How to Clean a Desk Mat Properly?

Wiping desk mat (Source: Unsplash)

We touch our mouse and keyboards daily for work and personal use. Imagine all the dirt, oils, and sweat deposited on them.

The desk mat we use can get as dirty as our arms as we lay our arms on the desk mats all day to type. So, how to clean the desk mat?

Should you scrub it away with soap and water? Or does it require a more delicate approach?

Generally to clean desk mats, wash using hands or washing machine. Equipment like microfiber cloth, gentle brushes, and products like a mild cleaner, dish soap, and detergent can also clean the desk mat.

Cleaning desk mat
Cleaning desk mat (Source: steelcase.com)

This article will provide a complete guide on cleaning different types of desk mats with the correct products.

Why Should you Clean a Desk Mat?

Desk mats suffer wear and tear due to the frequent movement of mice and our arms over them.

Over time, it collects dirt, dust, sweat, and germs from our hands. Some of us also have a habit of eating and drinking as we work.

We place our coffee mugs and drinks right on our desks on our desk mat. So, over time the desk mat also stains and collects food crumbs and liquid spillage stains.

Your desk mat might look clean but try this on your desk mat to see how dirty it is.

Scratch your desk mat lightly with your nails; if you see a discolored stain where you scratched, your desk mat has collected dirt and dust over time.

A dirty desk mat can make it difficult to move your mouse smoothly across the desk pad, reducing mouse speed and accuracy.

Pink desk mat
Pink desk mat (Source: Etsy)

You might also notice some friction in your hands when you type, keeping your hands over the desk mat.

Our hands can transfer germs and bacteria to the desk mat, dirt, and oils.

According to Dr. Charles P. Gerba, a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, a desk has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.

Microscopic bacteria
A diagram of a microscopic bacteria (Source: Pixabay)

Therefore, you should always keep your desk mat clean for a better typing experience and sanitation.

Can You Wash a Desk Mat?

You can clean desk mats by washing them using water. However, you cannot wash all desk mats as usual. For instance, RGB desk mats contain electric components, and water can damage them.

Also, you cannot wash leather and suede desk mats. You can only wipe them out. Leather can crack and wrap if the moisture remains on the leather for a long time.

Types of Desk Mats

Before you determine how to clean your desk mat, you should first know its types.

Read the table below to differentiate between the two and determine the best one for you.

Hard desk matSoft desk mat
Hard mats can be plastic or metal and have no cushioningSoft desk mats have a softer feel with fabric cushioned by rubber.
They are mainly used for their look and durability.They are mainly used for the ergonomic benefits; of wrist and hand support.
They are easier to cleanThey are difficult to clean
Gamers prefer hard desk mats due to the smoothness of the surfaceDue to their softness, soft desk pads can cause friction and slow down the gameplay.
Materials: Plastic, metal, vinyl, glassMaterials: Leather, Suede, Fabric

How to Clean a Desk Mat Properly?

Desk mats have different materials, and features, so different equipment and cleaning methods are required for different types of desk mats.

1. Cleaning Soft Desk Mats (Except Leather and Suede)

You can wash soft desk mats like cloth and felt desk mats by hand or with a washing machine.

Cleaning Soft Desk Mats by Hand Using a Detergent

You can wash soft desk mats except for leather and suede by hand, like washing rugs or clothes.

However, they do require a gentle to mild detergent or cleaner.

Follow the steps below to clean the desk mat using detergent.

  • Fill a tub or sink with cold or warm water.
  • Be careful not to add hot water as it damages the fibers of the desk mat.
  • Add mild detergent to the water.
  • Dip the mat in the water and gently scrub the dirt with a soft brush.
  • If your desk mat is stained, you might need to soak it before scrubbing.
  • Rinse well and leave to dry. The desk mat will dry in about 24 hours.

Note: Make sure you use gentle scrubbing while cleaning.

Cleaning Soft Desk Mats by Hand Using Baking Soda

Baking soda is a gentle abrasive that can scrub the dirt off the desk mat.

According to the research, baking soda works comparable to a commercial cleaner for polyester and works well on cotton for cleaning and stain removal.

Follow the steps below to clean the desk mat using baking soda.

  • Use the lint roller to roll off any loose fabric.
  • Fill a tub or sink with warm water.
  • Add one to two tablespoons of baking soda and soak the desk mat.
  • Let it soak for about 20 minutes. Change the water a few times.
  • Rinse the desk mat. Use a clean towel to wipe the desk mat.
  • Use the lint brush again.
Baking Soda
Baking Soda (Source: Amazon)

Cleaning Soft Desk Mats by Hand Using Dish Soap

Dish soaps work great in removing the layer of dirt and grime accumulated within the fiber strands.

Follow the steps below to clean a desk mat using dish soap.

  • Wet the desk mat and the sponge with warm water.
  • Put a little dish soap on the sponge and wipe the desk mat.
  • Rinse away until the soap is gone.
  • Repeat if there are spots. Place the desk mat on a dry cloth to dry.

