Things You Can Use As A Makeshift Mousepad

No mousepad? No problem!

There are so many items that can be used as a makeshift mousepad. Chances are, you probably have these items around your house!

Today’s computer mice work better than older mice because they are “optical”. That means they use a light and a light sensor to accurately track movement. It’s pretty impressive, learn more about optical mice here

MX Master 3 Mouse

For us casual folk, this means these mice will work on a huge variety of surfaces. As long as they have visual references, they can track movement. That actually led me to write an article on if mousepads are even necessary anymore.

Needing a good mousepad is no longer as necessary as it once was. We don’t have a physical ball rolling around anymore. On those mice, dirt and rough surfaces can mess up the tracking. 

With today’s computer mice in mind, let’s talk about common household items you can use successfully as a mousepad.

Key Takeaways

  • Besides glass and mirrored surfaces, almost any surface can be used with today’s computer mice.
  • Simply find household objects that are flat and relatively smooth, fabrics count as well!
  • Find specific examples of makeshift mousepads below!

General Requirements

First, let’s talk about some general guidelines. Using these guidelines, you can probably find even more household items to use as a makeshift mousepad. 

Hide Keyboard Mouse Wires (1)

Choose Flat Objects or Surfaces

Having a flat surface for your mouse will give you the best user experience. If you need a mousepad when sitting on a couch or a bed, a solid surface will work much more smoothly. I constantly work on the couch with my MX Master 3 mouse. 

Flexible surfaces could result in a gap between your mouse sensor and your improvised mousepad. When there is a gap, your mouse stops tracking as well. Sometimes it simply doesn’t register movement if your gap is too large. 

Do yourself a favor and try to use something flat, or place your mousepad on a flat surface. Ensuring no gaps under your mouse will help give you accurate tracking. Accurate tracking lets you keep working efficiently! 

Don’t Use Reflective or Clear Surfaces

Today’s optical mice suffer when placed on clear or reflective surfaces. When the light can bounce around everywhere in close proximity, the sensor struggles to accurately determine your movement. 

Anything with a strong reflection should not be used here. Clear surfaces don’t give the mouse any decent reference points either. The more of a matte finish, the better!

With that being said, let’s get into what things you can use as a mousepad! I’ve used a ton of these methods myself when I was in a pinch.

Simple Things You Can Use As a Makeshift Mousepad

1) Textbooks

makeshift mousepad on textbook

First up, textbooks. If you have any old textbooks from college, high school, or any school for that matter, these will help! 

Textbooks are usually large and heavy with hardcovers. Because they are large, we have a nice roomy mouse movement area. Them being heavy allows the textbook to pretty much stay wherever you place it.

No need to worry about dragging it around as you move your mouse. 

Lastly, hardcovers ensure that your reference surface is nice and flat. As a result, the tracking will stay accurate! 

2) Paper Folders

Paper folders are another great solution for use as a mousepad. Keep in mind that paper folders are relatively flexible. This option is best used on top of an already flat surface for the best experience. 

Folders are usually a solid color and have great surface friction for using a mouse. Paper naturally has a matte finish, unless it is specifically a glossy paper folder. 

The matte finish and paper texture gives the optical mouse great references for movement tracking. The surface friction here also gives you very predictable mouse movement. 

This is perfect if you have a reflective table, or a hard surface nearby that does not work well with a mouse. 

3) Spare Wood Planks

A wood desk or any clean and flat wood plank will make a great optical mouse surface. This goes back to our basic requirements. We are selecting a solid and flat surface that keeps our mouse nice and close to the surface at all times. 

If you have a wood desk, you probably noticed that your mouse does absolutely fine without a mousepad on this surface. 

weight capacity of desks

Remember that your wood surface should be pretty smooth. A plank of wood with rough ridges and splinters will not be a pleasant experience. 

4) Shoe Boxes

Shoe boxes have pretty decent rigidity, making them a nice flat surface. They are typically made from matte-finished cardboard, so the same benefits of the paper folder apply here as well. 

What is special about the shoe box is its elevation. Shoe boxes are usually a few inches tall. 

If you need an elevated mouse pad replacement instead of just a simple mousepad, an old shoe box can be the perfect solution. 

For example, when I’m sitting on the couch, and use a mouse at the cushion level, I get wrist pain very quickly because my hand is too low. There is nothing ergonomic about using a mouse at your seat height. It’s not good for you. 

