How to Clean a Dirty Computer Mouse

Hand on computer mouse
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Aside from extending the life of and preventing damage to the mouse, properly cleaning a mouse will make it easier to use and prevent the cursor from "jumping around" on the screen due to dirty rollers.

An optical mouse, which uses a small laser to track movement, does not have a mouse ball or rollers and does not need the kind of cleaning that a "classic" mouse does. With an optical mouse, simply wiping clean the glass on the bottom of the mouse that houses the laser is usually enough of a cleaning process.

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Disconnect the Mouse From the PC

A picture of the bottom of a computer mouse
Computer Mouse.

Tim Fisher

Before cleaning, shut down your PC and remove the mouse from the computer. If you're using a ​wireless mouse, simply powering off the PC will be sufficient.

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Remove the Mouse Ball Cover

Picture of someone removing the trackball from a computer mouse
Removing the Trackball.

Tim Fisher

Rotate the ball cover until you feel resistance. Depending on the brand of mouse, this could be clockwise or counterclockwise.

Pick up the mouse and flip it over into your other hand. The cover and mouse ball should fall out of the mouse. If not, give it a little shake until it comes loose.

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Clean the Mouse Ball

Picture of a computer mouse and its removed trackball
The Trackball & Mouse.

Tim Fisher

Clean the mouse ball using a soft, lint-free cloth.

Pieces of hair and dust attach easily to the ball so be sure to sit it somewhere clean when you're finished wiping it off.

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Clean the Internal Rollers

Picture of a dirty computer mouse roller
Dirty Roller Close-Up.

Tim Fisher

Inside the mouse, you should see three rollers. Two of these rollers translate the mouse movement into instructions for the computer so the cursor can move around the screen. The third roller helps provide balance to the ball within the mouse.

These rollers can get extremely dirty thanks to all the dust and grime they pick up from the mouse ball while rolling for endless hours over your mousepad. On that note — cleaning your mousepad regularly can do wonders for keeping your mouse clean.

Using a tissue or cloth with some cleaning liquid on it, clean the rollers until all of the debris is removed. A fingernail works well also, without the cleaning liquid, of course! When you're sure that every bit is gone, replace the cleaned mouse ball and replace the mouse ball cover.

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Reconnect the Mouse to the PC

Picture of a plugged in USB computer mouse
Reconnecting a USB Mouse.

Tim Fisher

Reconnect the mouse to the PC and turn the power back on.

The pictured mouse utilizes a USB connection with the computer but older style mice may use other types of connections, like PS/2 or serial.

Test the mouse by moving the cursor in circles around the screen. Its movement should be very easy and any choppiness or other difficulties you may have noticed before should be gone thanks to the clean ball and rollers.

If the mouse does not work at all, check that the connection to the computer is secure and that the mouse ball cover was replaced properly.

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