Here’s Why You Should Never Purchase a Wool or Felt Desk Mat

I love the look and feel of wool felt desk mats. I also love the comfort it provides over the more traditional desk mats. 

Judging by the review count of felt desk mats online, I’m not alone. Boutique brands like Grovemade also have wool desk mats that sell very well judging by how many people I see using them.

Seeing beautiful desk setups using wool desk mats actually convinced me to go out and buy my own. 

wool Desk Mat with MX Keys Keyboard and MX Master 3 mouse
My first and last wool/felt desk mat.

I never heard any bad reviews from people using them, but I guess I didn’t look that hard. Unfortunately, I had to learn of the downsides on my own. 

This is my experience after using a felt desk pad for over a year. If you’re not using a desk mat or desk pad at all, here’s why you should be using one.

My Experience with a Wool Desk Pad For a Year

I already touched on the good stuff about wool desk mats: they look great and are comfy on the wrists. Now here is the stuff that caught me off guard.

I narrowed the downsides to the two major issues that bothered me the most. 

Mouse Issues

Wool desk mats are comfy on the wrist but are less friendly with your mouse.

Right when I got my desk mat, I flattened it, placed my MX Keys and MX Master 3 mouse right on top, and got to work.

The keyboard worked fine as you would expect, there’s no reason it wouldn’t. However, my mouse kept getting caught on the wool mat, which was surprising.

After taking a closer look, the front mouse glider was getting caught on the loose fibers of the wool desk mat. The pad fibers didn’t have to be very loose for this to happen. The mouse gliders are right at the surface of the mouse. 

Every time my mouse got trapped on the felt mat, it loosened those mat fibers more which made the issue worse. It also slightly peeled my mouse glider off of my mouse with each snag on the wool fibers.

It was slowly making the issue worse and worse as I used the pad more. 

I really liked the look of the desk mat, so I covered up the mouse glider. I slapped some packing tape over the glider (I know, classy).

My MX Master 3 is not as beautiful as it once was, but I no longer get my mouse trapped on those annoying loose fibers. This was issue #1

Working Area of Wool Mats Degrades With Use

After a few months of use, the quality of the desk mat significantly degraded in the areas that saw the most movement. This included the mouse sliding area and the wrist placement area.

I always work at my desk using a full-size keyboard and mouse. That means that I actively use a large area of the desk pad. 

My wrists are constantly agitating and translating across the surface. We drag our wrists around way more than we think when working at a computer.

After about two months, I noticed significant fabric pilling wherever my wrists made contact with the desk mat.

If you haven’t heard the term before, ‘fabric pills’ are the little linty fuzz balls that form on your favorite shirts and sweaters. They are commonly found in high-wear locations, such as the elbows, armpits, etc. 

High wear on certain fabrics creates these little fuzz balls or ‘pills’. Nobody likes these little lint balls. They make your clothes look old and worn, and they do the same to a felt and wool desk pad. 

The little fuzz balls create a more coarse and gritty experience compared to a brand-new felt surface.

My wrists notice the drop in quality of the felt once the pilling gets bad. It’s just not as smooth and satisfying when you move your hands around your peripherals. 

I rotated my pad 180 degrees to get a fresh section of felt that was originally on the backside. After a few more months I had to flip it to use the underside to find another fresh wrist pad area. 

If the bottom of your desk mat has a grippy surface, you only have two orientations to use the pad.

Mat Edge Degradation

I also noticed that the clean-cut edges of the desk mat were slowly getting fatigued, flattened, and ugly. The desk mat edges start looking worse and worse

I’m sure in the future the mat will slowly move towards just looking like a blob of felt with no clean-cut edges.

I’ve since moved over to 5mm thick polyester desk mats instead these days. They give me a very smooth surface to work on, and my mouse slides perfectly and accurately.

Lifespan Of Typical Desk Mats

Normal off-the-shelf mouse pads typically last a long time. They have tightly stitched edges, unlike felt or wool. They last much longer.

If you have a really old mousepad or desk mat lying around, it’s probably just dirty and will look just fine after you give it a solid clean

I’ve noticed that’s definitely not the case with these wool/felt desk mats. The pilling can be removed, but it will just show up again as you keep using your desk mat. 

These issues will not occur with standard desk mat materials. Typical fabrics will chug along and do their job just fine.

The Disadvantages Of Wool & Felt Desk Mats

Fuzz Balls – Fabric Pilling 

Doesn’t matter how much you pay, wool and felt will behave like wool and felt. They naturally have loose fibers, and those will bunch up into little lint balls as they experience surface friction. 

Check out Grovemade’s article on why they chose ‘superior’ virgin merino wool. They claim it’s more dense. However, they use a big picture of a Merino wool mat that has a ton of loose fibers. 

That article has convinced me that you will run into the same issues no matter how much you pay. Their extra large felt desk pad goes for $160!

I would hate to pay that much just for the wrist area to turn into fuzz balls after a few months. I’m convinced if you want to use a wool desk mat, might as well get on a subscription plan. They degrade quickly and you will constantly need a new one if you spend a lot of time at your workspace.

A wrist pad may solve this issue, but it kind of defeats the purpose of using a soft felt desk pad.

Loose Fibers Trap Things

The loose fibers are really the main issue here. If you have anything protruding and close to the surface of your mat, it will get caught. 

I don’t like that I had to tape up my MX Master 3 mouse when it worked flawlessly on a normal $5 mousepad. 

Just keep in mind that you are basically buying a piece of cloth that will see some serious wrist action. I don’t recommend spending a ton of money on these loose fiber-type mats. They will degrade! 

Felt vs Leather Desk Pads

If you like aesthetic desk mats, you might also be considering a leather desk mat. Leather mats will be superior to wool and felt desk mats in terms of performance and longevity. Wool mats might be more comfortable, but they will not last nearly as long.

Leather desk mats do not have any loose fibers. This means you can use them for much longer than a wool desk mat and you will not see the loose fiber issues, such as pilling, snagging, and edge degradation.

I recently tried out the leather HEXCAL Desk Mat Bundle, and the experience was much better than my wool desk mat experience. My mouse has a perfectly fine slide to it due to the lack of any loose fibers.

The only advantage wool has over leather desk mats is that wool is nice and soft on the wrists. Leather doesn’t give the same warm and soft feeling as wool.

However, that benefit of wool desk mats is canceled right away when you consider how fast they degrade.

Before You Go

If you have a normal desk pad that is looking pretty old, check out our step-by-step guide to cleaning desk pads. You won’t be disappointed with the results.

Also, if you’re not yet convinced about spending money on a desk mat, check out our article on how desk mats compare to mousepads.

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I'm a big time workspace enthusiast who is constantly experimenting with my setup. Sharing along the way to help people make their own desk setups more functional and inviting, whether it be for productivity or play!

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