How to Clean and Fix Nintendo Cartridges

Have you ever popped a Nintendo cartridge into your console and flicked the power switch on, only to be met with a blank screen on your television? It’s a frustrating feeling! Properly cleaning your Nintendo cartridges can help if your console does not read or boot them. Read on to learn a commonly used method to make the cartridge work again.

Items required:

  • 3 – 4 cotton buds per cartridge
  • Rubbing / cleaning alcohol

Notes on rubbing / cleaning alcohol:

  • Any household rubbing alcohol is suitable such as methylated spirits. Ensure that the ethanol content is at least 70%. Rubbing alcohol can be purchased from your local supermarket, hardware or drug store.


  1. Soak the cotton bud tip in alcohol and squeeze out any excess (so that the tip is wet but not dripping).
  2. Slowly and gently wipe against each metal tooth of the connector inside the cartridge. Make sure that both sides of the connector are wiped entirely.
  3. Inspect the cotton bud as you clean. It should become filthier as more gunk is wiped off the connector. Use a fresh cotton bud if it becomes too filthy.
  4. Keep on wiping the connector with alcohol-soaked cotton buds until the bud no longer gets dirty. Most of the gunk has been wiped off the connector at this point.
  5. Let the cartridge dry for approximately five minutes (alcohol dries very quickly compared to water).
  6. Firmly slide the cartridge into the console and flick the power switch on. If the television screen is still blank, try firmly sliding the cartridge in and out of the console a few more times.

If the above method does not fix issues with the cartridge, then there may be a more technical problem with the cartridge, or perhaps there is an issue with the console itself. Issues with the console are more likely if other cartridges cannot be played or are difficult to get working on the console.

Should you blow into your video game cartridges to clean them?

No, you should not blow into your video game cartridges. Doing so runs the risk of the moisture from the breath accumulating on the copper pin components and corroding them over time if not dried.

For more details on why blowing into cartridges is not a good idea, click here!

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