Safety Tip: How To Clean Your Nintendo Switch, PS4, & Xbox One Controllers

Your controllers are already filthy, but now that there’s a pandemic going around, it’s time to keep them clean in order to keep you and your family safe. Here’s how.

We’re not sure if you’re aware of this, but the world is slowly going into lockdown thanks to the coronavirus. Schools are closed, businesses are deserted, planes are grounded, and even national borders are shut. Governments are asking to avoid large crowds or groups of people and asking us to practice “social distancing” in order to slow the virus’ transmission.

But something that the government fails to mention is your controllers. Just like your phone, they’re absolutely smothered in germs, and it’s about time you cleaned them up. This is especially important if you recently had friends over to play some split-screen games. You don’t know if they have good handwashing practices!

Here’s how to clean your controllers whether you’ve got a PS4, Xbox One, or a Nintendo Switch.

What You Need

For this operation, you’ll need cotton swabs, toothpicks, paper towels or a damp cloth, and some sort of sanitizing agent. We recommend isopropyl alcohol as it’s both cheap and unlikely to harm your controller, but other specialized cleaning agents can be used here too. Just make sure whatever cleaning agent you use won’t melt rubber or plastic. Don’t use water as it could corrode metal components.

In general, you will be using cotton swabs to remove dirt and grime from in between buttons and beneath thumbsticks, you’ll be using toothpicks to pick out dirt from whatever cracks are in the controller’s casing, and you’ll be using a cloth to apply disinfectant to your controller’s surfaces.

Cleaning Your Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons

Since the Joy-Cons are so small, this job will probably be the easiest of the three and will serve as a template for cleaning the PS4 DualShock controller and Xbox One controller.

First, use a toothpick to remove dust and dirt from between the plastic casing and the various buttons on your Joy-Con. If you’ve had your Switch for a long time and have never cleaned it before, this could be kinda gross. Make sure you have something to catch that dirt and grime in, or that you have a vacuum ready to pick it up off the floor.

Next, using a cotton swab to remove dirt from beneath the thumbsticks and where the controller would normally connect with the Switch screen. If things are particularly bad, you may dampen the cotton swab in alcohol before you begin scrubbing. Make sure your swab isn’t too damp before you begin scrubbing as you don’t want to get liquid inside the casing. Also, use the swab to clean in between the buttons as it can be difficult to get in there with a cloth.

Finally, dampen a paper towel or cloth with alcohol and give the Joy-Con a good rubdown. Any obvious stains might need a bit of extra elbow grease (just a saying–DO NOT apply actual elbow grease to your Joy-Con) but otherwise you’re just looking to remove whatever oils might have built-up on the controller’s surface. Oils from your skin contain germs and might be hiding the coronavirus, so be sure to get every surface that regularly comes into contact with your hands.

Now just wait a bit for the alcohol to evaporate and you’re good to go.

Cleaning Your PS4 DualShock Controllers

For the DualShock, follow the same procedure as the Joy-Con, first using a toothpick to scrape out dirt from the controller’s cracks, then using a cotton swab to rub down hard-to-reach areas and between buttons, before finally rubbing the whole device with a cloth in rubbing alcohol.

Specific tactics for the DualShock include toothpicking around the central touchpad, which can often receive a build-up of dead skin if it sees frequent use, as well as the D-pad and trigger buttons. Both thumbsticks should be swabbed thoroughly, and the connecting port should also be given special attention. The speaker grill can also hide dirt, so waggle your toothpick in each grill hole to knock that dirt loose.

Unlike the Joy-Con, there’s a lot of surface area on the DualShock to cover, so when wiping it down be mindful of the DualShock’s shape.

Cleaning Your Xbox One Controller

The beauty of the Xbox One controller is that it has a very simple clamshell design, meaning there’s really only one seam where the two plastic halves come together. That means there’s only one crack to dig with your toothpick and wiping it down is also easier due to the lack of touchpad.

The only real challenge will come at the top where the Xbox One Controller has a more complicated series of bumpers, triggers, and connecting ports. Spending some additional time here with your toothpick and cotton swab will be necessary as a result.

On the plus side, wiping down the smooth plastic surface on the Xbox One Controller will be easier than the other two, so this shouldn’t result in an overall increase in cleaning time. Just remember to be as thorough as you were before and no coronavirus will survive your cleansing assault!

Don’t forget to wash your hands before and after you clean your controllers.

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