Nintendo Says Stop Using Alcohol To Clean Your Joy-Cons

Nintendo Says Stop Using Alcohol To Clean Your Joy-Cons
Image: Kotaku

You might have heard there’s currently a global pandemic going on. As a result you might be using things like alcohol and disinfect wipes to clean off your stuff, including your Switch. Nintendo says don’t, at least if your priority is not damaging the system’s finish. For many, it probably isn’t.

“Recently, customers have been asking whether they can disinfect their Nintendo Switch consoles and Joy-Cons with alcohol,” Nintendo Customer Service wrote on Twitter yesterday based on a translation by Kotaku. “We’re very sorry to say please avoid using alcohol as it may cause the plastic parts to fade in colour or deform.”

But not just alcohol. The company went on to say that other cleaners were potentially risky as well. “We also cannot recommend using non-alcoholic disinfecting sheets, as depending on the ingredients, they may damage the plastic parts,” wrote Nintendo.

This isn’t necessarily surprising news to anyone who’s tried to mod their Joy-Con or use weird chemicals to clean them in the past. The finish is extremely fickle and easy to rub off. The spread of covid-19 is serious, though, and wanting to keep your electronics from potentially being carriers for the virus is smart, especially for anyone frequently sharing their Switch with roommates or loved ones.

“Clean AND disinfect updated its support page for the iPhone last month to tell users that, contrary to its previous recommendations, it was ok to “gently” wipe-down their devices with certain alcohol and Clorox-based wipes.

So what can you use to wipe down your Joy-Con? “For cleaning purposes, please use a soft dry cloth,” the company wrote, advice which you should definitely ignore if you’re worried that your Switch might be contaminated. No one’s going to be winning awards for the most pristine looking special edition Joy-Con when this whole thing is over.

Nintendo did not respond to a request for comment. 


    • Since this has bounced back to the front page I need to add, seriously, you can’t catch coronavirus, or any other disease, from yourself.

      Further, generally speaking, if someone else in your household (“room-mates or loved ones”) is ill from something there’s a pretty high chance that you’re going to get that disease one way or another given that you share the same furniture, air, pets, door handles, bathrooms, kisses goodnight (if not something more passionate), etc.

      Furthermore, unless you literally clean the damn thing with gloves on before touching it you’ve, like, touched it already, eh? If you’ve been fondling the thing for the last two hours binging on Super Smash Bros. it’s a little too late to sterilise it after the fact.

      There is literally no good reason to obsessively clean your phone or controllers unless you are passing them around between people outside of your household.

  • Alcohol should only be used as a hand sanitiser to stop viruses from spreading and any tiny droplets that land on surfaces that other people touch with their bare hands.
    Never use alcohol to clean your Nintendo Switch that’s always a bad idea.

  • really not sure why so many people lump praise on the switch. its an over priced pocket watch with barely more computing power than an abacus that runs mostly childrens games or extensively stripped down versions of adult games. and you cant even sanitise it lest you tarnish its finish.

    • Alcohol and bleach are solvents. The usual advice when using them to clean plastics is to rinse the item thoroughly afterwards. That’s not really possible for an electronic device like the Switch’s controllers, so daily cleaning is likely to leave a fair bit of residue. It’s hardly about being well made or not.

      • Given that the Switch is marketed based on the premise of mobile gaming, and Nintendo are essentially saying you can no longer use it outside of your own home and not to use it unless you have sanitised your hands beforehand (else you potentially end up with a contaminated device and Nintendo are now saying you cannot follow medical advice for cleaning contact surfaces without voiding the warranty), this could be viewed as something of a design flaw.

        • In much the same way a lack of EMP shielding is only a design flaw after a nuclear bomb has been dropped.

          Seriously though, most electronics have the same strict restrictions on cleaning and warranties, the use of alcohol to clean your phone will screw up the finish and in some cases the damage the plastics and internals.
          The only difference is the phone manufacturers have had a little longer to change their tune and decide that the pros outweigh the cons in this situation.

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