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Cleaning Game Paks

In the past, people have tried "fixing" NES Game Paks by blowing in them. This can cause more harm than good, as the additional moisture attracts additional dust. Here, I describe a much safer technique that removes dust from an NES, Super NES, Nintendo 64, or Game Boy Game Pak, an accessory that fits in the Game Pak slot, or even PCI, AGP, or PCI Express cards. It is adapted from the technique used with the NES Cleaning Kit produced by Nintendo, but it needs no name-brand equipment.

What you need

Photo of what you need

You need the following items to clean a cartridge:

  • The Game Pak or accessory to be cleaned
  • A clean, double-sided cotton swab, or two single-sided cotton swabs
  • A bottle of isopropyl rubbing alcohol
  • A small cup, marked as containing fluid that one should not drink


Photo of step 3, with a GBA Movie Player
  1. Pour a very small amount of alcohol into the cup.
  2. Moisten only one side of the cotton swab with alcohol.
  3. Insert the moist side of the cotton swab into the cartridge's edge connector (see photo).
  4. Scrub back and forth several times over the length of the connector.
  5. When cleaning double-sided connectors, repeat the process on the other side of the connector, with the cotton swab rotated by 90 degrees.
  6. Repeat steps 3 through 5 with the dry side of the cotton swab.


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