How To Clean a Desk Mat

If we had to guess, we’d venture to say your mouse pad has probably been through its fair share of wear and tare. While most mousepads are designed to be fairly durable and last a long time, this doesn’t mean they don’t get dirty with daily use.

Whether it’s hand grease, dust, dirt, or even food remains (we don’t judge!), it’s easy for dirt to accumulate in your mousepad over time. Having a dirty or messy mousepad can even affect your work productivity.

Thankfully, there are some quick and easy ways to clean your mousepad — and with them in mind, it will be looking brand new in no time.

Different Kinds of Desk Mats

To start, we should differentiate the two main kinds of mousepads people use.

Soft Pads

Soft pads usually have a fabric surface for the mouse to glide on and a thick, rubber packing to cushion the mouse and your wrist. These are the most popular among office works for their cushioning. Many have an ergonomic design to reduce wrist and hand discomfort.

Some soft pads have genuine leather, faux leather, wool, or durable polyurethane leather (PU) leather. It is necessary to know what kind of fabric is used in your mousepad before you clean it.

Hard Pads

Hard mousepads also use rubber, but instead of fabric, they have a hard, plastic surface that a mouse can easily glide across. Hard mousepads are frequently favored by gamers. Hard pads make small movements quicker and easier to accomplish.

Both kinds of pads can become dirty. Knowing how to clean them will make your user experience better. But it is far more likely that a soft pad will need frequent cleaning as it picks up more stains and dirt than a hard surface.

Methods for Cleaning Your Desk Mat

By Hand

Washing your mousepad by hand is the recommended way to clean it. Doing so will make sure it washes gently and isn’t damaged.

If you are washing a soft cloth mouse pad, you can soak it in a warm water bath with mild soap and water and gently scrub away any dirt with a washcloth or rag. If your mouse pad has suffered coffee stains or other stubborn substances, it may need to soak a bit longer and be seriously scrubbed.

If you are cleaning a leather pad, you should not use any cleaning agents and only wipe it down with a damp cloth soaked in warm water. Leather pads can be irreparably damaged if left to soak in water.

Rinse the pad completely, and set it on a surface where it can stay until it dries. Avoid sunlight, or it may fade the colors of the pad design.

You must be gentle when scrubbing your mouse pad. If the pad has stitched edges, it will probably be fine in water with decent scrubbing force. But if you don’t have stitched edges, any serious scrubbing may cause the pad to fray along the edges. This doesn’t make it unusable, but will eventually cause the mat to disintegrate and need to be replaced.

By Machine

Most mousepads will be just fine if washed in a washing machine. You must run the washer on cold water, or it could melt the rubber inside and on the back of your mat.

As stated before, leather pads can only be washed by hand because they should never be submerged in water.

Other cloth mousepads can go through a washing machine with little problem. A pad with stitched edges will be safer in a washing machine because it won’t fray around the edges and corners.

Do not put the pad in the dryer under any circumstances. Set the mat out on a surface where it can sit until it is dry. Keep it out of sunlight, or the color and design may fade.

Tips for Maintaining Your Mouse Pad

Frequently Wash

Doing a good cleaning every few months will increase the longevity of your pad.

Don’t overdo it, or the pad might give out on you, though. But if you are waiting months or even years between washing your pad, the stains and dirt are only embedded into the pad’s rubber layer.

Wipe Down Daily

Wiping down your pad daily with a damp paper towel or an antibacterial wipe will reduce a lot of the dirt and debris that builds up over time.

Doing this is simple and will make your mouse pad last much longer and need cleaning less often.

Avoid Spills

how to clean a desk mat
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Of course, accidents happen. But to minimize the risk of them happening in the first place, we recommend avoiding putting your hot coffee right next to your mousepad, or setting your cereal down on top of it. Doing what you can to help the mousepad steer clear of food, drinks and other liquids is a good idea to help keep the pad safe.

Bottom Line

Before you toss out your dirty mouse pad, try cleaning it with one of these methods, and watch it transform into a brand new mouse pad. Keep in mind that mousepads are not invincible, though, and you’ll likely need a new pad after a few years or so. But if you’ve been replacing yours once a year — or even every few months — try out these cleaning strategies to increase its longevity.


Can I clean a hard mouse pad this way?

Washing a hard mouse pad in a washing machine can result in nicks and damage, so it’s best to wash these by hand. But you can use the same method as you would wash a soft mouse pad by hand.

How long will it take to dry?

It will likely take at least 24 hours to dry as the water will penetrate all the spaces between the rubber in the mouse pad. For best results, you should a full 48 hours after you finish washing the pad.

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