Cleaning Soft Desk Mats by Machine

You can clean your soft desk mats in a washing machine. However, make sure to use the cold water as the heat and friction can harm the rubber backing of the mat.

You can clean all cloth desk mats in a washing machine. The washing machine is incredibly safe for desk mats with stitched edges as the stitch won’t loose quickly.

Follow these steps to clean your desk mat using a washing machine.

  • Place your desk mat in the washing machine.
  • Use a mild detergent. Run the washing machine in a cold cycle.
Using a washing machine (Source: Unsplash)

After cleaning the desk mat, you can dry it by sitting it in a dry area.

Never use a dryer or sunlight to dry the desk mat. They can fade out the color of the desk mat quickly.

Twenty-four hours is needed to dry the desk mat thoroughly because the water penetrates between the rubber backing.

Removing Stains from Soft Desk Mats

Read the table below to know what products can remove stains from the soft desk mats.

Types of stainStain removers Steps for stain removal
Food and liquid stainsDawn Gentle Clean Dishwashing Liquid1. Mix dish soap with a bucket of water to foam.
2. Dip a clean microfiber and rub the stain using gentle circular motions.
3. Wipe with a wet cloth and let it air dry.
Oil stains Roll over image to zoom in OxiClean Max Force Laundry Stain Remover Spray1. Spray oxiclean on the oil stain.
2. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
3. Wipe using a wet cloth.
4. Let the desk mat air dry.
Coffe stainsTide To Go Instant Stain Remover1. Take a dry towel and soak up any spilled coffee.
2. Press and rub the tip on the stain several times.
Adhesive stains Spray N'Wash Pre-treat Laundry Stain Remover1. Spray it over the adhesive stain.
2. Let it sit for a few minutes.
3. Dip a cloth in soapy water and rub the area.
4. Use clean wet cloth to wash the desk pad.
Ink stainsTide Ultra Stain Release High Efficiency Liquid 1. Apply the detergent on the stain and rub using a soft bristled toothbrush.
2. Wash the desk mat in washing machine with tide detergent.

2. Cleaning Hard Desk Mats

Hard desk mats like plastic, vinyl, and glass desk mats need gentle cleaning.

You can clean them by wiping or using alcohol.

Cleaning Hard Desk Mats Using Only Water

You can clean hard desk mats by wiping them down.

  • Use a clean, dry rag and wipe the dust layer off the desk mat.
  • Dip a microfiber cloth in clean water and wipe down the mat.
  • Dry the mat using a dry cloth.

Cleaning Hard Desk Mats Using Rubbing Alcohol

You can use rubbing alcohol on hard plastic desk mats to clean the mat and remove yellow discolorations.

Follow the steps below for cleaning hard desk mats using rubbing alcohol.

  • Take a microfiber cloth and pour little rubbing alcohol into it.
  • You can also spray the alcohol onto the cloth.
  • Wipe the desk mat in circular motions.
  • Take a dry microfiber cloth and wipe the desk mat dry.

Cleaning Hard Desk Mats Using Sprays or Wipes

Cleaning spray or wipes can clean hard desk mats, specifically plastic ones.

Follow the steps below to clean hard desk mats using sprays or wipes.

  • Spray the desk mat with cleaning spray and wipe with a microfiber cloth.
  • Use the disinfecting wipe to clean the germs further. Let the desk mat air dry.
Wiping desk mat (Source: Unsplash)

You can also clean hard desk mats using a gentle cleaner like vinyl desk mats.

To clean the hard desk mat put the cleaner into a spray can. Spray it over and wipe with a clean cloth.

Removing Stains from Hard Desk Mats

Here is how you remove stains from hard desk mats.

Types of stainStain Removers for hard desk matsSteps for stain removal
Ink Dye StainIsopropyl Alcohol1. Dip a cotton ball into the alcohol.
2. Rub using circular motions.
Dirt stainBaby wipesWipe the stain with the baby wipes.
Mineral stains on glass desk matDistilled White Vinegar1. Mix distilled vinegar with water in a mug.
2. Use a clean microfiber cloth to rub the mixture on the stain.
Scuff marks on vinyl desk matWD-40 Multi-Use Product1. Spray into the stain.
2. Let it stay for 5 minutes.
3. Wipe using a dry cloth.
Food stainsMild soap1. Mix handsoap with water.
2. Rub the stain using a clean cloth dipped in the mixture.
3. Wash using a wet cloth.

3. Cleaning Leather and Suede Desk Mats

It would be best if you cleaned leather mats with caution. You should not put them inside a washing machine.

Leather can absorb water quickly; when it does, the water mixes with the oil molecules in leather.

As the leather dries, the oils will evaporate with the water molecules leaving the leather brittle.

Leather Desk Mat
Leather Desk Mat (Source: Amazon)

Water damage can also leave the leather desk mat streaky, discolored, and spot. As for suede, water can also discolor suede.

You can keep your leather and suede desk mat as good as new if you clean them using the correct methods mentioned below.

Cleaning  Leather Desk Mat Using Soap

Soap is safe to use on leather desk mats. However, remember not to drench the desk mat in soap water.

