How to Clean a Mouse Wheel Without Taking It Apart?

If you spend most of your day around a computer, be it for work or entertainment, you are bound to run into mouse-related problems after using the same mouse for a year or two. The most common is a clogged-up mouse scroll-wheel.

A sticky mouse wheel is not entirely uncommon and is definitely not the end of the world. However, it does negate productivity if the mouse starts being a little unresponsive.

So today, we are going to take a look at a non-invasive way of cleaning the mouse wheel, one that does not require you to take apart a mouse and one that is applicable for most mouse models.

Before We Begin

No matter how spick and span your desk area is, your mouse is bound to pick up dirt and debris with regular use. Even more so if there is more than one user, children, or pets.

Therefore, it is almost inevitable that our mouse would end up with a very sticky wheel with use, especially if it is used constantly. Luckily, this can all be sorted out just by cleaning out the mouse wheel chamber. It does not require a whole lot of effort either.

For most models, the mice wheel is most likely the weakest link in the whole device. Every other part of the mouse works fine long after the wheels wear out. Avoid stretching the rubber on the wheel to try to clean it out, as that will only hasten the wearing process.

The things we will need for this process are a microfiber cleaning cloth, some rubbing alcohol (isopropyl), a canister of compressed air (not mandatory but helps clean out the insides without being invasive), toothpicks, a lint roller, a sticky roller, Q-tips, and some rags.

While we take away our mouse for cleaning, we could use a pocket mouse as a backup for the time being.

Now, let us begin!

General Steps in Cleaning out the Mouse Scroll-Wheel

The following steps can be applied to most mouse models. However, if there is a certain mouse you are not entirely comfortable enough to do a cleaning run on, we recommend that you take it to an expert or return it for service to the dealers who sell that particular mouse.

That being said, the following steps are quite non-invasive. You do not have to go about disassembling the mouse and worry about the wires and the sensitive components that lie within. All of the cleaning will be carried out on the surface.

Step 1: Clean Your Mousepad

This step may seem rudimentary, but it is very important. You would not want to return your freshly cleaned mouse to a dirty mousepad. We do not want to return ourselves back to square one. The pad is usually composed of two materials, cloth, and rubber.

And the cloth makes up the surface on which you place and use your mouse. Take the lint roller and keep rolling it on the mouse pad until all visible specks of dust have disappeared from the surface. Lint rollers are ideal for ridding cloth of dust and fur.

Use some compressed air to clean out the underside of the mousepad. We use air in this portion because the lint roller is not as effective on rubber.

Step 2: Clean the Underside of Your Mouse

Now we get to the mouse itself. If it is a wired mouse, power down your computer first. Proceed to detach the mouse from the computer port. If the mouse is wireless, remove the wireless adapter/dongle from the computer. Proceed to take out the batteries next. All of these are a precautionary measure to prevent short-circuits.

Take special note of the mouse feet. They might prove to be obstructive on an otherwise flat surface. Make sure that they do not come off whilst you are cleaning.

Important: You can choose to temporarily remove the mouse feet/surface pad at this stage to aid the cleaning process. Remove the pads or stickers carefully so that you can reuse them. The underside is the adhesive portion. Try not to let this adhesive portion touch anything other than the mouse surface it is meant to go on.

Dip a Q-tip in rubbing alcohol and apply on any crevices that lie along the bottom surface. This helps in removing grits that may have found themselves lodged in these crevices.

Step 3: Clean the Top Surface of Your Mouse

Do a small run on the top of the mouse with the microfiber cloth. This will remove small dust particles and dirt from the surface. Dip a piece of rag in rubbing alcohol. Proceed to wipe down the top surface with the rag. This will remove all oil along with any dirt that resisted the initial run with a microfiber cloth.

As before, repeat the step involving the Q-tip. However, this time take special care not to rub too hard on the top. We would not want to accidentally remove any printed characters, symbols. Try not to let the alcohol seep in through the cracks that exist between the buttons.

Step 4: Clean the Mouse Scroll-Wheel

Contrary to popular belief, it is not very difficult or tedious to clean the scroll-wheel. All that is needed is that you exercise a certain level of caution from here onwards.

Hold the mouse under a bright light source. Gently spin the wheel around and look for build-ups of dirt and grime. Take a Q-tip and dip it in rubbing alcohol. Proceed to rub it all over the circumference of the scroll will. This will help remove some of the dirt and grime and loosen up some of those hard build-ups.

Gently slide a toothpick along the ridges of the scroll wheel. Be sure to slide outwards, away from the mouse. This helps remove the gross build-up along the ridges. Take care not to break the toothpick. Wipe away any excess that may have fallen on the outside of the mouse.

Step 5: Do a Final Wipe

Do a final wipe down of the mouse. Check the cracks and crevices one last time under a bright light source. Do a test run of the scroll wheel. The scrolling action should have improved by now. There should be less resistance when turning the wheel compared to the state before cleaning.

We are almost done. Replace the batteries (if it is a wireless mouse). Reconnect the cable (if the mouse is wired) or the wireless adapter/dongle to an available port. Power up your computer and make sure you have connected the mouse properly. That is it. We have successfully cleaned out the mouse scroll wheel.   


We hope that our article on how to clean a mouse wheel was helpful. If you still have questions or confusion, don’t hesitate to comment below, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Now that you know the process, get started right now. And if you’re interested to know how to copy paste without a mouse, you can follow our previous post.

Good luck!

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