may damage plastics, fade colors, and cause rubber to dry out. Air drying your mouse mat is the best option, even though it may take a bit longer.

How to clean a Desk Mat

Desk mats are usually four times larger than mouse mats and have a wider range of materials and fixings.

  1. Clean your desk mat in a large sink using warm water.
  2. Use a soft-bristled brush to scrub it, and then use fabric or washing liquid, depending on the material. (Check the manufacturer’s instructions first!)
  3. Use cold water to rinse out all washing liquid or fabric cleansers.
  4. Allow the mat to drip-dry for 15 minutes, and then let it air-dry completely.

You now know how to clean desk mats and mouse mats at home or the office. Do you still have more office equipment that you need to clean? Continue reading Cleaning Office Equipment: The Ultimate Guide.


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