Blog

The best trackball lubricant

MS Trackball ExplorerTip: Trackball mouse getting a bit sticky? Rub your nose or forehead with the finger or thumb you use to control it and presto! That trackball will be rolling like new.

I have a MS Trackball Explorer that is controlled with the index finger. Sometimes it gets sticky, I think due to hand perspiration or dryness. In any case, after thinking about where I could find some lubricant that would get that ball rolling smoothly again but having no actual oil around, I realized faces are full of it. Sure enough, it worked! So, if you have a stickyness problem with your trackball, try this and it will blow your mind.

  • Alan

    NASTY.

    Anyone who decides to sell theirs on eBay afterwards, please post a warning so that my pristine fingers need not stroke your head- or nose-grease. :{

  • It’s not that nasty, it worked for me a bit!

  • Wow, this works pretty well. I don’t see how this is ‘nasty’ as using your trackball with your fingers will get the same kind of oils on it, only in lesser amounts… Thanks for the tip.

  • Jaymze

    I’m using an Explorer Trackball too…once its rolling its fine, pretty much, but it sticks getting it in motion – I tried WD-40, helps a little but doesn’t roll off perfectly effortlessly at first touch…any idea what would be the best trackball to use for doing graphics work?

  • Darryl Gittins

    Another option is to clean the ball using hand soap, dry it off, and then rub it into your hair. The oil from your hair is an ideal lube. While you have the ball out, clean the seating for it. Just wipe the gunk off the tiny rollers that the ball sits on.

    A more lasting solution is to use something like Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm. Rub a very thin film on the ball and it will glide so smoothly, you won’t believe it! You may have to repeat the procedure a few times, depending on how much you use the thing.

  • Chef Boyardee

    I have the same problem. It starts to drag or otherwise feel sluggish. The friction is audible.

    Start by unplugging the trackball from your USB port. Take a soft cloth and very warm water (about 160 is ideal but don’t burn yourself) and go to town cleaning the ball, the inside track, and the exterior if necessary. No soap! Just hot water.

    Clean off any dirt or fluff which may have accumulated around the 3 silver support pins. The pointy tip of a push-pin works nicely.

    As for lubrication, olive oil works great. Dribble a very light amount onto a paper towel, then wipe around the 3 silver support pins. Don’t lube the ball, just the pins.

    I thought about WD40 but stopped at the last second… olive oil is edible, so if you accidentally ingest it, no worries.

  • DaddyB

    I found this thread because my ms explorer trackball was sticking so bad that I could barely use it. I eschewed the icky face oil fix and tried instead a few strokes from my chapstick, and voila! It’s as free as a bird now! In fact, it hasn’t rolled so freely in years (going on eight since I got it.)

  • Sliverchair

    The roundup: As the hardware Tech at a large CAD center, I have tried all of the following with NO success. Olive oil, 3-1n-1 oil, WD40, spit (no comments here, was done in the name of science), KY (again, for science), Astro Lube (science?), silicone grease, veggie oil and face oil.

    What works? Blistex (provides some grab to the fingers as well when it is dry out), Burts Bees, Chapstick and Sortwick (stuff you put on your fingers to count money).

    The wrap-up:

    The three points the ball rests on are PTE and chemical resistant, you can try about anything you would like on them. The ball is machine polished acrylic and can resist almost anything as well. DO NOT use solvents of any kind, they will melt the plastic casing around the ball and pads. Why is my trackball slowing and making noise when I roll it? Micro-fine scratches on the ball surface and flat spots on the glide pads. There is no going back to new, treat the ball and pads until you cant stand it any more and then get a new one!

    SC

  • Michael Bradford

    This isn’t as “nasty” as y’all think. If you look at the page for Logitech’s Edge trackball, you’ll see that they coat the ball with lanolin from the factory to serve as a lubricant. Lanolin, as we all know, is a waxy secretion squeezed from sheeps’ wool. Yeah, chew on that!

  • Jaymze

    It would be great if someone could make replacement balls. I don’t know anything about acrylic, and then there is the pattern on the surface… Its been 3 days short of 2 years since my last post…I’ve been using Burt’s Beeswax since it was first suggested on this post…carry a little tube with me everywhere (I have MSTB Explorers at work and home) and that has been getting me through quite well. Does not overcome the static-to-kinetic friction problem, but in those instances where that level of control is critical perhaps a trackball is not the appropriate tool. I’m going to give olive oil a try…not as portable Beeswax but a small vial could be stored at each location.

  • Darryl Gittins

    Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm in the little round tin is the ticket. I tried Olive oil and it didn’t work.

