How to Clean Your Xbox Controller

Although you may not notice it, your Xbox controller can quickly accumulate dirt, dust, and hand oil. Don’t worry, though! In this guide, we’ll show you how to clean your Xbox controller and get it looking brand new again.

The Importance of Cleaning

Cleaning your Xbox controller is essential, even if it appears relatively clean. Sweat and dust can easily build up in the crevices, affecting the overall performance and longevity of your controller. So, let’s get started on cleaning your Xbox controller both externally and internally.

How to Clean Your Xbox Controller without Taking It Apart

Most cleaning tasks can be accomplished without disassembling your Xbox controller. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cotton swabs
  • Toothpicks
  • A microfiber cloth
  • Isopropyl alcohol (70% or higher)
  • Canned compressed air
  • Spray bottle (optional)

To begin, use the canned compressed air to blow away any surface dust, pet hair, or human hair from the controller. Be cautious with the air compressor’s power, as it may push debris further into the controller. Next, use the microfiber cloth to remove any remaining dust and debris. If needed, you can mix a 50/50 solution of isopropyl alcohol and water in a spray bottle to lightly dampen the cloth. Pay close attention to the crevices between buttons and the undersides of the thumbsticks.

Xbox Controller Clean D-pad
Image: Jacob Roach/Digital Trends

Afterward, take a cotton swab soaked in isopropyl alcohol and gently clean the controller’s buttons, thumbsticks, d-pad, and triggers. Ensure that these surfaces are lightly covered with alcohol to remove any residue. If necessary, use additional cotton swabs for areas that require extra attention.

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To further clean the controller, use a dry toothpick to scrape the seams, removing any hidden oil residue. Pay special attention to the edge of the d-pad and the textured surface of the thumbsticks. Probe under the battery cover as well, as there may be oil accumulation in that area.

Xbox Controller Clean Back
Image: Jacob Roach/Digital Trends

Lastly, gently clean the headphone jack, accessory port, and Micro USB connection with another alcohol-soaked toothpick. Avoid applying excessive pressure to prevent any damage. Allow the controller to naturally air dry.

How to Take Apart an Xbox One Controller

If you still require further cleaning, disassembling your Xbox controller is necessary. Keep in mind that this process is advanced and should be done at your own risk. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A plastic pry tool
  • Precision screwdriver with TR8 bit
  • Magnetic parts tray
  • Soldering iron (optional and not recommended)

Start by removing the batteries from your controller and locate the hidden screw in the battery bay. Use a plastic pry tool to delicately remove the handle covers, being careful not to damage any internal components. Afterward, unscrew the four screws located on each handle using a TR8 bit. Remember to place the screws in their corresponding positions on the magnetic parts tray.

Xbox One Controller Handle Removal
Image: Jacob Roach/Digital Trends

To access the final screw, gently poke the sticker in the battery bay with your screwdriver, creating a small hole. Proceed to unscrew the hidden screw, ensuring a firm grip on the controller to prevent it from falling apart. Once removed, the front and back of the controller can be separated.

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Within the controller, you’ll find the internal components. Clean around the buttons and thumbsticks using a cotton swab soaked in isopropyl alcohol. Take care not to desolder any points on the motherboard, as this requires more advanced repair skills.

Xbox One Controller Internal Cleaning
Image: Jacob Roach/Digital Trends

For a more detailed disassembly, we recommend seeking professional repair assistance or following IFixIt’s button replacement guide for Xbox One controllers.

What to Do if Your Xbox One Controller Has a Jammed Button

If you have a button that’s jammed, it’s likely due to debris wedged beneath it. Following the cleaning process outlined earlier may dislodge the obstruction. In cases where the issue persists, the problem might be with the connection pad on the motherboard. In such cases, it’s best to consult a professional repair service.


Now that you know how to clean your Xbox controller both externally and internally, you can ensure optimal performance and longevity. Remember to repeat the cleaning process regularly to maintain your controller’s functionality. If you need further assistance, visit OnSpec Electronic, Inc. for more information and support.

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