A few methods to use to flatten a desk mat include:
- Going over it with a hot iron
- Rolling it in the opposite direction
- Using a hairdryer to work on bumps or creases
- Laying objects on top to apply counterpressure
These methods work for most desk mats, but you should take special care with certain designs and features like RGB lighting.
Keep reading as we look into these methods and explain how to perform them while keeping your desk mat safe.
Why a Desk Mat is Not Flat
The most common time a desk mat may be curved and require you to flatten it is when you pull it out of the box.
Despite its thin and pliable nature, it’s easier and safer for the manufacturer to ship it by rolling it up and putting it in a long, narrow box.
Even desk mats that are shipped flat can run into issues as the box is more prone to damage during its travel.
These processes lead to curling and crimping, regardless of how thick or thin the desk mat is. Sometimes, the desk mat will flatten on its own. Often, you need to manually address the issue.
This can also happen over time as your desk mat gets rubbed upon and moved around at your desk. Even without abnormal wear, this can cause the edges to roll up or tiny folds that impede the normal function of your mouse.
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Regardless of how your desk mat got this way, there are plenty of proven methods to flatten it.
Cleaning Your Desk Mat to Help Flatten It:
It is especially important to clean a used desk mat before trying to flatten it. This gets rid of built-up sweat, oils, and debris that might cause the desk mat to hold its hold.
It also prevents the flattening process from turning these issues into stains, as most of the methods use heat that will set the mess.
This can also help you with a new desk mat. It might get rid of some of the smell of processing and make the mat more likely to flatten.
You should avoid hot water and submerging your desk mat in water. Do a spot test in an inconspicuous corner before using any cleaning solution over the entirety of your desk mat.
Instead, mix some gentle soap (such as dish soap or baby wash) with warm water, then use a soft bristle brush or clean cloth to spot clean the desk mat.
For trickier dirt or stains, consider using a more powerful cleaner like oxygen bleach (OxiClean).
Rinse the desk mat thoroughly, then lay it flat on a towel. Roll the towel and the desk mat together, using gentle pressure to expunge all the water, then allow the desk mat to dry underneath a fan.
How to Flatten a Desk Mat Using a Hot Iron
The most effective method to flatten a desk mat is using a hot iron. You don’t need anything fancy like steam or heavyweight, but make sure the iron functions properly.
Place a piece of cloth between the iron and the desk mat. This does not need to be thick, but it should be sufficient to protect the surface of your desk mat.
You can test this by laying the cloth and applying the tip of the iron to the corner.
If you’re worried about it getting too hot, you can start with the lowest setting. Most desk mats can withstand medium heat from an iron under an appropriate cloth.
Start at the corner, allowing the weight of the iron to press down on your desk mat. Slowly move across the iron, taking care not to apply too much pressure.
Repeat this process two to three times, then allow the desk mat to cool so you can evaluate the results.
Make sure you do not apply the heat directly to your desk mat on accident; this can cause the material to warp.
While you can use the steam function, it usually works better to get the cloth slightly damp instead of spraying the desk mat directly.
How to Flatten a Desk Mat by Rolling It
If you don’t have a hot iron or are not comfortable using heat, you can try to roll the desk mat in the opposite direction of its curling.
This works best with new desk mats just out of the box, especially if you have the original box they came in.
Determine the direction that the desk mat is curling up, then roll the mat to exert opposite pressure. Put the desk mat back into its box, or find a box of appropriate size that will keep the mat from unrolling.
If you don’t have a box that will work, you can use a rubber band or tie the desk mat to keep it rolled this way.
Take care not to let the band cut into the mat too much, or you can end up with creases. Thicker bands or ties help with this.
Let this sit for two or three days, then evaluate the results.
How to Flatten a Desk Mat with a Hair Dryer
A hairdryer can be useful for:
- Treating tricky spots or creases
- Providing greater control over the flattening process
- Offering ease of mind when working with heat
Similar to a hot iron, use a cloth to protect your desk mat from the hairdryer. You can use a thinner, damp cloth to get the most out of this process.
Set the iron on high heat, then start in the corner and move inwards, pressing the mat flat as you go. You can dedicate extra time to bumps or creases in the desk mat.
Repeat 2 to 3 times and allow the meat to cool. You can spot and treat any areas that continue to elevate after this.
Using Pressure to Flatten a Desk Mat
This process takes more time, but it can safely flatten your desk mat with little risk.
Lay your desk mat down how you want it. Set a flat, heavy object (such as a book) to one corner of the desk mat.
Pull the desk mat so it stretches a bit, then lay down another flat, heavy object. Continue to do this until the surface is covered.
If you do not have uniformly shaped heavy objects, you can lay down something flat to cover the desk mat and then set something heavy on top.
You just want to avoid putting pressure on an acute position and ending up with an imprint.
You need to leave the desk mat like this for at least 2 or 3 days before checking on it, but a few extra days should not hurt it.
To assist in this process, consider warming the mat up with the hairdryer or hot iron method before trying this.
You can also try laying the mat in a warm area, such as by a window that receives direct sunlight.
Taping Down a Desk Mat to Flatten It
With some thinner desk mats, you can try securing them to your desk with double-sided tape to flatten them.
This allows you to use the desk mat while you work to level it.
Use the tape as close to the edge as possible. This prevents the edges from curling up even more.
Make sure you pull the matt taut to flatten it completely before taping it down. Securing the mat beforehand can lead to a larger issue.
This method does not work as well with heavier desk mats or desk mats with thick binding on the edges.
Taking Special Care with RGB Desk Mats
If you have a desk mat with integrated RGB or static lighting, you need to take care not to use high heat or heavy pressure.
Most of these desk mats use thick tubing to protect the lights, and heat and pressure will cause unnecessary warping or breakage.
If using a hot iron, look for a heavier cloth to protect your desk mat. The ideal thickness is around 500 GSM, so look for heavy fleeces or terry cloth.
Use the same process as a normal desk mat, but pay close attention to areas that feature the lights.
Does Your Desk Mat Need to Be Completely Flat?
Your desk mat does not need to be completely flat to use it, but the center of the desk mat should be as flat as possible.
It’s more important than the desk mat is clean and free of issues, such as:
Curling on the edges is the most common issue with an uneven desk mat surface, but minor curling should not be enough to impede function.
If you are working with a new desk mat, try it out before going into a frenzy to flatten it.
You may find that the issue resolves itself over a few days, or that it’s not much of an issue when you put it to use.