  • beejaydee

    After you’ve cleaned the three metal pins of any residue, just spray a little Pledge on a cloth and wipe down the cavity of the unit, as well as the trackball itself. I was amazed at how the ball glides around after this treatment.

  • Jacob

    WOW
    had a stick of burts bees lipbalm around, CANT FIND IT!?!

    AND THEN i remembered i had a stick of toystory lipchap(heh) and tried that,

    freakin miracle cure Darryl Gittins!!
    thanks muchly

    all seriouslyness; you easily cut my overall computer frustration by 50% across the board

  • Jaymze

    Dear Jacob,
    Had you tried Burt’s Beeswax and if so is the toystory lipchap a better solution ?
    Still hoping someone someday will be able to build replacement balls for the MS Trackball Explorer. I work in the school of engineering in a LARGE university – maybe I can get a senior to take it on as a senior project or something….Ha !!!
    Thanks – Jaymze

  • Jacob

    naa i haven’t tried the burts, couldn’t find it,
    it will probably work better, better quality materials

    and i don’t think it’s the ball that needs replacing,
    this is the second trackball explorer i’ve had(dropped the first one after about a year, maybe two)
    i think it’s the tiny metal supports that becomes worn down,
    getting right in there close i can see that they’re flat across the top now, and they dont spin, completely fixed, seems like a design flaw, should be mobile?
    last one was the same, but i forgo the extremely fine control and slow detail in favor of the far superior speed and ergonomics these give me,
    but now the only time it rides up or stutters or sticks (in the few hours since i found this article) is when i’m pressing too hard

  • Darryl Gittins

    The Beeswax in the little round tin works best. The stuff in the Burt’s Beeswax tube (lip balm) is different, and while it works, it’s not as good. Interestingly, I haven’t done another application for about 6 months. It’s like the beeswax has left a permanent residue.

    It’s just the ticket!!

  • Jaymze

    Darryl – thanks for the heads-up on the round tin/tube difference – I’ve been using the tube for some time now and it does work well. Now I’m excited to try the tin – they sell both at the bookstore of the university at which I work.

  • great tip, worked awesome, im gonna have to stop washing my face so i can collect trackball grease and sell it on ebay

  • Chuck

    WOW….worked great!, my trackball is fast once again…big thanks!

  • Rico

    This does work, I had just finished cleaned my trackball with Simple Green, and the trackball well has suspension points that needed cleaning as well. Afterwards, the ball rolled like it was meeting lots of resistance. After googling “lubricating logitech trackball”, I hit this blog., and tried rubbing the ball on my forehead, and replaced the ball into the well, and Voila, smoooooooooooth rolling!

    Sebum is an oily substance secreted by the sebaceous glands in mammalian skin. Its main purpose is to make the skin and hair waterproof and to protect them from drying out.

    So, as a natural lubricant, its water proof too…

    Kew-El !!

  • michael

    Just put a small dab of Vaseline in the palm of your hand, rub your hands together…. and then rub the track ball as though massaging it. Coats it with a very thin film and works fine for weeks at a time.

  • Richard

    Wahahahahah! I could NOT believe it! I tried the forehead idea and it worked!!! I’ve tried like a million things with no luck before this. Seems like the best thing to use is the bees wax lib baum according to ya’ll on here. Gonna go out in a few min to buy some and try it. I thought my Logitech trackball was trash!

  • Cazimius

    I tried all the oils, chap-tubes, sprays, and they helped ….but never thought of lanolin. I had some old liquid lanolin stored in a cabinet somewhere, found it, tried it, and I think it’s superior to anything I used so far. I no longer experience even the tiniest of catches on my Logitech Marble Mouse. Lanolin has my vote.

  • Carlos

    Tried that on my Logitech M570, because I was having issues when executing small and precise moves: the friction would bother me a lot! And yep! It definitely it works! 🙂

  • I am about to give this a try on my Kensington Orbit trackball, I will report back soon.

  • adave

    Are you all mad?
    Just clean it and put a few coats of car wax on it. Polish it up with a soft cloth, and it’s good.

  • Shawn

    Those that suggested wd-40 make me laugh. It is not a lube. It actually removes rust and greese. What would be better would be a teflon spray, but use a very little in a cloth. Triflo woul do the trick…

    WD-40…. *shakes head*

  • Darryl

    No kidding (about the WD-40)! WD-40 is also a carcinogen (I know, what isn’t?). I don’t want my thumb permanently saturated with that crap. The car polish idea seems plausible, but again, I’m not sure about the chemicals.

    FWIW, I bought the new M570 Logitech trackball, (with the blue ball), and so far, I’ve noticed no stiction at all. I’ve been using it for maybe 8 months. I still need to pop the ball out to clean the gliders occasionally, but I haven’t done anything yet to the ball. It’s a very nice unit.

