What Can I Use Instead of a Mouse Pad?

Whether you use a mouse for work, gaming, or some other purpose, you may wonder if you should use a mouse pad.

A lot of people don’t use them, but there are some reasons that it can be good.

In addition, there are some easy ways to make a mouse pad out of household objects and you may find some of them work better than an actual mouse pad that costs extra money. 

What Can I use Instead Of A mouse pad

Before looking at mouse pad options, it is important to know about the different types of mouses (mice?) for your computer because knowing the type can help you choose a mouse pad or alternative that will work well for smooth operation. 

What are the Different Types of Mouses?

Different types of computer mouses will do better with different types of mousepads whether you buy one or use something else instead.

Let’s check out the main types of computer mouses to keep in mind. 

1. Mechanical Mouse:

This is the type of mouse that uses a ball and it was the original mouse type that everybody used in the 90s and 2000s.

While they are less popular than they used to be, they can still be a solid choice because they are easy-to-use, cheap, and have a movement sensitivity that is great for matching hand movement.

This is because the input to the computer is collected with kinesthetic energy and motion. 

This type of mouse does not work on surfaces that are too slick because the ball needs to be able to grip the surface.

A mouse pad or some other alternative is probably necessary for this mouse not to lag and to provide good movement and flow.

It is unlikely to be accurate if you use your desktop surface and many of the things that you can use as a mouse pad will also be subpar when using a mechanical mouse. 

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2. Optical and Laser Mouse:

Most newer computer mouses use light to transmit movement and distance.

An optical mouse will use infrared LED while a laser mouse will use a concentrated and direct beam of light.

With either type, the light bounces off the surface and sends signals for movement and cursor placement. 

These mouse types will work best with solid surfaces, but may not do well with reflective surfaces like glass.

This is because the light needs to be properly directed so that it does not send an incorrect signal to the computer.

This is more true with optical mouses, but laser mouses should work on almost any surface type and material. 

3. Trackball Mouse:

This type has a ball on top that you move using your hand.

When the ball moves, it communicates the movement to a sensor inside the mouse which translates the movement of the ball into cursor movement.

Since the movement for this type of mouse is in the upper part of the mouse instead of against the surface, this type does not require a mouse pad. 

4. Ergonomic Mouse:

This type is different because it can utilize any of the technological types of mouses, but it is also more comfortable for hand positioning as well as the wrist in some cases.

They are shaped to provide enough support without compromising range of motion and will allow the hand to relax in a natural position for a longer period.

This is a great choice for those who spend most of their day using a mouse. 

What is the Purpose of a Mouse Pad?

There are a few good reasons to use a mouse pad, or at least use something that acts like a mouse pad. First, the performance of your mouse, especially if it is mechanical or optical, depends on the surface of the desk or mouse pad. 

A mouse pad is typically made out of materials designed for use with any mouse type for grip, anti-reflection, and other features and many of them are also stylish and match an aesthetic.

A mouse pad can even save battery life on a wireless mouse in a lot of cases. This is because the mouse does not have to work as hard to transmit the correct signal for the cursor on your monitor.

Another reason to use a mouse pad or at least use something to use as a mouse pad is comfort. They can slightly raise the wrist and give a softer surface for you to rest your palm or wrist on.

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Plus the mouse will be easier to grip without sliding and the same goes for a keyboard if you are using a large mouse pad or alternative object. 

Finally, utilizing a mouse pad means protecting the surface of your desk. While a mouse is unlikely to scratch a desk, it is a possibility.

Not only that, but some cheaper desks can have the coloring or outside components wear thinner after daily use of a mouse. 

What Can I use Instead Of A mouse pad

What Can You Use Instead of a Mouse Pad?

So you know the benefits of using a mouse pad, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy one. You can use a lot of other objects as a functional mouse pad and some of them work well. You can even make your mouse pad if you don’t mind buying some materials. Let’s look at some of the alternatives to a mouse pad and the benefits and downsides of each one. 

1. Magazine:

If you have some magazines lying around, they can make a functional and attractive mouse pad because they can show pictures of your interests, match a color scheme, and be changed easily.

However, they do need to be secured using tape to the desk, otherwise, they will slip around and not work very well. Some are highly reflective that may not work with optical mouses. 

2. Cardboard:

Cardboard has a texture that makes it a good choice for any type of mouse.

It may not be the most attractive option, but it doesn’t wear out quickly and is affordable and adaptable.

Again, you will have to tape it to the desk to avoid slippage. 

3. Placemats:

If you have placemats at your house, then you can use them as a great mousepad. They usually have a stylish design, textured surface, and resilient composition.

