Should You Blow Into Your Nintendo Cartridges?
No, you should not blow into your video game cartridges.
Admittedly, it is tempting to blow on the metal pin component. Blowing out the dust collected inside the cartridge should ensure a clean connection when the cartridge is inserted into the console, right?
However, blowing into the cartridge runs the risk of the moisture from the breath accumulating on the copper pin components and corroding them over time if not dried (even causing the growth of mould in the worst-case scenario!). The moisture can also attract and trap dirt onto the surface of the pins and impede their conductivity. Moreover, when inserted into the console, it is possible for the moisture on the cartridge to corrode the 72-pin connector inside the console, which can in turn damage other cartridges that are inserted. So, it is no surprise that Nintendo specifically warns against blowing into cartridges in the fine print on the back of all Nintendo 64 games.
In fact, blowing into the cartridge may not help fix issues with it at all. It is unlikely that dust will accumulate in the cartridge to the extent that contact between the cartridge and console is severely hindered. In instances where blowing on the cartridge appeared to make them work again, it is more likely that simply removing and reinserting the cartridge (multiple times) is what fixed it! There are two explanations for this:
- Refitting the cartridge can help ‘realign’ the pins between the cartridge and console, thereby increasing the chances of a better connection.
- Refitting the cartridge can scrape off any rust or corrosion sitting on the metal pins of the cartridge.
If the accumulation of dust within the cartridge genuinely appears to be the problem, a safer alternative is to use a compressed air can, which circumvents the issue of moisture. However, for cartridges that are not working, the issue is generally that the metal pin component is dirty and requires cleaning. For instructions on how to safely do so using rubbing alcohol and cotton buds, please see this post.
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