    Cheers!

  • nerdmaiden

    I tried cleaning my track ball with soap and then alcohol and it just got worse. Hmmm – face oils? I’m not wearing any makeup today, morning and my face is clean – I’ll try it.
    And it works like a charm. Thank you!! (Oh – get over it. Your face is cleaner than your hand and that’s on the trackball all day!)

  • Using my forehead as lube. Brilliant. I have a lot of that on my face. And voila. My trackball works great again.

  • justaguy

    I have a logitech mouse with a thumb trackball. All I did was pop the ball out using moderate force and clean the dust and gunk that had built up over a number of years. The trackball worked like new after that.

  • Malcontent

    I have a Kensington Expert Mouse wireless that has seen heavy use and over time has developed quite a bit of drag.

    I popped the bearings out and rotated them then replaced them altogether. That didn’t help. I also tried various waxes and lanolin oil. Those helped a little but also reduced the friction between my fingers and the trackball so they would sometimes slip instead of moving the ball.

    Last night I got a microfiber cloth and some polishing compound and gave the trackball a good polishing. I also washed all the lanolin off the trackball. It started off draggy but after picking up some skin oils is working better than ever now.

  • Kael

    I use an old trackball mouse, and all I have to do to get it to stop sticking is take the ball out, rub it off, and clean out the socket and the three metal ball/prongs. Usually it gets sticky because of buildup from dust, dead skin, and oil and sweat from my fingers. Oiling the trackball with face oil only temporarily fixes it, until it dries and makes it stick even more.

  • I cleaned the MS trackball with eye glass cleaner and the three little numbs inside and the ball was dragging like it was on worn out bearings….but naturally there are no bearings. I just rubbed in on my nose to pick up some grease and it works like new again….amazing. I know carpenters use the facial grease to lub screws when they are driving them into wood….that is an old trick so they will not be tough going in. Great tip!!

  • James

    Back when I used to game a lot I would use an old dryer sheet to lube the ball on my MS trackball. Worked great for weeks then it would clog up with skin oils and dust. Clean and repeat.
    Today I needed to lube my Logitech trackball but I don’t use dryer sheets anymore. Tried everything in the house from facial oils to olive oil to car wax. Finally cleaned it with hot soapy water and sprayed some Pledge on it. Working great now. I miss my dryer sheets.
    -James

  • bluezzy

    I tried the face oil trick and it only worked for a few days… I found the pledge treatment worked the best so far.

  • Pingback: What is the best trackball lubricant? Your face. | JDaveRhea.com()

  • Darryl Gittins

    Having tried most of these, I’ve concluded the best treatment is to give the ball a good cleaning with a micro-fiber cloth. I will retire my can of Burt’s Beeswax!

  • Art

    I have been using car wax for a long time and for some reason it no longer works. Out of desperation I tried what I had on my desk – Gold Bond Ulimate lotion – it works GREAT! Try it!

  • Don

    I have suffered with my Microsoft Trackball for years with the sticking problem. Nothing is more annoying.I have used the Burt’s Bees beeswax lip balm for the best results yet but it must be reapplied too often.

    I think I finally figured this out. The fine scratches cause the problem as stated in a previous comment. So first get rid of the scratches with Rain-x first. Clean the ball then apply Rain-x several times with a paper towel. Rub it in well. Let the ball dry for a minute then buff completely clean. Apply a thin coat of Burt’s Bees and you have the smoothest trackball on the planet.

    Rain-x works by sealing all the minute scratched in a windshield and does the same for the trackball.

  • Pingback: Kensington Optical Expert Mouse – Review & Teardown - jgen-tech()

  • coligny

    Pledge works for a good 5 minutes then you have a start-of-motion stickiness that makes sketchup hard to use.
    So I bought PTFE paste from ebay Ultimox 226, it’s a Dupont grade replacement PTFE containing synthetic fluorinated perfluoropolyether base + micronized PTFE + corrosion inhibitor. It’s a substituent for Auto Krytox 205 206 226. Works marvel… and last… No more histerisis when first moving the ball.

  • Rob

    Steris Foamed Antiseptic Handrub works great.

  • muscle_artist

    Holy crap that worked excellently! I am so dumbfounded by how simple that was.

  • rosemonster

    Worked great… but now I have zits on my face!! lol!

  • gross

    Lube tube on ur desk? U should really keep that to itself lol

  • SanDiegoUberMom

    Work Mouse: My normal routine is to use glass cleaner and cloth but have found that it still sticks. I thought this was due to the lotions I use each day and the buildup.

