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    Cleaning/Care FAQ by Fleck

    Version: v1.2 | Updated: 12/13/05 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    SNES General Cleaning/Care Guide v1.2
    By: Jason Fleck
    GameFAQs - Fleck
    April 2005
    A. Introduction
    B. Cleaning FAQ
       1. What causes games/console to get dirty?
       2. What materials will I need?
       3. Methods of Cleaning Cartridge Contacts:
         a. Q-tip/Alcohol Method
         b. Emory board method
         c. Official SNES Cleaner
       4. Methods to clean outside of cartridge:
         a. Sticker Removal (Submitted by DarkBubble)
       5. Cleaning the inside of your cartridge:
       6. Basic SNES Controller Pad Maintenance (Submitted by DarkBubble)
         a. Cleaning
         b. L and R Button Repair
         c. Repairing Contacts
       7. SNES Console Cleaning FAQ (Coming Soon!)
    C. FAQs
    D. Miscellaneous
    A. Introduction
    You are probably wondering why on Earth we would need a FAQ about how to clean 
    your cartridge, but you wouldn’t believe how many people ask that question on 
    the Super Nintendo General message board.  So, I have taken the time to outline
    a few easy ways to keep your SNES cartridges clean and working perfectly.  
    Should you have any questions (hopefully this FAQ will be comprehensive enough 
    that you won’t), feel free to e-mail me at fleck586@yahoo.com.
    B. Cleaning FAQ
       1. What causes games/console to get dirty?
       Again, this stuff may seem obvious, but any type of dirt or dust that comes
       into contact with your cartridge or SNES is going to soil it.  I have seen 
       cartridges with dried pop, oil, and other nasty things on them, too.  The 
       reason it is important to know this is because dirty cartridge contacts are 
       going to not only dirty up your machine, but 99.9% of the time are the 
       culprit when your game won’t load correctly; thus, the purpose of this FAQ 
       in the first place.
       2. What materials will I need?
          Depending on what method you choose, here is a brief list of materials
          that you will need to clean your games:
          Bit compatible screwdriver
          3.8mm Security bit
          4.5mm security bit
          Can of air (air duster)
          Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
          Windex (or any other household cleaner)
          Emory Board
       3. Methods of Cleaning Cartridge Contacts:
         a.	Q-tip/Alcohol Method
         This is probably the most widely used method of them all (or at least some
         derivative of it).  Easy as it sounds, just dip a Q-tip into some rubbing 
         alcohol and rub the contacts at the open end of the cartridge, and you 
         might want to clean the whole underside of the cartridge while you’re 
         there.  You’ll be surprised at how much dust gets trapped in there.  Put a
         little elbow grease into it.  You really will notice quite a bit of grime,
         usually, so you may need to repeat the process several times.  Keep 
         repeating this until the Q-tip is clean afterwards.  Some people dilute it
         with water, but I find that the alcohol by itself evaporates faster and 
         therefore may cause erosion.  Once the contacts and underside of the 
         cartridge are clean, use a dry Q-tip to dry up the excess alcohol left 
         over from your cleaning.
         b.	Emory Board Method
         For those who do not know, an emory board is basically a fingernail filer.
         I will say before going into this that I DO NOT recommend this method, but
         I know a lot of people use it and it works for them, so you be the judge.
         All you do is slide an Emory board across the contacts of the cartridge 
         until whatever is on them has been broken up.  You can then clean off the 
         grime using a q-tip or rag.  The Emory board is very abrasive and acts 
         almost like sand paper to get really hard stains off the cartridge.  Now,
         the reason I do not use this method is because it tends to corrode your 
         contacts pretty bad after a while.  As I said before, some people swear by
         this method and I definitely have had things on my cartridge that seemed 
         like they would never come off, but scratching it off is not an option 
         for me.
         c.	Official SNES cleaner
         I’m not going to go too much into these, because they have their own 
         instructions that you can read if you have one.  But, really I just wanted
         to note that these do exist and you can use them to clean the contacts on
         not only your machine, but your games, too.
         You can find instructions on how to use them here:
       4. Methods to clean the outside of your cartridge
       There are several different things that you can use to clean the outside of 
       your cartridge that I thought deserved mention.  First is Goo Gone.  Use 
       this with extreme caution.  It is very abrasive and will soak in to the 
       labels of your games and break down the glue that holds it to the cartridge.
