Computer mice

How to Properly Clean Your Computer Mouse

The vast majority of working people these days use computers for at least some of their work day. Computers have infiltrated every workspace and industry, and it is becoming necessary for just about everyone to know at least a little about IT. One of the simplest things to know about computers is how to keep yours and its peripherals clean and functioning well.

From people who work just a few hours a day at a computer to full-time professional gamers, everyone can benefit from knowing how to clean a computer mouse. It is your main interface with your computer, alongside the keyboard, and if it does not function properly, your work or fun time at the computer will be frustrating, to say the least.

What You Will Need

Before getting started and gathering your supplies, you should carefully choose which cleaning solution you want to use. Many sources recommend isopropyl alcohol, but using it could lead to discoloration of your mouse, or even affect the glue that holds its parts together. It is therefore best to use a mild dish detergent, a dedicated computer-cleaning agent, some alcohol-free wipes, or a mixture of vinegar and water.

If you want to take the risk of using alcohol, you could use a diluted solution of either isopropyl or ethyl alcohol, but make sure they are not stronger than 70 or 75%, respectively. You will also need:

  • A microfiber cloth (if you are not using cleaning wipes)
  • Your chosen cleaning solution or cleaning wipes
  • A can of compressed air
  • A toothpick
  • A computer cleaning brush
  • Some cotton swabs

The Process

1. Disconnect and Switch Off

You will need to unplug your mouse from your computer. Whether your mouse is wired or wireless, whatever means it uses to connect to the computer should be removed. If your mouse has an on/off switch on it, this should be set to off.

2. Clean the Exterior

Person cleaning wired mouse

Wipe down the exterior of your mouse with your microfiber cloth and cleaning solution, or some cleaning wipes. Pay special attention to the underside of the mouse where the feet or sliders move against the mousepad, as they tend to pick up a fair amount of dust and fibers.

You can use the tip of the toothpick to scrape away any dirt and dust caught within the fine lines and crevices of the mouse body. In some cases, the computer cleaning brush may work better for this. To remove the last of the dust, give the affected area a quick burst of compressed air, but do not spray for too long as you could cause moisture to form inside the mouse.

3. Give the Buttons Some TLC

If you are able to remove the outer shell of your mouse easily and without damaging it, do so, as this will allow you to more easily clean under the buttons. If you are not able to remove anything, briefly use your compressed air to blow in under the buttons and remove any captured dirt. You may need to lightly lift the buttons with a fingernail to ensure the air is getting in.

4. The Scroll Wheel

Closeup of mouse with 2 scroll wheels

There is usually at least a small gap between the scroll wheel and the body of the mouse, which allows dust to get inside, but also makes it easier to clean. Start by turning the mouse upside down and giving it a little shake to loosen any dust that may have fallen through the gap.

While the mouse is upside down, you can scroll the wheel to help dislodge the dust and dirt, and give it a wipe while you do so. Lastly, you can spray a short burst of compressed air into the gaps around the scroll wheel to clear away any stubborn dirt.

5. The Sensor

You should be very careful not to touch the sensor with anything, unless it is very dirty and cannot be cleaned with compressed air. If you do have to touch it to clean it, do so only with a dry cotton swab, and be very gentle. Do not put any pressure on the lens as you could cause it to shift out of its housing.

You should also clean around the lens, being careful not to touch it. You can use a tiny bit of cleaning solution on a cotton swab to do this, followed by a short burst of air from the can to remove any lingering dust.

6. Disassemble (Optional)

This step should not be necessary in most cases, and is not advised if the mouse is still under warranty. However, if your mouse is very dirty and performing poorly, and the cleaning tips above do not solve the problem, you can choose this method as a last resort.

  • Start by removing any parts that can be easily clipped off.
  • Then remove any screws that are holding the mouse together.
  • Be sure to place parts carefully and in an order that will help you remember where they go.
  • You should avoid touching the interior components or getting them wet.
  • Use only your computer cleaning brush or the compressed air to remove dust and dirt.
  • Be very gentle, and do not use cleaning solution.
  • Reassemble your mouse carefully, making sure to put all parts on in the correct order.
Try this similar method to quickly clean your mouse

Tips for Less Common Mouse Types

If you have an older or less common type of mouse, you may need to work slightly differently to get it clean. Here are some tips:

For a Trackball Mouse

Trackball mouse
  • Remove the trackball. Some mice have an access panel, some have a release hole, and some have an eject button. If yours has none of these, it may be as simple as turning the mouse upside down and popping the ball out.
  • Use a burst of compressed air to remove any dust from the cavity where the ball sits.
  • Your mouse should have either a lens, a set of rollers, or some bearings inside it. Use your toothpick, computer cleaning brush, or cotton swabs to clean them carefully.
  • Clean the trackball itself with your cleaning solution on a cotton swab or microfiber cloth.
  • Place the trackball back inside the mouse.

For a Magic Mouse

Hands cleaning magic mouse
  • Use your microfiber cloth and a bit of cleaning solution or a cleaning wipe to clean the body, paying special attention to the runners on the underside.
  • Have a close look at the lens to see if you can spot any dust on it. You may need to use a flashlight to see it clearly.
  • Only use compressed air to clean the lens – do not touch it.

How to Keep Your Mouse Clean

Now that you’ve put all this time and effort into cleaning your mouse, you’ll certainly want to maintain it better in future. The best way to do this is to keep your work space clean and neat.

Not only will this prevent your mouse from getting terribly dirty again so fast, but it will also help you keep your keyboard and other peripherals clean. Also, a dirty workstation is very unhygienic and an uncomfortable and unhealthy way to work.

Dirty workstation

Be sure to wipe down your workstation regularly to clear it of dust and dirt, and try to avoid eating at your desk, as crumbs are one of the most common types of dirt that make their way into the inner workings of mice and keyboards.

You can do a weekly wipe down to ensure there is no buildup of dust on your mouse, but it is always best to do a proper clean once a month to keep your mouse in its optimum condition.

Andrea Soke

Andrea has a background in economics and finance, but she's also passionate about gardening, sustainable living, and finding new ways to maintain a clean and orderly home. She believes in quality over quantity.

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