the smooth mouse buttons syndrome
April 30, 2006 9:29 AM   Subscribe

I noticed that as times goes by, computer mice (and other plastic items) get used by skin friction. I notice my mice have "smooth" areas on their buttons that obviously seem to be there because of use. Is there a way to prevent that?

Now, that's not a big deal, but it's annoying, because, the mouse being smooth, my logical deduction is that finger grease or filth of some kind can be felt much much more easily when the surface is smooth. Maybe I'm crazy, but I noticed some kind of "dirt bumps" that can be scratched off, but they come back pretty quick and I have to wash my hands, wipe the mouse buttons, scratch the little "mouse poo" as I call it, and then I'm ok for maybe a little while.

This problem has annoyed me a lot more since I bought a logitech MX510, which has a glossy surface. This thing has no texture, so I feel the dirt a lot more!

So, the question might be as follows:
a) is there a way to prevent this?
b) are there furry mice (computer mice huh, not living ones), kind of like the furbook? :)
c) am I just crazy or this does annoy some people out there? I always feel like "my hands are dirty" because of this.
d) are there computer mice out there that are more resistant (like, they will never loose their texture) to this effect? If so, could anyone advise me of their experiences?
e) should I wear gloves or consult a psychiatrist? :)

What I need a mouse to do is simply to have silent, easily clickable buttons, a silent mousewheel (requires no effort), and one additional button, because I am a Linux user who uses XGL and Compiz. What that means is that I can't live without my dear "scale" plugin (that does the same thing as the Exposé feature of Mac OS X) being mapped to a button of the mouse.
posted by a007r to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Best answer: Any keyboard I've ever owned has a shiny bit on the space bar: off-centre (towards the right) because of the way I type. Irritating, and you do wonder quite why this can't be prevented.

I've discovered a page telling you how to restore the dullness (which may help), and another page in which some users discuss this phenomenon: in particular, it includes adding stickers onto your keyboard (which may be a sensible thing to look at over your mouse).

I don't use mice at home, but do at work: and my mouse is filthy. Perhaps a trick might be to keep some of those wet wipes in your desk drawer, and give the mouse a good wash at the beginning of the day: the lemony smell might also trick you into believing that it's much cleaner, too.
posted by jamescridland at 9:52 AM on April 30, 2006

Fact of life: plastic wears down, even from just skin contact if given enough time. Give it a quick buff with medium or coarse grit sandpaper if it really bothers you that much.
posted by randomstriker at 12:02 PM on April 30, 2006

Yep. Anyone who looks at my laptop keyboard can see that I'm right-handed (spacebar) and which keys I hit the most often just from the wear pattern. Fact of life.

You could try coating your mouse with something that will give it a rough or tacky surface - some kind of spray-on texture paint meant for plastic? Would be easiest to disassemble it first to make sure you don't spray over anything important.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:40 PM on April 30, 2006

If your mouse and keyboard are dirty, wipe them clean. It's actually easier to clean the polished patches than the remaining-rough places.

If your hands are dirty enough to filthy up your mouse more often than you're willing to clean it, get in the habit of washing your hands before using the computer.

Mouse and keyboard gunk pales into insignificance next to telephone gunk, by the way.
posted by flabdablet at 7:11 PM on April 30, 2006

The "dirt bumps" are at least partially shed skin & sweat. Washing your hands may reduce the problem somewhat, but it won't stop you from shedding skin cells.
posted by raedyn at 8:06 AM on May 1, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks a lot for your insightful replies :) actually, currently I tried scotching some kind of rubber material I had nearby (synthetic thing that prevents objects from sliding on tables). I'll experiment if that can be a bearable solution, otherwise I'll just get into obsessive handwashing or buy "spray-on texture".
posted by a007r at 4:22 PM on May 1, 2006

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