       I use this stuff to get stickers off my carts.  It is especially useful in 
       getting the residue off after you pull a sticker off your cartridge.  Now, I
       do use this on cart labels, but I try to keep it away from the edges for the
       exact reason I listed above.
       Another notable product is the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  This is the invention
       that was created especially for us, I swear.  With minimal abrasion, you can
       get any and all magic marker or writing off of your carts with these things.
       Now, I must note that I have had some marker that was too old and had sunk in
       pretty good and wouldn’t totally come off.  But, 90% is still better than 
       having that ugly writing on your carts isn’t it?  Try these.  They work.
       Other stuff you might try is Windex or just about any other household cleaner
       you can find.   I use this stuff to get the easy stuff off; like dirt, grime
       and dried food stains.
          (Submitted by DarkBubble)
          a. Sticker Removal
          Anyone who's bought used cartridges has come across unwanted labels or 
          the adhesive left behind by them. Sometimes, the game label itself is 
          practically destroyed or is incorrect (case swaps do happen). Alot of 
          people will suggest Goo-Gone in this instance, but I'll typically go with
          what I have on hand or is more readily available. When it comes to 
          getting rid of adhesive, whether it be on a cartridge or a CD case, I use
          windproof lighter fluid. This is a simple cleaning method, requiring few 
             Windproof Lighter Fluid (Can be found near the auto fuses and tweezers
                at most convenience stores. You don't need to buy a huge bottle, as 
                a little goes a long way.)
             Paper towels or rags
             Q-tips or generic cotton swabs
             Toothpicks (for any trouble spots that swabs or towels won't reach)
          This'll be your standard fare rub-down, but use caution. If you're not
          removing a damaged/incorrect label in preparation for replacement, avoid
          getting close to the label at all costs. Only put the fluid on your towel
          or swab, not directly on the cartridge, and use as little as possible. I
          would also recommend using a clean, dry rag or paper towel to remove any
          excess fluid. Never perform this cleaning method near open flames and 
          dispose of your cleaning materials properly. 
          You can simply wet the swab or towel with fluid and go to work, using 
          enough pressure to take off the gunk as you wipe. It may be necessary to
          scrape a bit with a toothpick or your fingernail, but it shouldn't take 
          much effort. The only time I would recommend actually pouring fluid 
          directly on the cartridge would be if some adhesive had made it's way 
          into a crevice, and only in those crevices that aren't where the front 
          and back of the case meet. In that instance, it's better to dissassemble
          the cart and try using the swab, towel, and toothpick method.
          One user on the forums (unfortunately, I can't remember who)had also 
          suggested that Zippo Fluid is also good for cleaning the contacts of the
          cartridge. I personally have not attempted this and have had no 
          confirmation from anyone other than the original poster, so I cannot 
          recommend this method in good conscience. If you try this and suffer ill
          effects, I will accept no responsibility.
       5. Cleaning the inside of your cartridge:
       Ever wonder how in the world to get your cartridge open?  What on Earth are 
       those screws in there?  Well, they are security bits.  You will have to find
       a hardware store that sells them (or you can buy a set off Ebay for $10).  
       You need the 3.8mm bit to open your cartridge and the 4.5mm opens your 
       console. Just unscrew the the security screws, and carefully open your 
       cartridge. You will see a chip board inside. Pull the chip board out and 
       clean the inside of the cartridge with windex or any other regular household 
       cleaner.  Use the can of air to spray dust the board and replace it.  Screw
       the screws back in and you are done.  Some people like to clean the 
       cartridge contacts this way also. You can get a better grip on them and 
       really see what you are doing.
       6. SNES Controller Pad Basic Maintenance (Submitted by DarkBubble)
       It’s been my experience that the official SNES pad is fairly reliable, 
       assuming you’ve not treated it roughly. Your average platformers and RPG 
       titles shouldn’t put wear on the pad that quickly, but we all know how 
       abusive we get when we’re duking it out in a fighting game, sucking down 
       butter-soaked popcorn and spilling soda between rounds. Needless to say, one
       of these days, you’re going to be playing through Contra 3 and suddenly die 
       because you can’t fire at an angle. Before you go out and buy a replacement,
       realize that you have some options.
