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How To Clean Xbox One Controller In 7 Steps, With Photos

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How To Clean Xbox One Controller In 7 Steps, With Photos

Having a clean Xbox One controller is important not only for it to stay looking good but also for it to perform optimally. Dirt and grime easily stick to the controller’s plastic housing. However, you may not know that this debris can also get inside the controller and wreak havoc on its internal components. Fortunately, cleaning your Xbox One controller is easier than you may think.

The worst-case scenario is that liquid has infiltrated the casing. If this happens, you need to move fast to prevent further damage. Otherwise, a dirty controller by itself likely won’t be fatal. Further, dirt can quickly gum up the moving parts, such as the buttons, causing them to stick, which will have a negative impact on your gameplay.

Nobody wants their controller to stop working, so before that happens, here’s how to clean it.

Step 1: Take the Batteries Out

Clean Xbox One Controller, Remove batteries
Note: Remove the batteries BEFORE you start cleaning.

The first thing you need to do is take the batteries out of the Xbox controller. This prevents you from doing any damage to the internal components when using a cleaner. While the batteries are out, you should also inspect the metal contacts to look for signs of rust or debris.

Step 2: Get Supplies

Clean Xbox One Controller, Gather Supplies
Gather and set out your supplies so that they are all easily within reach when you want to clean.

Next, you need to get some supplies. Cleaning electronic components is pretty easy and can be done with household items. The only liquid you should use is isopropyl alcohol because it dries quickly and does not leave any residue. You can use something more powerful on the casing, but spray the cleaner on a rag first, then use the sprayed rag on the controller. It is also a good idea to have a toothbrush and some cotton swabs handy.

Step 3: Clean the Xbox One Controller Casing

Clean Xbox One Controller, Wipe Casing
Start cleaning your controller from the outside by wiping down the external casing.

Start the cleaning by wiping off any obvious dirt from the casing. While not critical, it will at least make taking the controller apart much easier. Similarly, you shouldn’t worry about the buttons and sticks too much, as you will be able to access them better once you have disassembled the controller.

Step 4: Disassemble

Clean Xbox One Controller, Disassemble
The plastic guitar pick style triangle opener works great to pry open the casing once you have removed all the screws.

Before you go tearing apart the controller, you should determine whether it really needs to come apart. If any liquid got inside, then it must come apart. However, if one of the buttons is sticking slightly, you may be able to clean the sides of it to get it clean enough. Also, make sure your controller is out of warranty because opening it will void your coverage.

To take the controller apart, you need to pop off the covers on both grips. Then, remove the two Torx screws on each side, followed by the one under the sticker in the battery compartment. Finally, separate the casing and disconnect the ribbon. From there, you can access most of the necessary components for cleaning.

Step 5: Clean the Xbox One Controller Buttons

Clean Xbox One Controller, Buttons
Use a cotton swab to clean in the gaps between the buttons and the controller casing.

A common problem is buttons getting liquid on them, which causes them to stick. Carefully clean the sides of the buttons, as well as the button holes in the controller casing. You can use a clean rag, a toothbrush, or a cotton swab.

Step 6: Clean the Xbox One Controller Thumbsticks

Clean Xbox One Controller, Thumbsticks
Use a cotton swab and move the thumbsticks around when cleaning. Also, don’t forget to clean the caps.

The thumbsticks are another common point of failure because they contain complex moving parts. Like the buttons, drinks and other liquids can get on them and cause problems with movements. Be sure to thoroughly clean the entirety of the thumbstick as well as the inner part of the casing near the holes while you have the controller taken apart.

Step 7: Wait Before Using

Clean Xbox One Controller, Test
After waiting and replacing the batteries, all that’s left is to try it out by playing your favorite game.

Lastly, wait a few minutes before reassembling to let the isopropyl alcohol dry. Typically, 5-10 minutes is more than enough before putting the controller back together. Finish up by putting the screws back in and snapping the covers on. Then, all that is left is to replace the batteries and test it out.

Here is a step-by-step video for further reference:

Happy gaming!

Stick Drift

Stick drift is an increasingly common phenomenon where the thumbsticks cause the action on the screen to move without the user touching the controls. What this means is that the thumb sticks are beginning to fail. Even worse is that these are not easily replaceable and are considered one of the more complex repair jobs on an Xbox controller.

If your character in a game is moving without you touching any buttons, then you likely have stick drift. Unfortunately, cleaning alone will not work as the problem lies in the sensor. The first thing you should do is contact Microsoft to see if your controller is still under warranty. Then, if you don’t feel comfortable repairing it yourself, look into local repair options or purchase a new controller.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can cleaning the controller fix connectivity problems?

Cleaning a controller usually won’t fix connectivity issues unless the controller had liquid damage, and you were able to clean it properly.

What can you do about rusty battery terminals?

The best way to fix rusty battery terminals is to use a small piece of high grit sandpaper or a small wire brush. Then lightly go over the rust until you get to bare metal. Be careful not to break them.

Are the Xbox controller's thumbsticks replaceable?

Yes, it is possible to replace the rubber caps of the thumbsticks as well as the switches. However, both these repairs will require you to disassemble the controller and source replacement parts.

Can you submerge the entire controller to clean it?

No, you should never submerge an Xbox controller into a liquid. If you do need to use a cleaner, spray the cleaner on a rag first before using the rag on the controller rather than spraying it directly onto the controller itself.

Will a spilled drink damage an Xbox controller?

Yes, a spilled drink can easily damage a controller’s electronic components. If you spill a drink or other liquid on a controller, take the batteries out immediately to prevent further damage.

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