If you can’t seem to click where you want to no matter how hard you try, the culprit is likely a dirty roller mouse or poor surface for a laser mouse. Rid your mouse of dirt, grime, stickiness and other icky things by following these steps.
Turn off your computer or unplug your mouse
Do whichever is more convenient for you. They main goal here is to avoid electrocuting yourself or damaging your computer while you clean the mouse.
Flip the mouse over and remove the ball if necessary
If your mouse is one of the traditional types that rolls on top of a ball, you will need to take the ball out of it in order to clean it thoroughly. You should be able to twist or slide off the plastic ring that is holding the ball in and remove it fairly easily. There should be arrows printed on the ring telling you which way to rotate it to take it off. Be careful that when you remove the ball and the ring you put them in a safe place. You don’t want to have to dig out the ball when it rolls under the desk.
If your mouse is optical (it uses a laser instead of a ball), just flip it over. Now wasn’t that easy?
If your mouse is a track ball (the kind where the ball is on top of the mouse) you should be able to simply lift the ball out of it. As with the traditional mouse, be careful where you set the ball so you can find it later. You can also flip it over and clean the bottom of the mouse if you so choose.
Clean the inside of the mouse
For a traditional or trackball mouse
Once you’ve removed the ball from the mouse, you’ll see that there are some components inside the mouse that may be dusty or dirty. You can clean these components by either wiping the dirt and debris off with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol (but not dripping wet. You don’t want any liquid remaining inside your mouse!) or by using a toothpick, pin or needle to gently scrape it off. Don’t worry if the loose debris falls further inside the mouse. Just flip the mouse over and give it a good tap and it should fall out through the hole in the bottom.
*If neither of these methods is working for you, you can try to flush out the debris by using a can of compressed air. Be sure to hold the can at least three or four inches away from the mouse when you use it. Also, always hold the can of air upright. It contains harmful chemicals that could leak out if it’s not handled carefully.
For an optical mouse
You shouldn’t have to clean the area of your optical mouse that contains the laser. However, if the hole is seriously plagued with dust and dirt, you can dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and carefully sponge out the hole. Also, you can use the swab to clean the pads on the bottom of the mouse. Then wipe them on a cloth or piece of paper to remove any remaining grime.
*Don’t try to take your mouse apart to clean the insides. It is more hassle than it’s worth and you’ll have a heck of a time trying to put it back together.
Wash the top and sides of the mouse
Use a handkerchief, old t-shirt, microfiber cloth or other cloth that does not shed fuzz to wipe off the outside of the mouse. You can either dip the cloth in rubbing alcohol or use lukewarm tap water. (If you’d like, you can take about a teaspoon of dish soap for hand washing and mix it together with the tap water in the sink or a small bowl to form a cleaning solution).
The cloth should simply be damp. If it’s dripping wet, wring it out before tackling the mouse. You don’t want to risk getting any water inside of it. Grab your trusty toothpick, pin or needle again if you need to get dirt or dust out of any of the cracks.
If you took the ball out of your mouse, use this opportunity to grab it and give it a good wiping off with the rag too. And if you put together a mixture of lukewarm water and dish soap, you can dunk your mouse pad in it and scrub it clean with a sponge.
Wipe the mouse dry
Use a clean and dry cloth to wipe off any excess cleaning solution or water from the outside of the mouse before you hook it back up to the computer or turn the computer back on, and if your mouse has a ball, dry that off as well.
If you accidentally got liquid inside the mouse, you will have to leave it out on the counter or table to air dry, which may take a day or more. If you’re lucky and it still works after it dries, write it off to chance, but don’t do it again.
Reattach the ball (if necessary) and plug the mouse back in or restart the computer
That’s it. You now have a nice, shiny, clean mouse to work with. Just plug it back in or turn the computer back on and get to clicking.
Keeping your mouse clean
No matter what you do, your mouse will get dirty from regular use, so it’s a good idea to clean it every couple weeks, or more if you work in a particularly dusty or dirty area. The cleaner you keep your work area, the longer you can put it off. Can’t stand to scrub that dirty mouse one more time? Don’t forget; mice are fairly inexpensive to replace.