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How to clean your joy-con to prevent drift

Updated: Feb 12

Fifty dollars. That´s how much it can cost you to replace your Joy-con because you let some dirt enter beneath the rubber and ruin your thumbstick. It is quite a common problem for the Nintendo Switch´s default controller, and the main cause of the ever famous "joy-con drift".

We touched on this topic in the past, the short version is that the joy-con drift is usually caused by junk, dirt, and dust getting under the plastic flaps of your thumbstick and messing with your inputs.

Trying to keep your Joy-con clean can help reduce the risk of this happening, but it´s very unlikely to work in the long run unless you are willing to wash your hands before playing every time.

So, is there another way to prevent the infamous drift? To stop it before it completely ruins your joy-con?

Yes, you can try to clean under your thumbstick with one of the three several methods that we are about to tell you. Before we begin, however, you should keep in mind that If your stick is already moving your cursor all the way to the edge of the screen without your input, then it might already be too late. You should consider giving it back to Nintendo to see if they can fix it or switch it out for a new one.

On the other hand, if you are just experiencing a bit of drift, then this might just end up saving your joy-con. So, how do you clean it?

Cleaning your Joy-Con with compressed air

To try this fix you will need a compressed air can like this one. Using it is quite simple, move your thumbstick to one side and insert the straw just below the rubber flap of the joystick. With everything in position, blast the compressed air until you feel like you blew all the dirt inside.

Then, move the can to another angle and keep blasting away. You are trying to inject air at each side of the joystick. Let the junk inside the stick fall out, and when you are done, wipe the controller thoroughly with a cloth or napkin to avoid having any residual dirt go back inside the controller.

That should be everything you need to do to clean your joy-cons with compressed air.

Cleaning your Joy-Con with Q-tips and alcohol

This is by far the easiest solution, so far as setup is concerned. All you need is some Q-tips and some Isopropyl alcohol.

To clean your Joy-con with these tools, first, drench a q-tip in alcohol. Then, grab that q-tip and wedge it in-between the plastic layers that there are in the middle of your thumbstick. It should be able to fit in with a bit of effort. With the tip in position, simply rub the inside of your stick to coat it in alcohol.

Make sure to repeat this process from all sides to ensure that you reached every part of your Joy-Con´s stick. Then move the stick in circles to spread the alcohol everywhere that you missed. Leave the controller to dry for a bit and when you come back, it should be responding a lot better than before.

Here´s a video from youtuber Nintendrew demonstrating how it´s done.

Cleaning your Joy-Con with Tweezers and a bit of Electrical contact cleaner

This is similar to the previous method, but with tweezers and a bottle of Contact Cleaner instead of Q-tips and alcohol.

The idea here is to use the tweezers to gently lift the plastic directly under your thumbstick. Once you have the inner stick exposed, spray a bit of the Electrical Contact Cleaner inside the Joy-Con.

Don´t use a lot, spray the only what´s necessary to give your stick a thin layer of the liquid. Keep doing this for all sides and when you are done move the sticks in circles to spread the ECC around.

Once it´s dry, try using the joy-con and see if there´s an improvement.

And that´s it

These are the easiest ways to clean your Joy-Con, if you want to go further you might need to disassemble the controller. In that case, why not try to just replace the stick once and for all? Ifixit has a handy guide on how to do so. Replacing the stick is something quite common in other controllers, as it lets you replace it with a specialized nub for extra precision.

Of course, that´s just the last resort. If cleaning really didn´t help your drifting situation in any way, then you are better off talking to Nintendo Support or just straight-up buying a new Joy-Con.

And, if you dropped your Switch in the sink, you can learn how to try and salvage it from our guide here.


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