How to Clean Your Mouse: An Illustrated Guide (TechSoup)

By: Michael Schrecker

One of the most common desktop support issues I have encountered as a nonprofit consultant is a misbehaving mouse. I’ve watched people struggle for untold minutes with a troublesome mouse in order to perform the simplest functions. While a software bug, a virus, a broken mouse, or a frayed mouse cable can produce similar effects, most often the problem is the result of a dirty mouse.

Many mice, especially older ones, contain a small rubber ball held in place by a set of rollers that detect the ball’s motion as the mouse moves back and forth across a desk. Over time, this ball picks up dust, oil, food debris, and other crud that accumulates on the rollers, interfering with their ability to register the ball’s movement, and causing balky, jumpy, stilted, or erratic cursor movements onscreen.

So before you search your system for viruses or crawl under your desk to inspect the cables, try following these simple steps to clean your mouse — an operation that requires little more than a fingernail. (The tip of a small flathead screwdriver or a wooden manicure stick will also work.).