    I tried rubbing alcohol and that just seemed to make it stick more.

    But after readying a few posts today and seeing that a lubricant was needed I used what I had
    at the office…Paper Shredder Oil.

    I put one small drop on my finger, rubbed it onto my thumb and then onto the ball. OMGish what
    an instance difference! So happy that I found this site and ready through it!

    I like this mouse so much that I have one at home too. I would get jealous when I used it and
    would want to take it to work cause it was so easy to use, but not anymore!

  • RollingRat

    I honestly thought this was a joke, but I tried it anyway. Problem fixed = Mind blown.

  • Bruce Roth

    I just used my shredder oil and it was magic! I was getting desperate so thank you to everyone whose idea this was.

  • xpetalsx

    the forehead idea works awesome, ty so much for the advice, i’m glad i found this blog, tyty <3

  • synz4gyvn

    I second your holy crap…tried a bunch of different things before this and nothing worked. This is awesome and you never run out of lubricant, because you’re wearing it as long as you are alive. Thanks a lot!!

  • PrecsMO YinWai

    I loved the Logitech M570. But it annoyed me day by day. It got more and more sticky. I tried to clean it harder. I tried wax it. I tried pencil lead. It has got worsen. I put it aside for more than a year. But I have missed it. I really love the way how my thumb operate the cursor. I have been finding solutions in the web. But none worked. I found this web and I thought it is simply bullshit and purely a joke. But no harm trying. I rubbed the ball on my nose. It works!!!! My god!!!! Lol, this is not funny. It really works!

  • rkerst

    Believe it or not, this is well known to flute players. It’s called nose grease. When you want your right pinky to slide easily over the keys at the end of the instrument, stick the fingertip into the little crevice along the side your nose, then rub on the keys. Insta-glide!

  • Thank you so much.
    I have an MX570 that I’d given up on as hopeless, since the last 6 months. I even gave up my desktop for my Thinkpad with trackpoint.
    Went through all the usual cycles of grief and denial and WD40.
    My oily nose FIXED it. *happy dance*

  • Renee

    OK, that is just crazy! I have been fighting with this mouse for years and tried this and it worked instantly. Go figure.

  • chrisl1977

    Of all the crazy tips I’ve read, this is the only one that actually works. I read this article, thought up several new ball jokes, gagged a bit, and tried it. My Logitech M570 works perfectly now.

    Thanks for the tip!

  • BEER30TIME

    Oh My Gosh. Simplistic Brilliance!! My MS Trackball is going on 15 years old, and has been cleaned dozens of times. The last cleaning I did left it almost unusable and after a few weeks I was finally going to toss it. Found this article and IT WORKED!!!!! I took out the ball and rubbed it all over my forehead and nose and it’s as good as the day I bought it.

  • Don Joe

    All healthy skin produces some grease (sebum), but we find more of it on areas we don’t wash as aggressively, so typically not the hands.

  • George McCune

    I bought a new Kensington Trackball. Had trouble right out of the box. It wouldn’t roll very easy at all. It seemed to be my hands because my fingers were sliding and the ball wasn’t moving. After trying this idea of rubbing the ball on my forehead, Wow, problem solved, It wasn’t my hands, the ball just need a facial !!

  • Brad — This doesn’t just work well, the change in my Trackball Explorer is astonishing. It flies like it’s brand new! I’ve been cleaning mine all weekend since it started getting sluggish. I actually did clean out all sorts of minor gunk around the little silver guides inside the red housing. But the ball was still slow. Thanks for this – and to all your commenters for the confirmation! I’ll be rolling my roller ball over my nose regularly…

  • Great tip. I just got my old trackball out of storage and want to start using it again (have been using a mouse for years now). It wasn’t rolling well at all and a Google search turned up this tip. Simply brilliant!

  • Lloyd Kuijs

    WTF this worked perfectly, hahaha

  • Danny Sloan

    haha yup, super solution!

  • Gaffer

    Isn’t polishing compound somewhat abrasive? Wouldn’t that damage the smooth trackball surface, with other consequential damage???? I am going to try the shredder lubricant………

  • ARMALPEEd

    Eleven years ago?
    It worked the first time, thanks to my overactive sebaceous glands, but didn’t the next. Some serious diagnostic effort was successful: had to clean the snot out of it.

  • planetshining

    Ear Wax also works great.

    Press your thumb against your ear. After 20 seconds, your warmer hand will melt off a super thin layer of your ear wax, then use that thumb to drive your trackball. Presto!

  • BT

    “Mind blown” – and the best part, nose and forehead oil free!

Comments Elsewhere