It has happened to all of us. You are on the computer like usual, but notice that something is wrong with your mouse. It has problems registering your inputs. It starts to lose sensitivity. Is it the mouse? No, it works perfectly. The problem is that you have a dirty mousepad.
If you are lazy, you can try turning it upside-down and keep playing, but eventually, every part of it is bound to get dirty too. You have to clean the mousepad, but how can you do it without damaging it?
How to clean your mouse pad
The first thing you need to consider is the material your mouse pad is made of. There are roughly two big types of mousepads, hard ones made of metal or plastic, and soft ones made of cloth or fabric.
Cleaning a hard mousepad is easy. You can wash it pretty much as you would do a dirty plate. Wipe your pad with a wet towel, sponge, or cloth until it is clean, then wait for it to dry off. If you want to make sure your mousepad is extra clean, you can also add a bit of soap to the water. For this kind of material, it´s not necessary to use soap most of the time.
Soft mousepads are a bit more complicated, but not that much.
Grab a cloth, spray a bit of water into it, add some soap and just wipe your mousepad. Rinse the water away and wait. The only real difference is that it will take longer for your mousepad to dry up ( you can speed up the process with a towel or air dryer, but be mindful of not using too much heat lest you melt the glue holding the pad together or burn the fabric).
Remember to be gentle when you wash your mousepad. While it´s not exactly delicate, it's also not a piece of silverware. If you are too rough, you can crinkle or tear the fabric.
You might be thinking that this is a bit too easy. If mousepads are this simple to wash, why not toss them in the washing machine? Well, you can also do that, and it works nicely as long as its materials mesh well with the machine (don´t toss metal mousepads into washing machines). Just remember to use cold water, hot water will probably damage your pad.
Also, while the washing machine might be ok, the drier is not. The heat can melt the glue and well, disassemble your mousepad if it´s made of cloth.
But what if your pad has a wrist rest or RGB lights? Can you still clean it the same way?
Nothing really changes with a wrist rest. Just clean your mousepad like normal and gently wipe over the padded zone like if it was another normal part of your pad.
RGB mousepads are a bit trickier but follow the same principle. Be mindful not to soak them in water. Use only a somewhat wet cloth, and consider spraying it with a bit of alcohol instead of water to be extra careful. If possible, try to avoid touching or wiping over cables, lights, or the circuitry.
If you want to be even more cautious, use a toothbrush (or a normal brush), and well, try to brush it clean. Never, ever, toss an RGB mousepad into a washing machine, dishwasher, or any other cleaning device.
Now, this seems like quite a hassle, you might be thinking that it´s better to leave your mousepad as is. Should you even clean it?...
Can a dirty mousepad affect your gaming performance?
Yes, absolutely. A dirty mousepad will affect your mouse tracking, and therefore, pretty much everything you do on your computer. While tracking technology has advanced a lot from the days where there was a tracking ball underneath the mouse, even a modern laser can be fooled if the surface it´s moving across has crumbs, dirt, and other imperfections.
You could try to compensate by playing with the mouse´s DPI, but most of the time cleaning your pad will be the easier solution.
Even if you don´t eat near your computer and you always wash your hands before you play, tiny particles of dust and dead skin will accumulate on your pad. It´s not a matter of if you´ll have to clean your mousepad, but when.
And when should you clean it? If it looks dirty, then, of course, you should clean it. If you feel that your mouse is getting more sluggish or doesn´t detect your movements very well, that´s another sign that you should clean the pad before it gets worse.