I've been thinking to allow people in my bar to play some PS3/4 while drinking. Though there's a good chance the controllers will be spilled on, so I was looking for an easy way to clean a lot of controllers at once. Something that can be done in a few minutes every night.

I tried to find some 3rd party controller that's machine washable, but couldn't find any. I did find some controller covers, which are OK, but don't protect the buttons. Another option is perhaps some kind of a bath for the controllers, so they just sit in it over night, but of course normal water would ruin them. So perhaps some kind of cleaning fluid I don't know about? Or perhaps something completely different I have thought about?

Any help? Thanks!

  • "normal water would ruin them" isn't something to just assume — for example, keyboards can often be washed without damage. Water itself is only harmful to electronics if it's still present when power is applied. However I might be worried about getting water in complex parts such as the joysticks and either it not drying fast enough, or rusting metal components, so you're right to not just go and do it.
    – Kevin Reid
    Feb 9, 2014 at 16:39
  • @Kevin Yea that was my thought as well. I often clean my keyboard with water and some kind of degreaser. But that's only because you can easily take a keyboard apart, and properly dry it. It might also be possible with a controller, though much riskier, and it takes a lot of time. It would be great if it took only a few minutes, like 15 at the longest, to clean a bunch of them.
    – The Oddler
    Feb 9, 2014 at 17:53
  • Never heard about a waterproof PS3 controller. Short of putting the controllers into a re-sealable zipper storage bag you're outta luck, I'm afraid.
    – JC2k8
    Feb 10, 2014 at 13:09
  • 3
    a wipe down with an alcohol wipe should be good enough to degrease/remove stickiness (from dirty hands/sitting on a sticky surface/etc), and it should dry sufficiently overnight. If you're worried about drinks getting spilled inside the controller, I don't believe there is much you could realistically do about that.
    – turbo
    Feb 10, 2014 at 19:20
  • Going to echo what @turbo said - if stuff gets inside, there's probably not too much you can do. I picked up a box of 200 small alcohol wipes at Target fairly cheaply. They're sold by the pharmacy/health area. They're a great size for cleaning a controller or other small electronics.
    – Gauzy
    Feb 10, 2014 at 19:34

2 Answers 2


A few options which ideally should be employed to mitigate any damages are the following:

  1. Silicon covers - such as the one pictured.PS3 Cover
  2. Or even controller stickers which can be thrown away once used, a smart way to promote your bar/beverage. sticker

  3. Technically, as proved with mobile phones. You can submerge your controllers in pure alcohol (has to be as close to 100% (ethanol)). This would remove any moisture in the controller and leave it clean, however wouldn't recommend as a daily task as there may be grease and lubricant within the controller for joysticks or rumble feature.

A quick search on ebay will bring up 100's on options for PS3 and PS4.


I'm glad to hear you're thinking of adding a PS3/4 system to your bar. The increase in patronage will probably be noticeable, but keeping the system(s) running can be hard. I mean...I have a hard time just keeping my own PS3 at home working properly (I have cats and they clog the PS3 with their hair on purpose, I think, and I'm always losing where I put my games). On top of this, cleaning your PS3 controller can be a hassle.

In the old days of the NES and SNES, you could pretty much spill whatever you wanted on them, and they would still work fine. If you did manage to get liquid inside, it was four screws away from being cleaned out with some isopropyl alcohol.

I recently had to take one of my PS3 controllers 'to the cleaners'. At sometime in the recent past, I had gotten some sticky liquid near the PS button. A portion of this liquid had breached the outer hull of my PS3 controller, and the PS button would just stick. This could result in the PS3 thinking I was holding the button down, and the system would reset or turn off. I managed to get the controller apart (no small feat, as many of the buttons have springs and little pieces attached to them) using the iFixit guide. I finally got down to the PS3 button, pulled it out and washed it off. I re-assembled the whole controller, excited about using it again. The PS button didn't even get one good use. It appeared I had failed to clean it well enough and the darn thing still sticks (all the time).

The moral of the story is that there isn't an easy way to clean a PS3 controller. They're very delicate mechanical and electronic components. I would recommend using inexpensive third-party controllers that you won't mind replacing every once in a while and just wiping them down with Clorox wipes every night. Heck, you could probably pay someone a few bucks to 'deep clean' them once every three months or so anyway.

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