It’s hard/expensive to get unused original Nintendo GameCube controllers these days. So I have to buy some used ones. But I find it unpleasant that someone I don’t know had his hands on it for several years.

How could you clean GC controllers? Are there any effective ways?

  • 1
    I think this question would be applicable to all controllers in general, even keyboards. Unfortunately, I don't know about any effective mean to clean these (aside from taking them apart and cleaning each part one by one)
    – Nolonar
    Commented Apr 21, 2013 at 10:39
  • @Nolonar: Maybe there are some ways that only work for one controller, e.g. that taking them apart should only be done for GC controllers but not for DC controllers, or so. Here is a question for the DualShock 3.
    – unor
    Commented Apr 21, 2013 at 10:42

4 Answers 4


Get some isopropyl alcohol from your local walmart / medex / walgreens / CVS.

Not only will it kill any germs but it also evaporates quickly leaving little residue behind.

Make sure you get the 90-99% alcohol stuff. 75% alcohol is more common, but also leaves more residue.

Use a q-tip dipped in isopropyl alcohol to clean around the edges of the buttons and analog stick.

  • Do you think using a (soft) toothbrush (instead of a cotton swab) would work, too? Or could it damage the insides when brushing the apertures around the buttons/sticks?
    – unor
    Commented May 5, 2013 at 10:39
  • A soft toothbrush would work just as well. Just to be clear, are you talking about scrubbing the inside of the controller, or outside? I see no reason to take it apart as people's hands weren't on the inside of the controller. ;)
    – k1DBLITZ
    Commented May 5, 2013 at 16:20
  • Alright, thanks! I was talking about brushing the outside. However, some toothbrush bristles might find their way in through the button apertures.
    – unor
    Commented May 5, 2013 at 18:17

I've successfully used this sort of cleaning goop stuff on a lot of user-interface electronic equipment; it's kind of like Gak but has more tensile strength, and is infused with disinfectants.

The basic idea is you squish the stuff into the device, and it fills the cavities with goop; when you pull the goop back out, it brings the crud with it while leaving fast-evaporating disinfectants behind.

From personal experience I know that it works fairly well in general on keyboards, mice, and PS3 controllers (the amount of junk it can pull out of a keyboard is impressive, but that's what it was designed for); from what I remember of the GC controller, I don't foresee see any particular problems as long as you're careful around the thumbsticks - you don't want to accidentally leave goop behind there.

The downsides are that the stuff is surprisingly expensive, and doesn't last as long as you might think; keep in mind that it basically eats all the junk it comes into contact with, so it maxes out at about three keyboards-worth of grime, at which point it kinda starts falling apart.

I only had it at the time because an off-brand version of the stuff was on sale at a local electronics store. If cost is an issue, you're better off with a bottle of isopropyl, a pack of q-tips and a paper towel, as @k1DBLITZ says; it's not as fun, but is definitely effective.


Depends on the level of clean your trying to get. Frankly, I see no reason to take anything apart unless there is some need of repair, just use a disinfectant wipe or two and call it a day.


Here someone filmed how to take apart and clean/refurbish a Wavebird controller. He uses alcohol and a cotton swab.

The process should be the same, resp. even easier, for the normal GameCube controller:

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