My 8-year-old niece played on my PS3 at Christmas, and ever since the X button on the DualShock 3 controller has been very sticky and has made most games unplayable with that controller.

A Google search turned up lots of hits for instructions on taking it apart to clean it, but it sounds like a difficult and time-consuming job. Are there any easier ways to remove the stickiness?


8 Answers 8


Don't be too afraid to open it up. I've had to open mine a couple times to replace thumbsticks destroyed by my son. iFixit has some great guides for replacing almost every internal controller component. The hardest part is getting the pieces that fit between L1/L2 and R1/R2 back in and secured.


If you want a thorough clean but don't want to open your controller, I recommend trying a product called Cyber Clean, it's a silly-putty like product which you can squeeze into tight spots and when you pull it out, it picks up dust, hair and other stuff that might get inside your controller. I've used it on my keyboard and it works. It doesn't compare to a thorough take-your-device-apart cleaning, but it's better than just wiping the outside.

If you do decide eventually to open your controller to clean it, make sure not to use anything that might damage the circuitry, and take care when taking the controller apart, the shoulder button springs tend to fly out. Also, opening your controller will probably void its warranty.

  • Would you be able to squeeze it in behind the X button? The gap between the button and the housing seems paper-thin.
    – jwaddell
    Feb 2, 2012 at 21:56
  • It may squeeze a couple of millimeters in. You can try cleaning through the right stick's base which seems to have a bigger gap to the housing.
    – JohnoBoy
    Feb 3, 2012 at 4:54

If you want a purely mechanical cleaning technique that doesn't involve dis-assembly or solvents, then one way that I've used in the past is to take an index card or similar, and curve it to match the curve of the button, then rotate it around the button while it is pushed into the controller. It may take multiple cards to get most of the sticky stuff out, and it often won't get everything. It usually does improve the feel of the button however and reduce the frequency of it getting stuck.


I would try a wet toothbrush while holding the DS3 upside down. That way any water that gets into the DS3 should come back out just with gravity.

That being said, I've disassembled my DS3 several times (typically for cleaning) and it's not that difficult. Oh, and there's no warranty sticker you have to break or anything like that, so no worries there.


A bit of alcohol can do wonders for sticky keys, just rub the area in question, let it find a way inside and wait for it to dry off. Vodka is your best shot if you have no medical alcohol (Wine and beer are right out). It dries off really fast, so shouldn't be too long a wait, still give it 30 minutes to be super safe. Make sure it is turned off first, though!


I opened my DS3 and cleaned the sticky keys with alcohol. And also my charging pin was loose. Fixed that by tightening the soldered point and put the controller back together easily. Took 30 minutes in all, of which putting it back together took up 20 minutes. It's worth it - works as good a new one now.


I made a video for disassembly and cleaning:


Use an air duster. The force of the air should get the stuff out.

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