How to Safely Clean a Nintendo Switch

Keep your system looking good as new!
Tayler Tayler (71)
15 minutes

One of the most popular and portable systems on the market, the Nintendo Switch is arguably one of the best handheld consoles money can buy. While Switch gamers everywhere have had the opportunity to game using the home console mode (especially over the past couple of years), many are turning to their compact consoles for travel entertainment as the world continues to open up.

This increase in travel and the increase in exposure to the outside world probably has many gamers wondering, "Should I clean my Nintendo Switch?"

The answer to that question is yes!

Between the oils in our skin, gaming snacks, and the errant child's hand swiping at a Joy-Con, our Switches can become quite the collector of dirt, grime, and dust. Keeping your console clean is an important part of elongating its life and keeping it working good-as-new for as long as possible.

Here's how to safely clean a Nintendo Switch.

Toothbrush ×1 1
Toothpicks ×1 1
Lysol Disinfectant Wipes ×1 1

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Off Nintendo Switch

The first thing you should do when you set out to clean your Nintendo Switch is turn it off. Don't just put it in sleep mode - Completely power off your Switch.

Assuming you're a Switch owner, you likely already know how to do this. If you're new to the system, or you're conducting research on how to take care of one, here's how you turn it off:

  • Hold down the power button until a new screen pops up (this will take a few seconds of consistent pressing).
  • Select Power Options >> Turn Off

If your Switch was plugged in, unplug it. Liquid cleaning agents + electronics shouldn't mix.

Close up of controller in Nintendo

With your Switch powered off, you can now safely remove your accessories such as your Joy-Con controllers, the game you've been rigorously gaming, and your microSD card.

First off, remove the controllers by:

  • Press down on the small buttons on the back of the controllers, right below the L and R Buttons.
  • Slide the controllers up to detach them from the Switch.

Second off, remove your game card by:

  • Opening the game card slot cover at the top right of your Nintendo.
  • Using the tip of your thumb or fingernail, gently press the card down, into the Switch until you hear the card click.
  • Release your thumb, partially ejecting the card.
  • Slide the game card out and set it safely side.

Ensure your Switch is off before proceeding to the next steps.

Finally, remove your microSD card by:

  • Opening the stand on the back right corner of your Switch.
  • Once open, use the tip of your thumb or fingernail, gently press the microSD card down, into the Switch until you hear the card click.
  • Release your thumb, partially ejecting the card.
  • Slide the game card out and set it safely side.

You're ready to start cleaning your Nintendo Switch starting with the screen.

Nintendo screen

Whether you have the older Switch with LCD display or the newer one with the OLED panel, you shouldn't clean the screen with a chemically based cleaner.

Switches with the OLED panel come coated with what Nintendo describes as a "anti-scattering adhesive film" that, once damaged, can make the glass of the OLED easier to scratch.

Cleaning fingerprint smudges off your screen is straightforward – just wipe your screen with a dry cloth until the smudge disappears!

Cleaning stuck-on residue is a little more involved, but still simple.

  • Take a dry cloth and run it beneath the faucet.
  • Wring out most of the water to make it a little damp.
  • Clean your screen.
  • If your screen still has moisture on it, smooth a dry cloth over the surface until it's dry.
Joy-Con Controllers

The matte surface of your Switch can start looking grimy after many hours of gaming as the oil from your palms builds up on your controllers. When oil sinks into the spaces around the buttons, they become hard to press, affecting your gaming.

Cleaning the oil from your Joy-Con controllers is easy – it involves the same damp cloth you used to clean off caked-on residue (see the previous step). If you're facing sticky buttons, you can use a classic cleaning tool: a toothbrush.

Using a dry toothbrush with soft bristles (I'm a fan of these biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes) gently scrape around the edges of any problem buttons. Wipe away any particles with a cloth.

Nintendo Switch

Unlike cleaning the outside of your Nintendo Switch, cleaning the more delicate areas can be a little tricky. One accidental move and your system could be compromised. This might not be true of the cartridge slot, which is covered, but this is especially true of the charging port.

Unlike the cartridge slot, the charging port isn't covered unless it's in use, which means it's a lot more likely to collect dust and gunk.

Now, you might be tempted to use that handy dandy biodegradable toothbrush, but jamming the bristles into the charging port could damage the metal pins.

Here's what you do instead.

Firstly, shine a flashlight into the charging port to locate the dirt and grime. You don't want to go digging around this area willy-nilly.

Secondly, use a toothpick, very carefully scrape against the wall and sides of the port, being careful to avoid the metal pins. Repeat this step and the first one until the grime has been removed.

how to clean Nintendo Switch

In this day and age of frequent cleaning and disinfecting, your Nintendo Switch should be no exception to this trend. This is especially true if you're traveling with your system.

Thankfully, you can use disinfecting wipes as an easy way to disinfect both your Nintendo screen, your Joy-Con controllers, and your case. The wipes themselves won't be moist enough to cause any damage, and the alcohol will evaporate, disinfecting your system.

Once you've cleaned everything to your heart's content, replace your microSD card, your game card, and your controllers.

Happy gaming!

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