Cleaning Consoles

Cleaning Consoles

Ever find one of your old systems and controllers buried in your garage, covered in years of dust and funk?  Have you bought a used controller and realized how unbelievably gross it is?  Well, don’t worry, I have the perfect solution for you that can make almost any old system or controller look new again!!!

(for the record, this will not fix SNES systems that are discolored and yellow)

You’ll need a few basic things, but there’s one main thing that makes this possible: GooGone.  I discovered the stuff over 10 years ago and it’s amazing.  I’ve cleaned everything with GooGone and it always makes things look brand new again!  Okay, I’ll stop before I sound like an infomercial.  Anyway, here’s what you need:

– Tools to open your console (most of the time you just need basic screwdrivers, but SNES and N64 require this tool).
– GooGone spray gel.
– Kitchen brush with plastic bristles, not metal!
– Any dish detergent
– A sink
– Compressed air (I highly recommend a “computer cleaner” or compressed air)
– A video game console or controller that’s had all of the metal and electronics removed.

  1. First, make sure your console or controller has had every bit of metal or electronics removed!!!!  Seriously, unbolt and remove everything. 
  2. Spray all of the electronic components with compressed air.  This is one of the few chances you’ll probably have to get the electronics clean and the less dust that’s covering them, the cooler the components will run. 
  3. Also, an important tip:  Make sure your sink drain is closed when working on controllers…you wouldn’t want to lose any small controller parts down the drain!
  4. Spray some GooGone directly on the dirtiest areas, especially the controllers (ewww):
  5. Splash a little bit of water around the GooGone. 
  6. Use the plastic bristled brush and thoroughly scrub the entire console or controller for as long as it takes to get clean.
    – Clean all individual pieces as well, such as controller buttons, expansion doors, etc.
    – Do not scrub over any labels, just around them.
    – Add water and more GooGone as needed.
    – If needed, spray some GooGone on a Q-tip to get in tight areas, like the holes in the controller where the buttons sit.
  7. Wash off as much as the GooGone as you can.
    – Try your best not to soak the labels, but they will get wet.
  8. Squirt some dish detergent and scrub once again, making sure to get a good lather and scrub every bit of your system or controller (that’s not a label).
    – The purpose of the dish detergent is to clean off the slippery residue that the GooGone leaves behind, as well as clean any remaining dirt out.
  9. Once again, wash off the console and make sure you get all of the soap out. 
  10. Shake off the excess water. 
  11. Dab (not rub) the labels with a towel.
    – You should dry the labels as quickly as possible, so they don’t get discolored.
  12. Use compressed air to get the water out of hard to reach spots. 
  13. Leave everything to dry for at least a few hours.
    – I usually repeat the last few steps every hour or so to speed things along: shake excess water, spray with compressed air, dry labels with towel.
  14. The controller cords and connector at the end usually get really dirty as well.
    – Spray a little bit of GooGone on a paper towel to clean the cord and connector.
    – Repeat the process with a bit of water (or maybe Windex or something) on the towel to get the GooGone off.
    – Make sure to scrub extra good on the connector at the end of the controller…you’d be surprised how dirty those get too!:
  15. Seriously, cords get dirty.  I’d consider this one “very clean” and look how gross it left the paper towel:
  16. After everything is completely dry, re-assemble it and enjoy your “brand new” console or controller!

I posted a video of the whole process if anyone wants to see it for themselves. 

Here’s some before and after examples (click on each one for full-size…but I’ll warn you, they’re really gross):

Since you have the console apart, why not take this opportunity to clean the cartridge inputs?  strongly recommend that everyone follw this guide with all their old systems!!