How to Clean Mouse Sensor: For Both Optical and Mechanical Mice

Cropped shot of professional cleaner in rubber gloves cleaning computer mouse on office table

Have you ever got annoyed due to the sluggish and erratic response of your computer mouse? Well, while the reason for it can be the draining battery, most of the time it is grime. This is when you need to know and follow how to clean mouse sensor.

Regardless of the type of mouse you hold, accumulation of grit and grime whether plain or dirt and dry or sticky is a common occurrence. This is likely to disable your mouse sensor slowly due to which the movement and other responses of your mouse are just not up to the mark.

Both mechanical and optical, whether wired or wireless, are susceptible to the accumulation of dirt and oils that come from the dust gathering on the mouse, trackpad, and in our palms.

At some point, all those who are using a computer will recognize the need to clean its mouse. When it is time to clean an optical mouse, the movement of its pointer shall become sporadic and that it is likely to jump for no reason across the screen.

On the other hand, when it is time to clean a mechanical or ball mouse, the mouse pointer will be sticking in a single position while moving it. This post will guide you on how to clean both these computer mice.

You will be happy to know the fact that it is very easy and straightforward to clean a computer mouse. It requires just 10 minutes to clean a ball mouse, while for an optical mouse, even less time is needed.

Overview of Basic Working of Computer Mouse

Before you proceed to clean your mouse, it is wise to comprehend what actually happens when your mouse becomes dirty. This will help you know the parts to clean along with the sensor. To know what actually happens when dirt accumulates, it is vital to know how a mouse works.

An optical mouse relies on light to track the cursor’s movement. The source of this light is an integrated Light Emitting Diode (LED) that reflects into a photodiode commonly known as a light sensor. Thus, an optical mouse uses an optical sensor and an LED for moving the pointer.

The disparities in the surface beneath the lens of the mouse are imaged as the mouse moves. Even the direction is computed and the movement is simulated by the pointer.

Now, if any outside object such as some dust particles or a hair comes in the middle of the light communication happening between the sensor and the LED, it results in an unanticipated behavior or an unsmooth movement.

On the other hand, a ball or a mechanical computer mouse works using a set of three rolling sensors. When you move such a mouse on a flat surface, the internal ball forces the rollers to turn.

Each rolling sensor is configured at a distinct angle. The turning of these rollers produces electronic signals that are then sent to the computer, which in turn, interprets them into the movement of the pointer.

Thus, the rolling sensors inside a mechanical mouse sense mouse movement. Any dust or debris on them can negatively affect the mouse movement.

In short, any piece of debris regardless of its size and mouse model can make your mouse sluggish. Thus, it is vital to keep the rollers and sensors inside the mouse clean.

Optical mouse

Cleaning the Optical Mouse Sensor

An optical mouse typically needs less maintenance than its traditional, ball-oriented counterpart. Still, it is essential to clean it once in a while. You will consume approximately five minutes for this task. Thus, it should not be an issue for you to clean it once every month.

This will ensure the smooth functioning of the mouse. Following are the steps to clean the optical mouse sensor:

  1. Switch off your computer.
  2. Unplug the mouse cable from the computer if it is a wired one. This will be usually connected to the USB port, as optical mice work via these ports. If you have such a mouse, you skip the first step. In the case of a wireless one too, there is no need to perform the first step.
  3. Flip the mouse and find the area where the lens and the LED are present.
  4. Gently blow off the dust or debris away from the lens area.
  5. Gently clean the lens area using a ball of cotton if you see a smudge on the lens.
  6. Inspect the surface on which your mouse works. If there is an intricate pattern underneath the mouse, it is then tough for the sensor to render the desired mouse movements. If it is a mouse pad, consider replacing it each year. Meanwhile, keep it clean.
  7. Re-insert the mouse cable into the computer.
  8. Switch on your computer.

You can even use a cotton ball whose end is soaked in some drops of apt cleaning fluid and then use it to wipe the area gently to remove any leftover or dust. However, do not put any pressure on the sensor or LED while doing so and avoid putting fluid directly on the mouse.

Further, no additional fluid should squeeze out of the ball into the mouse. Finally, use a dry cotton ball to wipe the area to make it dry. Before plugging the mouse, allow it to dry for approx. two minutes.

Cleaning a Mechanical Mouse Sensor

Following are the steps to clean a mechanical mouse sensor:

  1. Switch off the computer and disconnect the mouse.
  2. Flip the mouse.
  3. Detach the base plate holding the ball and detach the ball.
  4. Wipe the ball using a damp cloth.
  5. Use a pair of tweezers along with a can of air and clean the sensors inside. Grime usually accumulates around the sensing rollers whose removal is effective using tweezers. If there is sturdy filth covering the rollers, a knife is then required for its removal. Do also clean the cavity around the ball to remove hair, nails, and other residues.
  6. Restore the ball.
  7. Reconnect the mouse.


Knowing how to clean a mouse sensor means paving a way to dirt-free mouse with reliable movements. It is truly easy to clean your mouse, provided you know the right procedure.

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