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
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
- 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
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
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
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.
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.
Kill those germs
Disinfectant wipes may be in short supply in your area. If you don't find it at Walmart, check this regularly-updated list to see where else you can find it.
Keeping things clean
The important thing to know about rubbing alcohol is that it has to be isopropyl and it has to be at least 70% to be effective against viruses.
The important thing to know about bleach is to be sure you're using the type that disinfects. Specially scented bleach, for example, does not disinfect. Check the label before you buy.
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.
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Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books. If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).