Copyright 2010 by Morris Rosenthal -All Rights Reserved
How to Clean Mouse Rollers so it Moves Properly
I can't tell you how many people have mentioned to me that they bought a
new mouse because the old one died. Some people even buy multiple mice at
a time, since their mouse fails on a regular basis. In my experience, mice
almost never break, they just get dirty. If your mouse only moves in one
direction (on one axis) on the screen, it means a roller is dirty. If it
stutters and is hard to control, it means the rollers are wrapped in lint.
It takes two minutes to clean a mouse and get it back into perfect working
condition, and the first step is to remove the plate that retains the ball.
Just twist it in the direction of the arrow.
Rotating Mouse Ball Lock
Exposed Mouse Ball
The first thing you'll see when you remove the mouse ball retainer is the
tracking ball. If you're holding the mouse on an angle, the first thing you
may see is the tracking ball rolling under the desk, but it's pretty bulletproof.
Here's the whole key to mouse repair. YOU DON'T HAVE TO WASH THE BALL. I
remember somebody telling me they cleaned their mouse a half dozen times
and it didn't help a bit. It turned out that somebody was washing the ball!
The purpose of the ball, which is heavy, is to mantain contact with the desktop
and mouse pad and transfer the motion to the rollers. The rollers are the
With the mouse ball removed, you can just see both rollers at the same time,
the black shapes at 10:00 and 1:00 in the picture to the right, with the
lint wrapped around them. The enemy of the mouse is lint, or dust, which
eventually spins itself into fairly solid strings that eventually gum up
the mouse motion. Some mice use more spring loading ticks than others to
keep the rollers in contact with the ball, so keep an eye on springs popping
out, but in most cases, mice are built pretty rugged and there's nothing
to hurt during a cleaning. The cup shape in the center is just to help position
the ball in the mouse.
Inside View of Mouse
Lint on Mouse Roller
Alright, not the nicest photo I've taken in my life, but your should see
pretty clearly the double rope of lint wrapped around the roller to the top
of the picture. The other roller was just as bad, it usually works out that
way. The rollers are pretty sturdy, I've never had one break on me when cleaning
a mouse. The ideal tool for the job is tweezers, but like most people, I
don't have a clue where any of the tweezers I've bought over the years are
and when it comes to cleaning mice (or removing splinters) I invairably end
up using a needle, or a knife.
In this case, I'm using a steak knife to loosen the lint on the roller. You
just peel a little off, pull it out if you have small fingers, or use a finger
against the tip of the knife (disclaimer, I don't recommend this unless you
can guarantee you won't cut yourself and bleed all over the works) to pull
the loosened lint out. You can also let it drop to the bottom then flip the
mouse over and tap it out on your hand. If you loose some lint into the mouse,
it's no big deal, just blow it out of the way. You don't need to start cleaning
the rollers with a cu-tip (spelling) and alcohol, just getting rid of the
majority of the lint will fix any problems.
Cleaning Mouse Roller
Replace Mouse Ball
Don't have a contest to see how high above the mouse you can drop the ball
from and have it go into the hole. I get the ball as close to the mouse as
I can and sort of roll it into place off the wall that doesn't have a roller,
but in any case, I've never broken one. If it looks to you like the ball
is sitting too low in the socket once you drop it in, it's because the mouse
is upside down. Once you reinstall the ball retainer and flip the mouse upside
up, the ball with be regulated to the proper height by the tapered round
hole in the retainer plate.The ball retainer is locked into place by turning
it the opposite of the direction you turned it to open the mouse. Wallah!
The mouse cleaning operation is finished, and if your mouse still doesn't
work properly, at least you know that it's not because the rollers are dirty:-)