They also have anti-slip bottoms that can be great and they are typically cheaper than a mouse pad if you are looking to spend a small amount of money. 

4. Clothes:

Clothes can provide a soft surface that also works well with a mouse, but you do have to make sure that they are secured to the desk without wrinkles.

Jeans tend to have a good texture for a very effective mouse movement.

If you have old clothes with a logo you like, then you can cut that part out to use as a mouse pad displaying one of your interests. 

5. Duct Tape:

Duct tape is cheap, effective, and easily replaceable. It does wear out, but it can stick directly to the desk and act as a great mouse pad.

They come in different sizes and colors as well, but it is important to keep in mind that they may be too slick for mechanical mouses.

They can also get dirty because they are somewhat sticky, even on the non-sticky side. 

6. Book:

This is the easiest option to reach for without much thought and it can work well. If the book is too thick then it could put your wrist at an uncomfortable or awkward angle though.

Also, if it is a nice book that you care for, remember that the movement can be bad for the book over time. 

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What to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Mouse Pad Alternative

Keeping the type of surface in mind when choosing something to use a mouse pad can be the difference between an effective mouse pad and one that doesn’t accurately track the cursor.

The first is reflectivity if you are using an optical mouse. Shiny or clear surfaces can cause a slow lagging response or even no response at all. This is the case for many plastics as well as glass.  

Also, keep in mind that the mouse pad should not move at all because if it does the motion can interfere with the correct transmission of movement.

This can make it move awkwardly or incorrectly. This is also true of things that are uneven or that have abnormalities. Always avoid bumpy surfaces as well because that can interfere with a comfortable motion. 

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How to Make a Mouse Pad for Wrist Support

It is fairly easy to make your comfort and wrist support mouse pad and most of the materials for it can be alternated to things you already have at home. It will, however, take sewing thread so that you can close the wrist component up. 

1. First, choose a material:

Make sure that it works with your preferred type of mouse and that it is comfortable on your wrist. 

Cut out a square large enough to use the mouse properly. For gaming, this could be quite large to accommodate large jumps or reactions.

2. Sewing:

Then, sew this piece of the material around a thick piece of cardboard (you can even use a hardcover from an old book, a piece of plastic, or any other component. 

3. Sticking:

Next, get a double-sided tape or furniture foot to place on the underside to prevent movement on the desktop surface. That is the actual mouse pad, but you need to add the wrist supportive component. 

4. Wrist Support:

You can use a separate piece of the same material or a different material for the wrist support. 

Make sure it is wide enough to fit your wrist with extra space on each side after folding over because it will have to be stuffed. Leave an extra inch on each end for sewing together as well.

5. Stuffing:

Lay the material down flat and sew up the ends so that the stuffing can’t fall out. Then use popcorn kernels, dry rice, or bean bag pellets to fill up the inside and sew the two long edges together. 

In the end, you will probably have to add more of the stuffing so that it is tight and supportive because if it is flat it will not work well (use a funnel to avoid a mess!). 

Now you can place this at the wrists or palm of your hand while using the mouse on your homemade mouse pad for comfort and functionality.

Plus, it adds a personal flair to your desk area and is a great choice for crafty people who like making good use of old clothes or other materials.

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When to buy a real mousepad?

While you can use a lot of household objects as a mouse pad or even make your own, there are some times when it may be best to buy your own.

The main reason for this is if you cannot find a material that works well with the mouse you have. Some computer mouses are more sensitive or lag more easily than others. 

Another reason is to get a mouse pad with the design you prefer on it.

They can also come with wrist support that can be helpful if you are not a crafty or DIY type of person. This allows you to choose the best mouse pad for you. 

Finally, if you have a larger surface area where you need a mouse, then you should buy one that will cover more area. This may be difficult to do on your own and there may be fewer alternatives that can work for that type of situation. 


If you are desperate for a mouse pad, then you can find materials in your own house to use temporarily and many of them can work permanently as well.

A hardcover book, clothing, duct tape, and placemats are all effective options depending on your mouse.

You can also make your mousepad and wrist support out of easy-to-find materials. If all else fails, there are affordable mouse pad options as well. 

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Darryl Higgins

Darryl Higgins

Hi, I'm Darryl. I made this site to help share information & reviews about ergonomic desks, chairs & accessories to help others who want to work more comfortably. Learn more about my journey by reading my bio here. Enjoy!
Darryl Higgins

Darryl Higgins

Hi, I'm Darryl. I made this site to help share information & reviews about ergonomic desks, chairs & accessories to help others who want to work more comfortably. Learn more about my journey by reading my bio here. Enjoy!

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