Even though electronics are getting cheaper all the time, you still want to get the longest useful life possible out of the gear you buy. That’s why it’s a good idea to thoroughly clean your computer’s mouse at regular intervals. It will not only last longer, it will also be more accurate and easier to use. Here’s how to handle this simple maintenance task.
Always Unplug/ Turn Off Your Mouse First
Regardless of the type of mouse you use with your computer, you always have to unplug it or turn it off before cleaning it! This will minimize the risk of causing damage by introducing fluid to live electronics. If you have a wireless mouse, removing the batteries is the best way to ensure it’s offline before you start cleaning.
Using The Right Tools Is Vital
In order to clean your mouse effectively, you need to use appropriate cleaning materials. If at all possible, avoid using flimsy tissues. (e.g. Kleenex) These are too fragile to do an adequate job, and they can often deposit fluff on your mouse, defeating the purpose of cleaning it! A durable paper towel does a much better job, and a clean cotton cloth (a dustrag or piece of worn-out laundry) is ideal. Although you can use water to clean your mouse in a pinch, rubbing alcohol is a much better choice for cleaning fluid. It will loosen debris more effectively and dry quicker. Q-tips may be useful for getting into nooks and crannies – be aware, though, these can also leave fluff behind.
The Cleaning Process
On the top of your mouse, use a moistened cloth to gently remove any debris that accumulated on the buttons or in the cracks. The same technique can clean your mouse wheel, although you’ll want to use just a tiny bit of alcohol or water on this part. Once you’re satisfied with the state of the upper side of your mouse, flip it over.
This is the really important part of mouse cleaning. Remove any dust, hair, or dirt that’s obstructing the laser emitter. This will make a dramatic difference in your mouse’s accuracy and responsiveness. Also, make sure you thoroughly scrub the entire underside of the mouse. Pay particular attention to the cushioned pads that the mouse sits on. Keeping these clean will make your mouse easier to move. Once your cleaning is finished, plug your mouse back in (or reinstall it’s batteries) and enjoy cleaner, easier pointing and clicking!
Old School: How To Deal With A Mechanical Mouse
If you’re dealing with a very old mouse, you’ll find a trackball instead of a laser beneath it. To clean this properly, rotate the ring around the ball counter-clockwise to remove it. Extract the ball and clean the space inside. Pay particular attention to the rollers that make contact with the ball itself. Additionally, if your mouse is old enough to use a PS/2 connector, (i.e. a round plug) be warned that you’ll have to reboot your computer after you plug it back in.
Hopefully, you’ll agree that the process of cleaning your mouse is really quite simple. Taking care of it regularly will speed the job up and keep the total amount of gunk you have to remove to a minimum. It’ll also keep your mouse working smoothly for as long as possible, of course!