How to Clean Your Gaming Controllers Without Damaging Them

How to Clean Your Gaming Controllers Without Damaging Them

One of the more fun side-effects of the pandemic (there aren’t many upsides, so we’ll take them where we can) is that more people are playing video games than ever. Controllers are now a focal point at many parties and family gatherings — which is why it’s important to regularly clean your controllers and other shared gaming hardware.

Whether it needs a disinfecting wipe down or it’s time for a deeper routine cleaning, here’s how to safely clean your gaming controllers. Though we’re focusing on console controllers, you can use the same strategies to clean your keyboard and mouse, portable devices like a Nintendo Switch, and VR headsets and peripherals.

[referenced id=”831745″ url=”” thumb=”×169.jpg” title=”How To Clean Your Dusty, Messy Desktop PC” excerpt=”Can you remember the last time you cleaned your desktop PC? I don’t mean wiping some guacamole off the the side of the case during a burrito binge. I’m talking about going in there and really getting all the accumulated dust out of your expensive parts (and fans). Spring cleaning…”]

How to safely clean your gaming controllers

First step: wash your hands (or wear gloves). Then make sure everything is disconnected and properly turned off to prevent shock or electrical damage. Unplug any charging cables or headphones wires from your PlayStation or Xbox controllers. If you’re cleaning a Nintendo Switch, remove the Joy-Cons, turn off the system, and take out the game cartridge. For VR headsets, power down the headset and controllers, then unplug all cables.

With everything turned off and disconnected, the next step is to wipe down your controllers with a safe disinfectant. The key here is to use a solution that is strong enough to disinfect but won’t damage the device, but the right product will depend on what you’re cleaning.

Screens — such as the Nintendo Switch’s display, your TV, a smartphone screen, or a VR headset’s lenses — should not be cleaned with alcohol or cleaners like Windex, as these will damage the glass. Use a dry microfiber cloth to clear away smudges and dust on the controllers or system body, and be sure to remove your Switch’s Joy-Cons before disinfecting (the Switch Lite’s controllers can’t be removed, so use extra caution to avoid touching the screen when wiping the console down with cleaners).

On controllers, use non-abrasive disinfectant products. Nintendo’s official support page suggests using products with no more than 70% alcohol on the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers, and that’s a safe ratio for most other gaming peripherals as well. Most disinfectant wipes are safe to use, but make sure you check any liquid cleaners you’re using and definitely don’t submerge your controllers or accessories in water.

After using the disinfectant wipe, let the controller rest for about 10 minutes before fully drying with a dry microfiber towel.

This should be enough if you’re just disinfecting between general use. However, if you want to give your controller a deeper clean, use a dry toothpick or cotton swab to gently remove dust and grime from the seams around each button and any other areas prone to collecting buildup. Give the controller another quick wipe down when you’re done, and you’ll be good to go.

This article was originally published in December 2020 and has been updated with additional information.

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


Leave a Reply