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How to Clean an Optical Computer Mouse

Updated on October 24, 2012
It's amazing how dirty an optical mouse can get. Simple maintenance will extend the life of the mouse.
It's amazing how dirty an optical mouse can get. Simple maintenance will extend the life of the mouse. | Source

How to Clean an Optical Mouse

The Optical mouse (or laser mouse) provided a dramatic improvement to the efficiency of the mouse, replacing the old fashioned ‘ball’ in the mouse with an Optical that tracks the movement of the mouse. This reduces the amount of dirt that clogs the ball and makes the peripheral far more efficient.

However, the Optical mouse can still get dirty and see a reduction in its efficiency. It is therefore important to clean your Optical mouse periodically to ensure optimal performance. While there are less moving parts to an optical mouse there are several areas that should be cleaned often:

  • Pads on mouse – there usually for soft pads on the bottom of the optical mouse that allows it to glide over the mouse pad or surface it is being used on. These can collect dirt and grease making them sticky and making the mouse harder to move.
  • Optical 'hole' – this can often collect debris and grease reducing the performance of the Optical.
  • Buttons and wheels – while the Optical has replaced the ball mechanism, the Optical mouse still has buttons and sometimes wheels that can get dirty and clog up.

Things you'll need to Clean the Optical Mouse pads and the Top Surface

  • Clean lint-free cloth
  • Detergent
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Q-tip

The four pads surrounding the mouse help it glide over the mouse mat. Cleaning these will improve the performance of the mouse. The screw hole is hidden below the white circular sticker.
The four pads surrounding the mouse help it glide over the mouse mat. Cleaning these will improve the performance of the mouse. The screw hole is hidden below the white circular sticker. | Source

Clean the Optical Mouse pads and the Top Surface

  • Softly scrape the pads with a plastic spoon or a fingernail to remove any build up of dirt and grease. You should be careful not to scratch the pads as this will reduce the efficiency of the gliding of the optical mouse.
  • Dampen the lint-free cloth with some of the alcohol and rub the pads gently to ensure no grease is left behind. Let the pads dry and repeat until you are sure the pads are debris and grease free.
  • Use the second cloth with some detergent (watered down) and clean the top surfaces of the Optical mouse - the cloth should be damp not soaking wet. If there are stubborn stains use some of the alcohol.
  • Use a Q-Tip and some of the alcohol to clean the Optical ‘hole’ ensuring that grease and dust are removed thoroughly. Do no wipe the Optical Len with the swab as this can damage the lens and/or laser.

Things you'll need to Clean the Optical Mouse Buttons and Wheels

  • Can of condensed air

Use fingures to gently pry open the buttons - most will allow you to 'unclick' the button for more access.
Use fingures to gently pry open the buttons - most will allow you to 'unclick' the button for more access. | Source

Cleaning the Optical Mouse Buttons and Wheels

Use the condensed air to spray in between the ‘cracks’ of the scroll wheel and buttons – you can gently pry the buttons up with your finger to gain more access – be careful not to concentrate too much of the stream into the contacts.

In extreme cases where the buttons are not working you may have to open the mouse and thoroughly clean the contacts – the screw holes are usually hidden behind the labels on the bottom of the mouse. Ensure that you know exactly where all the pieces go – this should be a last resort; cleaning the mouse monthly should mean that you will never have to do this.

Cleaning the Mouse Pad

Now that your Optical mouse is clean it’s essential that you take time to clean the mouse mat. Any debris and grease that is on the mouse mat will quickly transfer to the Optical mouse on use and negates any work that you have done to clean it. The process below gives a step by step guide on how to clean a mouse pad – note, this only works for cloth mouse pads.

  • Take the mouse pad and soak in warm water with detergent for ten minutes.
  • Scrub the pad to remove any surface stains.
  • Hang outside to air dry.

Note over time this will damage the foam of the mouse pad, but for a short term solution it works.

To clean non cloth mouse pads, or cloth mouse pads that aren’t too dirty simply use a soft brush and vacuum to remove any residual dirt and then use a lint-free cloth to remove any greasy residue (use in conjunction with the alcohol if needed).

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