If you have a shoebox while on the couch, you elevate your mouse. That puts you in a much more comfortable position to actually use your mouse. Your wrist will thank you!

Because shoe boxes are large, they have enough room to rest your palm as well. Further increasing your comfort!

Hokafenle Mouse Pad, Computer Mouse Pad with Modern Art Design, Mouse Mat Square Waterproof Mousepad Non-Slip Rubber Base MousePads for Home Office Laptop Desk, Abstract Mountain

5) Stiff Cardboard

Don’t have a shoebox? If you have any stiff cardboard boxes lying around, these could prove useful as makeshift mousepads as well. 

This doesn’t mean you have to use the box itself. If one panel of your box is stiff and smooth, cut it out! 

A stiff panel of cardboard without any folds and ridges will result in a smooth mouse operation experience.

6) Normal Books 

If you don’t have a textbook around, you’re not alone. I try to keep my old textbooks far away from me. Those subjects haunt me! 

Any large hardcover book will share the same advantages as a textbook. Remember, the advantages were its weight, large size, and hardcover surface. Try to find books around your house that have these features. 

You don’t need the heavy feature as much as you need the size and hardcover features. A large book gives you a more roomy mousepad. Hardcovers keep your mouse flat, and the tracking accurate. 

7) Magazines

Magazines are basically thin textbooks without hardcovers. We lose rigidity and weight compared to textbooks. 

That means magazines are more appropriate if you already have a flat surface. When I use a magazine as a mousepad with my laptop, I usually make my laptop sit on one side of the magazine so it stays in place. 

Without holding it in place, it moves around because of how lightweight it is.

Try to use a magazine with a matte finish. A glossy finish not only reflects a bit too much, but it can become ‘sticky’ with your mouse bottom. That leads to a jittery movement that is undesirable. 

8) Desk Mat

Don’t have a mousepad, no problem. But what about a desk mat? Desk mats are pretty much huge mousepads.

Desk mats are made from a ton of different materials, such as leather or wool. They also function as great mousepads. Before buying a wool desk mat, check out our article on the negatives of wool desk mats.

Desk Mat MX Keys MX Master 3

Desk mats or desk pads are made to be placed on a desk, as the name suggests. So we don’t have to worry about the flatness. Our desk will transfer that quality to our desk mat. 

They are a very attractive desk accessory. If you already have one, check out our article on how to clean desk mats so they look brand new!

9) Fabric 

Most mousepads are made from a cloth material. So guess what you can do if you have a spare piece of cloth around? Yup, you can use it as a mousepad. 

The only difference between a random cloth and a mousepad is the clean look, thick surface, and grippy base. 

If you have a cloth that is heavy enough to stay in place on your desk, it will actually get the job done just like a normal mousepad. Only you didn’t have to buy one! 

10) Paper

If you are working on a glass or reflective surface, you might need something very simple to get your mouse working well. 

The absolute bare minimum solution that will actually work on top of your surface, is a simple sheet of paper. 

You can have your laptop sit on the edge of the paper to help hold it in place. You can use a paperweight or even double-sided tape too. 

11) Notebooks

The last item on this list is a plain old notebook! This is a simple one to recommend.

It has the benefit of having some weight to it so it stays in place. Also, many notebook covers are paper surfaces which again, are great for mouse pad tracking.

Make Your Own Mousepad At Home

If you have a little more time on your hands, why not try and make your own mousepad!? Everyone loves a good DIY project.

Here are some great videos that guide you on how to make your very own mousepad!

Nice Mousepads Are Pretty Affordable

If you find that you would rather just purchase a mousepad, check out these budget-friendly mousepads on Amazon!

Logitech Mouse Pad - Studio Series

This Studio Series mouse pad has a smooth, comfortable cloth surface and a spill-repellent coating. Its anti-fray edges and anti-slip rubber base provide durability and stability. Made from recycled polyester and natural rubber.

Check Price on Amazon

Computer Mouse Pads with Tropical Leaves Design, Square Waterproof Non-Slip Rubber Base Mouse Mat for Office Laptop

Leather Mousepad with Non-Slip Rubber Base

This mouse pad has a no-slip rubber backing and a water-resistant surface that's easy to clean and maintain. It measures 9.5"x7.9" and has a super smooth leather surface that offers aesthetics and smooth mouse movement.

Check Price on Amazon
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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!