How to best clean your gaming mouse, keyboard, and controllers

By Steven Rondina


Dec 25, 2020

Reading time: 3 min

High-touch surfaces are among the dirtiest places in one’s household, and for any gamer, computer mouses, keyboards, and controllers are all included in that category. The trouble is that unlike faucets, light switches, and doorknobs, electronic accessories can be really tough to clean.

Though it does take more time and effort, it doesn’t have to be too bad if you’ve got the right tools. Here’s how to keep your gaming sessions squeaky clean.

How to clean a computer mouse

  • Wipe down with alcohol wipes
  • Use toothpick or needle to scrape out ridges
  • Clean ridges with cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol

Cleaning a computer mouse is relatively straightforward, but can be a bit time-intensive. The first part is the easiest, wiping the larger surfaces of the mouse with an alcohol wipe. Though your mouse might not look dirty, odds are that you’ll feel a bit grossed out after going over your mouse with a wipe.

From there, it gets tricker. Most computer mice have two parts to the shell which are snapped or screwed together. This typically leaves a ridge that surrounds the entirety of the mouse, and can be difficult to clean.

The best way clean this is taking a toothpick and running it through the seam, ideally scraping along the sides as well, followed by the small cracks around the mouse wheel and between the mouse buttons. Any fine-pointed object can be used, such as a pin or a SIM card ejector tool. Finish things off by dipping a cotton swab in alcohol and rubbing it alongside those ridges to sanitize the area.

How to clean a keyboard

  • Use compressed air to clean area behind keys
  • Change angles, and do it again
  • Use cotton swab with alcohol to wipe between keys

Compared to a computer mouse, cleaning a keyboard is easy. All you need to do is blast it with compressed air, tilt your keyboard, and then blast it again. This should remove most of the dust, hair, crumbs, and other little bits of nastiness out from beneath the keys. Using compressed air isn’t entirely easy, as just blowing it with impunity will cause it to become encased in frost, so use short bursts.

From there it’s just a matter of using a moistened cotton swab, preferably one covered with rubbing alcohol. Scrub out the area between the keys to complete the procedure.

How to clean video game controllers

  • Wipe down surfaces with alcohol wipes
  • Use toothpicks to floss out crevices
  • Use cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol on sticks and buttons

Cleaning out a video game controller is generally the same as cleaning out a computer mouse, but there are literally more moving parts to work around and thus a few more precautions that must be taken.

Wipe down the surfaces with an alcohol wipe to remove residue from your hands. Use a toothpick on the ridges of the shell, the crevices around the buttons, the holes for the speakers, and any other nooks the controller may have. Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and mold it to wipe out those ridges. A bit of rubbing alcohol around the buttons can help unglue any stickiness you’re experiencing.

Do take care, though. While rubbing alcohol will evaporate quickly, one should never be overly enthusiastic about introducing a liquid into any kind of circuitry. Additionally, avoid taking a cotton swab to the USB or headphone jacks of controllers. Though using alcohol can help clean rusted contacts, getting bits of cotton caught up in the jacks can potentially ruin a controller.


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