Here are the steps to clean leather and suede desk mats.

  • Make a soap water solution with mild soap.
  • Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the leather desk mat with the soap solution.
  • Use circular motions to wipe the mat down.
  • If you have to use a brush, you can use a soft-bristled one.
  • Avoid scrubbing hard if the leather desk mat has stitched edges, as it may cause the stitch to fray.
  • Rinse the pad and let it dry naturally.

Cleaning Leather and Suede Desk Mat Using Vinegar

Vinegar can eliminate germs, dust, and even stains on leather.

Follow the steps below to clean a leather desk mat using vinegar.

  • Mix an equal amount of water and vinegar.
  • Take a microfiber cloth and dip it in the solution.
  • Wipe the desk mat with a microfiber cloth.
  • Let it air dry.

Removing Stains from Leather and Suede Desk Mat

Leather and suede desk mats are sensitive to moisture and require special cleaning methods.

Removing stains also requires gentle products, as mentioned in the table below.

Types of stainStain remover
Sanitizer stainLeather Cleaner and Leather Conditioner Kit
Grease, Oil and Coffee StainsTalcumPowder
Water stainsUse only microfibre cloth
Ink, Mildew and Paint stainsSolimo 99% Isopropyl Alcohol
Liquid and Sweat stains (Juice/ Sugary liquids)Dawn Dish Soap
Food Stains
Vaseline Petroleum Jelly
Rust stainsSalt and Vinegar

Also, watch the video for more tips,

4. Cleaning RGB Desk Mats

RGB desk mats include electronic parts and should be kept from water and moisture.

So, you cannot clean the RGB desk mat by washing machine.

Follow these steps to clean the RGB desk mat safely.

  • First, you should unplug your desk mat.
  • Take a soft sponge and wet it with water.
  • Use gentle hand soap on the sponge and scrub the desk mat.
  • Remember not to get close to the edges.
  • Take a clean piece of cloth and wipe away the soapy water.
  • Use a dry cloth to dry the RGB desk mat. Allow it to dry naturally for 24 hours.
  • If there are any stains on the RGB desk mat, use a cloth dipped in gentle soap and water mixture and scrub lightly.

Read more: How to clean RGB mousepads?

5. Cleaning White Desk Mats

White desk mats require more care than darker desk mats while cleaning. Using the wrong products and methods to clean them can cause discoloration, color transfer, or dullness of the desk mats.

Here are some tips on cleaning a white desk mat.

  • First, determine the material type of desk mat and choose the above-stated methods to clean them.
  • Use bleach, dish wash liquid, or gentle soap to clean the white desk mat.
  • Do not use colored cloths to clean the desk mat as the color might transfer.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals to clean the white desk mat.
  • Use baking soda or cornstarch to clean oil stains on leather white desk mats.
  • Use leather milk on a white leather desk mat to keep them from yellowing.
White Desk Mat
White Desk Mat (Source: Amazon)

How Often to Clean a Desk Mat?

You should clean your desk mat every few months to increase its life.

Darker-colored desk mats won’t be visibly dirty but can collect dirt over time. So, wash the desk mat every two months to keep it fresh.

Meanwhile, keep the cleaning minimum if you use a leather or suede desk mat. Similarly, clean the leather or suede desk mats once every three months using minimum water.

Tips to Keep Desk Mats Clean

  • Clean the desk pad frequently.
  • Use a damp paper towel to quickly wipe the dust off your desk mat when they appear dusty.
  • Do not place food or drinks over the desk mat.
  • Avoid spilling any liquid on the desk mat. Use a cup cover to cover your drinks when placed nearby.
  • You can also use a coaster if you urgently need to place your drink on the desk mat.
  • Keep your pets away from your work desk. Their sharp nails can easily scratch the desk mat.
  • Use a handheld vacuum cleaner to remove crumbs and loose dirt from desk mats before cleaning them.
  • Use fabric protectors on desk mats to prevent staining from liquids.
Clean work Desk
Clean work Desk (Source: Etsy)

FAQs About Cleaning Desk Mat

How to Sanitize Desk Mats?

Cleaning a desk mat does not only mean cleaning the dust and dirt off the desk mat. The desk mat should be free of germs and viruses too.

You should appropriately sanitize the desk mats to free them from germs and the coronavirus.

You can use wipes like Lysol disinfecting wipes on any desk mat to sanitize it.

Wipe the desk mat with the wipe and let it dry.

Can I Put the Desk Mat on the Dryer?

You should not put the desk mat on the dryer. The high temperature can damage the rubber backing of the desk mat.

Rubber has a low melting point of 180 degrees Celsius. So, it can quickly melt. You should air-dry the desk mat.

Owning a second pair is always a good idea, so you do not have to rush the drying process.

A clean desk mat
A clean desk mat (Source: Amazon)

Final Verdict

You need to pay attention to cleaning desk accessories like desk mats and mouse pads as they collect as much dirt as your mouse and keyboards.

It is not hard to clean your desk mat; they only require cleaning once every two to three months.

However, do not treat every desk mat as one and use specific products for each material type.

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