How To Clean Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Controllers

Date Published: August 1, 2021
Author: Kylee Smith

Nintendo Switch joy-con controllers need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Regular cleaning helps prevent buttons from sticking. A simple process is used to clean and disinfect these controllers. A few extra supplies and a couple of extra deep-cleaning steps have been added to the process for better results.

Joy-Con Cleaning Supplies

Be careful when cleaning joy-con controllers. There are certain tried and true methods along with the manufacturer’s suggestions used to clean your controllers. Grab the following five supplies and clean up your Nintendo Switch joy-cons in minutes.


A toothpick is used to dig out any dirt and debris around the buttons on joy-con controllers.

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Small Scrub Brush

A tiny, dry scrub brush is used to pull out remaining dirt and debris stuck behind buttons. A dry toothbrush can also be used.

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Microfiber Cloths

A few microfiber cloths are necessary for this task. One cloth will be used to wipe away the dirt and debris pulled up by the toothpick and scrub brush. The second cloth will be used to wipe down the controller with rubbing alcohol. A third cloth will be used to dry the controller.

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Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is used to clean and disinfect the controller and aides in unsticking buttons.

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Q-Tips are used in conjunction with rubbing alcohol to disinfect and unstick buttons.

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Cleaning Nintendo Switch Joy Cons

Cleaning Nintendo Switch joy-cons is a delicate task, but there is no reason to be leery. Use the supplies suggested and the cleaning steps provided to clean your joy-cons. Unstick those buttons, clean, and disinfect the controller, and get back to gaming within minutes.

Step One: Power Down System

The system must be powered down before cleaning the controllers. Hold the power button until the power menu appears. Press ‘power options’ and then select ‘turn off.’

Step Two: Dig Out Dirt Using Toothpick

Dig out dirt surrounding the buttons and underneath joysticks using a toothpick. Alternatively, a paper clip may be used.

  • Pro Tip: Be careful not to apply too much pressure, as doing so can bend the toothpick, breaking it off inside the space you are attempting to clean.
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Step Three: Scrub Using Small Cleaning Brush

Next, scrub the same areas using the soft-bristled small cleaning brush. Use a circular scrubbing motion, as it helps to loosen more dirt.

  • Pro Tip: If you use a toothbrush, it is best to use a new one. Doing so ensures that the toothbrush is not only completely dry but free of dirt and debris.

Step Four: Wipe Controller Using Microfiber Cloth

Use a dry microfiber cloth to quickly wipe down the controller.

  • Pro Tip: A cotton ball can also be used to complete this step. Paper towels should not be used.
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Step Five: Disinfect Buttons and Joystick Using Rubbing Alcohol

Dip a Q-tip in rubbing alcohol, and clean around each button and joystick. Press against each button and rub in a circular motion. Be sure to shake the Q-tip a bit to keep it from dripping while cleaning the buttons.

  • Pro Tip: This step is especially helpful for unsticking buttons to improve playability. Be advised, however, that cleaning agents like rubbing alcohol can fade plastic.

Step Six: Disinfect Entire Controller

Using a microfiber cloth and rubbing alcohol, continue to disinfect the rest of the joy con controller. Use a conservative amount of rubbing alcohol.

  • Pro Tip: A cotton ball can also be used in place of the microfiber cloth.

Step Seven: Dry Controller Using Microfiber Cloth

While rubbing alcohol evaporates rather quickly on its own, it is best to dry the joy-con controller using a microfiber cloth. First, this dries the controller faster. Second, it helps you mitigate the risk of rubbing alcohol discoloring the plastic.

  • Do not use paper towels, as they can leave behind remnants that cause problems.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning Nintendo Switch joy-con controllers requires several steps, but the task is easy to complete. When done, your controller will be clean, disinfected and offer better functionality. Routinely completing this simple task can prolong the life of your Nintendo Switch joy-con controllers.

FAQ: Cleaning Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Controllers

If other people are using your controllers, you need to regularly clean and disinfect your controllers. Doing so will minimize the transfer of bacteria and viruses.

How often should you clean Nintendo Switch joy-con controllers?

Clean your Nintendo Switch joy-con controllers once a month. If the buttons are sticking or your friends have used your controller, it may be necessary to clean your joy-con controller.

How do I keep my controller from getting dirt and dust under the buttons?

Proper storage helps protect your controllers from dirt, dust, and spills. Place them in an old shoebox, or better yet, purchase a bin that is able to store the controllers, games, and any other accessory you have.

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Do Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Controllers Drift?

Like with all gaming console controllers, the Nintendo Switch joy-con controllers are known to drift. The cleaning process detailed above helps eliminate the possibility of this problem while at the same time addressing sticky buttons in general.

Is there anything else you can do to address drift issues with joy con controllers?

Computer forensics experts use electrical contact cleaners on electronics. If the drift issues for your joy-con controller persist, try this product. For the best results, be sure to lift the flaps of each joystick using your finger or a toothpick when using an electrical contact cleaner.


Does calibrating or recalibrating a Nintendo Switch joy-con controller help eliminate drift?

If you are experiencing drift when using your joy con controller, calibrating, or recalibrating the controller could fix the problem. While this task is more of a troubleshooting step, it also helps facilitate better gameplay. 


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