hand of a man cleaning a dirty mouse

Your computer mouse is the dirtiest place in the office according to a recent study. That means keeping it clean is vital to help prevent the spread of germs that can make you sick.

With that in mind, keep reading to learn more about what makes your computer mouse dirty and what you can do to clean it effectively.

How does your computer mouse get dirty?

Viruses and bacteria

Coughs and colds make their way around the office all too easily.

All it takes is a sneeze into your hands — you carry on working, without thinking about it. Thousands of germs transfer to your mouse and can live on that surface for hours. If you share your computer with others, they’ll pick the germs up and get sick.

Even if you don’t have a cold — opening doors, flicking light switches, and preparing food in the kitchen can all harbor bacteria that can find its way from your hands to your mouse.


Hands get sweaty in hot weather, on a long telephone call, and after your lunchtime jog. Over time, the sweat from your palms builds up on your mouse, getting into the crevices of the buttons. The moist surface attracts dirt to stick to the top of your mouse.

Greasy and sticky foods

Most of us eat snacks at our desks.

Crumbs, grease, and sticky residues from food transfer to the mouse buttons from our fingertips and create an unpleasant, sticky surface.

Dirty desk surface

It’s not just the top of your mouse that gets dirty. The underside where the optical sensor detects the desk can get clogged up with grime.

How to clean your mouse

It only takes a few simple tools to keep your mouse clean.

Whether you use a traditional or an ergonomic mouse, the cleaning process is roughly the same and only takes a few minutes.

You’ll need:

  • Canned air
  • A gentle peripheral cleaner
  • A lint-free cloth

1. Unplug your computer mouse before you clean it.
2. Use the fine nozzle of your canned air and spray it sideways underneath the buttons. This should dislodge any dirt and allow it to escape.
3. To clean the surface and bottom of your mouse, take a microfiber cloth and spray a couple spritzes of a gentle cleaner (we like Screen Mom) directly onto the microfiber cloth (do not spray cleaner directly onto your mouse). Gently wipe over the surface of the mouse to kill germs and lift grease.

Note: To avoid breaking your mouse, never submerge it in water, or let cleaner drip into the inner workings of your mouse. Liquid can interfere with the electronics and prevent it from working correctly.

How often should you clean your mouse?

You now know just how dirty your mouse can be, so it’s vital to clean it regularly — at least once a month.

If other people use your computer, you may want to increase your cleaning schedule to once a week.

How to keep your mouse clean

Wash your hands regularly

This is good advice for everybody — washing your hands regularly prevents the spread of germs. Use a mild soap and wash your hands thoroughly. Wash after using the bathroom, after eating, and after handling dirty items.

Avoid eating greasy or sticky foods

We all love to snack and you might sometimes eat lunch at your desk if you’re on a tight deadline. Avoid doing this when you can.

Sticky food like chocolate can transfer to your mouse buttons. Greasy food like chips might spread grease on your mouse and desk, creating an unpleasant surface that attracts more dirt.

If you can’t avoid desk-eating, keep some hand wipes or hand sanitizer nearby to keep your hands clean.

Keep pets off your desk

Pets are great office companions but they leave behind a lot of hair. If they enjoy using your desk for their afternoon nap, this can trap hair in the mouse, underneath the buttons, and cover the sensor. If you can, try encouraging your pet to lay somewhere else.

Clean your mouse pad

Your fabric mouse pad’s surface is prone to germs and grime also. It’s the spot on your desk that picks up the most bacteria (apart from the mouse itself) so cleaning it is key to keeping your mouse clean.

For a cloth or fabric mouse pad, run it under a sink and use warm soapy water and use a nail brush or sponge to gently scrub the surface of the mouse pad. You’ll see how much dirt and grime comes off in the water! Once it’s clean, rinse in clean water and air dry with the bottom facing upwards.

In Summary

Your mouse harbors more bacteria than anything else on your desk. Clean it once a month at least, or after every use if you’re sharing it with others. You can:

  • Use canned air to clean crevices
  • Wipe down with a cloth and gentle cleanser

Dirt, grease, and fluff builds up with habits like eating and drinking at your desk. To keep it as clean as possible, try to:

  • Minimize eating sticky or greasy foods with your fingers
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Keep pets off your desk

For more tips on using your ergonomic mouse efficiently, check out the Goldtouch blog.