Even though mouse pads are slick out of the box, there’s no doubt that they all become grippy and sluggish at some point. What once was a mouse pad with fast glide now feels like you are dragging your mouse through the mud.

This is a problem a lot of PC players face, whether it is a few weeks or a year after taking the mouse pad out of the box.

However, your gaming sessions don’t always have to be a workout for your wrist and your aim doesn’t have to suffer. There are ways to restore speed to a mousepad and make it feel as good as new. It is also important to know why some mouse pads slow down faster than others and the causes of the problem called “mud-pad”.

Cause #1 Dirt and dust

Whatever your hands pickup throughout your day will end up on your mouse pad most of the time. Increase of friction in the cloth surface is what causes the “sluggish” and “grippy” feeling. Dust from our skin collects in the fibres of the mouse pad which will cause more friction between the mouse feet and the cloth surface of the mouse pad.

This study shows that the surface of the mouse pad can sometimes be only 0.2mm to 0.8mm thick which is thin enough to be affected by dust and dirt. (https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/80/dd/2b/67d5da51e1eb94/US5217781.pdf). Dust accumulates very fast in small rooms, especially if there are multiple people using it like a home office for example.

Dirty mousepad

Any dirt that you pick up on your hands throughout your day will be transplanted directly into your mouse pad and contribute to the increase in friction. Dirt and dust accumulates over time, after a few weeks there will be a noticeable effect on the mouse pad glide.

A good trick is to keep airflow moving throughout your room. This will lessen dust build up on your mousepad. However dust accumulation directly from your hands can’t be avoided. Remember to wash your dirty hands before playing games.

Cause #2 Sweat and hand oils

Sweaty hands while gaming

Perhaps one of the biggest contributing factors to a “sluggish” mouse pad is sweat and hand oils. My hands sweat while playing games a lot during the Summer, which is the time where my mouse pads are the slowest. Sweat not only dampens the pad but it also makes the fibres stick together and create more grip when swiping the mouse.

Sweat from hands while playing games can be lessened by a few simple tricks which I cover in my article here (link). One of the effective solutions is to provide as much airflow to your palms as possible. This can be achieved either with a small USB fan that sits on your desk or a gaming mouse with a honeycomb shell.

Not only do hands soak the mousepad in sweat, but also in hand oils. The oils naturally excreted from your skin on your hands can be soaked up by the mousepad. Eventually leading to fibres within the cloth that stick together more. If you play games with your entire hand rested on the mousepad, that is more surface area that will be affected by sweat and oil accumulation.

My recommendation?

  • Wash out any accumulated sweat and hand oils with the washing method down below.
  • Use a USB fan pointed at your hands to prevent sweating.
  • Gaming mice with honeycomb shells provide great airflow through the mouse into your palms. This is something standard mice can’t do.

Cause #3 Food and drink

Food and drink

Let’s be honest: we have all spilled something on our mousepad before. Whether it is food or drink, any foreign substance that you spill on to your mousepad can increase the friction. Foods contain oils that can make fibres stiff and drinks also make the mousepad sticky. I recommend you wash your mousepad after either of these incidents, I will explain how to below.

Cause #4 Humidity

Humid

Humidity is the mousepad killer. A humid climate will increase the amount of dampness in your mousepad and prevent it from drying fast. Typically this means you will continue sweating slowly onto the mousepad which doesn’t evaporate because of the humid climate.

Unfortunately some countries are more humid than others and the only thing you can do is to keep the windows open or buy a dehumidifier. My personal experience with dehumidifiers is that they take very long times to extract moisture from the air and it’s just not efficient. Some mousepads are better than others.

  • Use a humidifier to reduce the moisture in the room
  • Keep windows open for more airflow in humid climates.
  • Turn the air conditioning on to lower the humidity.

Cause #5 Wear and Tear

Old mousepad

Another big factor when it comes to increase of friction on mousepads is how worn down the pad is. Some mousepads take longer to wear down depending on the material, but once worn down will become much slower than initial box glide.

Multiple mouse pads also come with a coating on the surface which provides a faster glide. However, when this coating wears off, the fall off in speed is very noticeable. This Mousepad spreadsheet (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1RAnmZxDNduaGV8kB-GCvZ0MO6d9-0j9jmrU2f8dp0Ww/edit#gid=1671520511) shows which products have coatings and which do not. Each mouse pad is unique and has its own glide lifespan. Some of them may take a year to lose glide, while others only a few weeks.

Flip your mouse pad if it has become old and worn down. This will give you a fresh new surface to use again.

Cause #6 High Friction Mousepad (GSRs)

High friction mousepad

If your mousepad feels “sluggish”, perhaps you have one that is on the higher friction side and is noticeable now because it is broken in. Here is a spreadsheet of high friction mouse pads https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1tvxfp5XilLAM3ZpinHN_VvsxjoiFyghOGqy_MyHVXOo/edit#gid=0). It usually takes a week to break in a mousepad to a consistent speed, out of the box speed is very fast and will not last long.

  • Choose a mousepad that has a lower friction to prevent a “grippy” feeling after wearing in.
  • Try a hybrid pad or a hardpad. There is a large variety of low friction mouse pads on the market.

Cause #7 Worn Down Mouse Feet

Mousefeet

You don’t want to overlook if the mouse feet are worn down because it can dramatically change the speed and friction when moving the mouse.

Check the plastic mouse feet at the bottom of your mouse and see if they have become very thin. The thinner the plastic is the more worn down they have become. Although it takes months to wear in mouse feet and it also depends on the surface.

  • You can swap out old mouse feet for a new set that usually comes in the box that you purchased your mouse.
  • Many retailers sell PTFE mouse feet which are pure teflon and are much slicker than stock. This material will have less friction when gliding.

Cause #8 Dirty And Faulty Sensor

Sometimes your mouse is simply just too old. Old mice have sensors that are faulty and past their time. Much dust can be stuck in the mouse sensor after using it for so long, this will change how fast your mouse tracks movement on the mousepad.

Personally I have experienced the Zowie EC2-A slow down after a couple years of use, this was because the sensor was deteriorating. Once I switched to a newer version of the mouse the problem disappeared.
Check your sensor for any dust stuck inside.
Upgrade to mice with better sensors.

How To Wash Your Mousepad

Here’s a quick and detailed step by step guide on how to clean your mousepad.

  1. Soak your mousepad in warm water. This will start to release anything that is keeping the fibres together.
  2. Grab a microfiber cloth with a generous amount of body soap then gently rub the surface of the mousepad on the main parts that you use. The microfiber cloth is important so there’s no excess fluff put into the mousepad. If you don’t have one then use a hand towel or tea towel.
  3. Repeatedly wash off any dirty water and continue rubbing the surface under warm water. Do this for roughly 5 minutes.
  4. Drain any water from the mousepad and hang it up to dry. Use a fan pointed at it to speed up the process.

Conclusion

If you consider these fixes then you are on your way to a mouse pad that is slick and doesn’t feel like you’re dragging your mouse through the mud. To keep consistent and fast mousepad glide requires some upkeep, I suggest washing your mouse pad every few months or whenever it starts to slow down too much.