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How to clean your Xbox controller

Although you can spend many months without dirt on your controller, it will likely be covered with dust and hand oil after a few weeks. In this guide to cleaning your Xbox controller, we'll show you how to make your controller look brand new.

In addition to cleaning the outside, we'll talk about how to disassemble your . Xbox controller for cleaning the inside. This is an advanced process that can damage your controller. Therefore, only try it if you are familiar with electronics. After cleaning your Xbox controller, be sure to read our guide on cleaning your PS4 controller.

How to clean your Xbox controller without disassembling it

Most Xbox controller cleaning jobs only require an external sweep. Even if your controller appears relatively clean, you should still clean it completely. Sweat and dust can easily accumulate in the columns of your controller, and although you may not see the structure, it is almost certainly there. Here's what you need to do to clean your Xbox controller without taking it apart:

  • cotton swab
  • toothpick
  • a microfiber cloth
  • isopropyl alcohol (70% or higher)
  • Compressed air from the can [19659006]] Spray bottle (optional)

Depending on the percentage of your isopropyl alcohol, you may also need water. To qualify as "cleaning alcohol", a bottle of isopropyl alcohol must contain at least 70% alcohol to 30% water. If your bottle has a higher percentage, you may need to dilute it with water. However, do not go overboard. Isopropyl alcohol is still the recommended cleaning medium.

The Sweep

First, use your compressed air can to remove surface dust, animal hair, or human hair from the face of your controller. If you have an air compressor, you can also use it to clean surface dust, but be careful. Too much airflow can push crumbs and dust deeper into your controller.

If the large parts are out of the way, rub your controller with your microfiber cloth. The goal is to remove dust from your controller before using the microfiber cloth as the more garbage in your cloth will be less effective. If you're having trouble, you can mix a little water with your isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle (the goal is a 50/50 mix).

Lightly dampen your microfiber cloth with the spray and let it run over the controller again, paying close attention to the inner space between the buttons and the undersides of the thumb pins. After you're done, let your controller dry naturally. The remaining moisture removes fluff from towels, paper towels and handkerchiefs. So it's best to let the air do its job instead of drying your controller manually.

Knobs and Columns

When the surface is cleaned, it's time for the details to proceed. Take a cotton swab and carefully dip it into your isopropyl alcohol (no additional water this time). You don't want the swab to drip, you just want it to be saturated so that alcohol covers all of the cleaning surfaces. Use it to gently clean the buttons, thumb pins, the directional pad and the triggers on your controller and cover these surfaces lightly with alcohol. You don't want to drown them, but you want enough there to remove residue.

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

If you work around the controller, you may find that there is not a single sweep. Not enough for some areas. If this happens, run over it again with a new cotton swab slightly soaked in isopropyl alcohol. Let your controller dry naturally again. Alcohol dries very quickly, so you shouldn't wait too long.

Now take a dry toothpick and carefully scratch the seams of the controller. Although you may not see it, there is likely oil from your hands that has found a home in the folds of your controller. Repeat this process on the edge of the directional pad and on the textured surface of the thumb pencils. You may have to go over the thumb pencils a few times. The textured ring at the top has a knack for catching the oil and hiding it from your hands.

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

You may also want to look under your battery cover. During our demolition we even found oil accumulations there, although we used a relatively new controller.

Carefully rummage around the headphone jack, accessory port, and micro USB port with another dry toothpick. "Gentle" is the key word here. The aim of this step is not to clean these connections, but to remove any crumbs. You also run the risk of damaging the connector if you push too hard. So be careful.

Finally, take a third toothpick and let it soak gently in alcohol (the higher the percentage, the better for this step). Use this option to clean the connectors on your controller. Also make sure that you don't press down too hard. Let the alcohol dry naturally again.

Then test your controller to make sure all the buttons feel right and the connections are working. When everything is checked out, you're done. Simply repeat this cleaning process about every month to keep your controller working. However, if you have mushy buttons, you'll need to take your controller apart.

How to disassemble an Xbox One controller

If you need to do more cleaning, you'll need to take it apart apart from your Xbox controller. Although the cleaning process described above works for Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers, it explains how to specifically disassemble an Xbox One controller. It should go without saying, but this is an advanced process. So try it at your own risk.

Before you get involved, you need the following:

  • A plastic chisel tool
  • Precision screwdriver with TR8 bit
  • Magnetic bowl
  • Soldering iron ( optional and not recommended)

First remove the batteries from your controller. In addition to the risk of electric shock, there is a hidden screw in the battery compartment that you need to access. We will come back to that shortly.

You need to remove the handle covers. Press one of the triggers and use the opening to clamp your plastic lever tool into the controller. However, don't go too deep. The goal is to carefully pry the handle cover off your body and not damage any of the internal components. Work your way around the edge of the handle and rock back and forth with a little force.

  Removing the Xbox One Controller Handle
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

You need to pry the handle cover off, but don't force it. The back and forth movement should generate a series of clicks, which means that the plastic bits that hold the controller together have fallen apart.

When removed, you will find four screws, two on each handle. Unscrew them with a TR8 bit, being careful not to remove them. If you've never used this type of bit before, this applies to Torx heads that look like a six-point star. It is impossible to remove these screws with a Phillips screwdriver, and although you may be able to insert a flat-head screwdriver, you will almost certainly remove the screws before removing them.

Carefully remove the screws and place them in your one compartment for magnetic parts according to their position on the controller (for example, the screw on the top left is in the top left of your compartment). Finally, grasp the front of the controller and carefully push the sticker in the battery compartment. You will find a small hole. Carefully pierce it with your screwdriver to reveal another screw.

  Xbox One Controller Cotton Hidden Screw
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

At this point, this screw is the only thing that holds your controller together Hold the body firmly when you remove it. Once it's out, you can freely remove the back by pulling it down and back. The front should fall off immediately.

The bones of the controller are between the two. Everything is still in place, only with a little more space. Clean the buttons and thumbsticks again with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol. This is fairly easy as there is a plastic cover on the inside that holds the buttons in place.

  Cleaning the inside of the Xbox One controller
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

We recommend stopping here. To correctly remove the motherboard, you need to unsolder a few points on the board and remove two small Torx screws. If you're feeling brave, we recommend that you follow the instructions on how to replace IFixIt buttons for Xbox One controllers. If your controller is still not clean at this point, you should contact a professional repair service.

What to do if a button is blocked on your Xbox One controller?

  Xbox One controller failure
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

If a button is stuck, the most likely culprit is a villain crumb that has worked its way between the front of the controller and the button. If you closely follow the external cleaning process described above, you should be able to fix any muddy or sticky buttons you have. If not, there is a problem in your controller.

We recommend cleaning the problem button thoroughly after disassembling the controller. If this still doesn't solve your problem, there may be something between the button and the connector panel on your controller's motherboard. In this case, we recommend that you use a professional repair service.

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