How to clean and disinfect your Nintendo Switch

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch screen
(Image credit: Lori Gil / iMore)

At this point, several of you have been playing your favorite Switch games daily since it was delivered to your doorstep and the console is probably starting to look a little funky. It's OK. you're not alone. We've all been playing for hours at a time and managed to get food, sweat, germs, and all manner of things stuck to our Switch. At this point, it really needs a good scrubbing (but not literally).

It's fairly easy to clean the Nintendo Switch, Switch OLED, or Switch Lite. However, there are a few things you should be careful with, like the screen. It's not like any other mobile console gaming screen. It's more like a smartphone or tablet. You can't use chemicals and you should always use a microfiber cloth when possible. Here's how to clean your Nintendo Switch.

What you will need

Cleaning supplies for Nintendo Switch: Toothbrush, gauze, toothpicks

Things you need: Cloth, toothbrush, toothpick, cotton ball (Image credit: Future)

You will need a soft, cotton cloth — preferably a microfiber cloth. If you don't have one handy, just make sure the cloth is made of soft material, like an old t-shirt.

You should also have a dry toothbrush (one that has never been used, and will never be used to brush one's teeth).

For a really dirty charging port get a few toothpicks and some cotton balls or cotton pads so you can dislodge the gunk inside.

What to do before you start

Nintendo Switch next to microSD card and cartrdige

Power off your Switch, remove the card and cartridge, disconnect the Joy-Cons (Image credit: Lori Gil / iMore)
  • Power off your Switch, Switch OLED, or Switch Lite. Don't just put it in sleep mode. Turn it off completely. In order to do that, long hold the power button until a new screen pops up. Select Power Options and then Turn Off.
  • Remove the Joy-Con controller from the sides of the Switch so all parts are separate.
  • Remove any game cards and micro SD cards from their slots. You don't want one of the best Nintendo Switch games getting in the way. 

How to clean the Nintendo Switch screen

Cleaning Nintendo Switch display with cloth

wipe the screen with a soft cloth (Image credit: Lori Gil / iMore)

Just like with a smartphone or tablet screen, you should normally avoid cleaning the Switch's screen with any chemical, even dish soap. The screen has a special coating that may deteriorate over time if cleaned with chemicals. Though, for purposes of disinfecting your Switch, chemicals are necessary.

To clean fingerprint smudges, simply wipe the screen with the dry cloth until the smudges disappear. You might have to do this a few times to remove fingerprint oil.

To clean stuck-on grime, like a particle of food or something your baby had managed to wipe onto the screen (hey, it happens), use a damp cloth. Don't over-wet the cloth — you shouldn't even be able to squeeze any water from it. Wipe the screen in an up-and-down or side-to-side motion, focusing on the areas where grime has stuck. Wipe the screen again with a dry cloth and repeat the process until the particles have come off.

How to clean the Nintendo Switch case and controllers

Cleaning Joy-Con on Nintendo Switch

Wipe the controller with a soft, damp cloth (Image credit: Lori Gil / iMore)

One of the biggest problems with the casing and controllers is oil residue. The matte surface makes your Switch look extra dirty and also makes it difficult to wipe off.

Use a damp cloth. Don't over-wet the cloth — you shouldn't even be able to squeeze any water from it. It's important that you don't allow water to drip into any crevices around the buttons.

Wipe down all surfaces of the controllers and case with a damp cloth. Then, wipe it down again with a dry cloth. You may have to repeat this process a few times to get rid of all of the oil residue from your skin. I was able to successfully clean the case and controllers after three damp/dry wipes.

If any of the buttons feel sticky and hard to press, you may have some gunk lodged in the crevices. Take a dry toothbrush and scrub those areas around stiff or sticky buttons. Wipe any particles that come out with a dry cloth.

How to clean the Nintendo Switch cartridge slot and USB-C charging port

Cleaning Nintendo Switch USB-C port

Clean the charging port with a toothpick that has a bit of cotton on it (Image credit: Lori Gil / iMore)

Let me start off by saying that I do not recommend using compressed air to clean the charging port or cartridge slot on your Switch. Though there is no official support document from Nintendo stating this, canned compressed air (also known as spray duster or gas duster) is made from chemicals, which act like pressurized air when expelled from a spray can. Nintendo does specifically state that you should never use chemicals to clean your Switch.

The game cartridge slot is covered and won't likely need to be cleaned, but there is always a chance that some lint or fuzz will get lodged in there, compromising the cartridge's connection.

The charging port is much more likely to get gunked up because it is not protected when not in use, which makes it very susceptible to getting lint and dirt lodged in the port and thus compromising the charging cable's connection.

To clean the cartridge slot or charging port, first, twist a toothpick around a cotton ball or pad until the cotton catches and starts to wrap up around the toothpick. Don't get it too thick or it will be difficult to squeeze into the port or slot, and might come off inside.

Twisting cotton onto a toothpick

Twisting cotton onto a toothpick (Image credit: Lory Gil / iMore)

Then, put the cotton-covered toothpick into the port or slot and scrape against the back wall and sides. Be careful to avoid the metal pins. You don't want to accidentally scrape those pins. If you damage them, they may not work anymore.

You may have to blow into the port between scrapings to get out the loose lint or dirt.

Repeat this process until you no longer see any dirt or lint coming out of the port or slot.

How to disinfect your Switch

If cleaning is not enough, and you'd like to take the extra step to disinfect your Switch, you're going to need some disinfectant wipes, isopropyl alcohol, and/or a diluted bleach solution.

To disinfect the screen, which is more sensitive to harsh chemicals, we recommend using 70% isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab. Gently wipe the screen with a cotton swab moistened with alcohol and allow it to evaporate.

To disinfect the case and Joy-Cons, use a disinfectant wipe like Clorox or Lysol. If you are unable to find disinfectant wipes, the CDC recommends a diluted solution of four teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. Make sure your bleach is not expired and never mix it with any other household cleaners. Moisten a soft cloth (one that you don't mind getting bleached out) with the diluted bleach solution and wipe down your case and Joy-Cons, allowing the solution to air dry.

Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.