Should you toss your dirty mouse pad in the washing machine?

With more and more of us spending heaps of time at our desks, the likelihood of funking up your mouse pad (opens in new tab) increased exponentially. Assailants such as pizza grease, soda, or other mystery stains are sure to make their way onto your mouse pad at some point, and as someone who’s scarfed down an entire grilled cheese seconds before a video conference, I get it—sometimes food at the desk happens. Ultimately it means food on the desk will happen. 

Nothing is certain except death, taxes, and mouse pad stains.

The right way to clean a mouse pad

First off there, there are certain places to avoid placing your mouse pad, in case you were thinking of taking it off your desk to clean it. Don’t hang it out to dry in the sun as the colours are likely to fade. It should not go in the dishwasher, washing machine or dryer—extreme suds and extreme heat are bad for rubber and plastic.

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.

Wisdom from Katie

(Image credit: Future)

Just a note about hydrophobic mouse pads, such as the one that comes with the Arozzi Arena gaming desk (opens in new tab). I managed to completely ruin mine by using chemical cleaner (the kind you hoover off after it dries). Don’t be me. Be smart like Jorge. 

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.

How manufacturers recommend you clean your mouse pad

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.”

Recap

DO

  • Scrub the affected areas with dish soap and warm water in the sink 
  • Rinse with cold water 
  • Air dry for a day 

DON’T

  • Shove it in your washing machine
  • Shove it in your dishwater
  • Shove it in the microwave
  • Use intense fabric cleaner on it if it’s hydrophobic
  • Put in dryer
  • Use a hair dryer
  • Leave out in the sun

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