       Please be aware that I will accept no responsibility for any damage done to 
       your controllers, system, cartridge, or your person. Out of my own affection
       for the original SNES controller, I developed these basic methods and have 
       seen no ill effects to this day. As with any project using solvents or 
       adhesives, I recommend reading the directions for proper use and safety 
       precautions. If it says that you should only use a project in a ventilated 
       area, I suggest that you work in the garage with the door open or on a 
       porch/patio. Now, on with the show:
         a. Cleaning
         The easiest part of maintenance is simply cleaning out all of the goop 
         that your grubby little hands leave in and on the pad. You’d be amazed 
         what all of that sweat, oil, potato chips, pizza, and skin cells amount 
         to. You’ll need the following:
            Philips head screwdriver (not too small, but not very large)
            Q-Tips or other cotton swab
            Rubbing alcohol
            Toothpick (Anything that needs to be scraped will most likely come off 
               with this, especially when using alcohol. There’s no need to cut 
            Paper towels
         First thing’s first, remove the screws. Make sure you put them where you
         can find them. Pop open the back, and pull up the board, though not 
         completely. Make a mental note of the layout, especially the way the cord
         winds around the posts inside. That acts as strain relief, preventing you 
         from yanking the cord free of the board when you pull it too far. Go ahead
         and pull the board free.
         Wet a swab with enough alcohol to get it wet, but don’t soak it to the 
         point that alcohol will be running all over whatever you are cleaning. 
         You’ll see where the buttons make contact (most likely brown and black, as
         if burnt). Rub those areas with the wet end of the swab with just enough 
         pressure to clean. Rub it again with the dry end. Use one side of the 
         swab’s head for each attempt, so you can tell how much dirt is left. It 
         may not look pretty on the board, but if there’s nothing else coming off 
         onto the swab, you’ve probably gotten all you can. Anything that’s left is
         probably wear. Now, onto the button contacts themselves.
         Pull out the rubber pieces. The gray is just what holds the contact and 
         acts also as a spring to open the circuit when you’re not pushing a 
         button. The contacts themselves are a black, rubbery, conductive material.
         Some may argue that cleaning these pieces with alcohol may not be the 
         best, but working quickly should minimize damage. Again, use the same 
         method that you used to clean the board, but be gentler. The contacts 
         themselves only need a once-over, as they’ll make the swab black no matter
         how much you go across them. It’s the nature of the material, at least 
         from my experience. You’ll definitely notice some wear if you’ve spent 
         much time perfecting your Dragon Punch.
         As for the casing and the buttons, go nuts. The only thing that can be 
         damaged by the alcohol is the rubber Start and Select buttons, but don’t 
         expect much, if any damage. Crevices will be your main concern, primarily 
         around buttonholes and where the two pieces of the case meet. This is 
         where the toothpick comes into play.
         So, now that it’s all nice and clean, slap your buttons back in, as well 
         as the contacts. Remember the cable’s strain relief wrapping? Most likely,
         the kink is permanently in the cable, so the guesswork of how it went in 
         should be gone. Slip the board back in and put the back on. Whether you 
         put none, a few, or all of the screws in before play-testing is up to you.
         There should be a tight enough fit to not need them for testing, if you 
         want to be sure that you were successful before closing it up.
         b. L and R button repair
         One problem I’ve noticed with the design of the standard SNES shoulder 
         buttons is that unlike the simple pushbuttons of the PS1, they are hinged
         on the side closest to the cord. The button has an eyelet that holds a 
         metal bar. Stress from pushing the button down too hard or incorrectly 
         (i.e. closer to the end with the eyelet) will eventually break the button 
         free from the eyelet. This can lead to finger pinching, button presses 
         not registering, and generally not feeling right during gameplay. This is
         a simple fix. You’ll need:
            rubber gloves (Sticking your fingers together is bad enough, repeatedly 
               is worse, but if your skin is really sensitive, prepare for Pain 
               City, population: you. You’ve been warned.)
            Something to set the button on
            Cleaning materials from previous project
            Needlenose pliers
         Basically, just clean the pieces as you did the buttons during cleanup. 
         This way, you’ll achieve a solid bond between the pieces. Now, put some 
         superglue on one piece (preferably the button, not the eyelet). You’ll 
         probably prefer to use the needlenose pliers to hold the eyelet piece, as 
         there’s little to hold onto, and you don’t want to get stuck to it. Stick 
         the two pieces together. You can either hold it until it dries or set it 
         aside in such a way that the glue doesn’t make contact with anything else.
         These are light pieces, so you really don’t have to worry about them 
         working free of each other. Keep in mind that the glue will exit on both 
         sides of the fissure as you squeeze them together. You don’t want a chunk
         of glue keeping the button from going all the way back to neutral (or you
         may. What do I know?), so use to toothpick to remove excess on that side.
         Feel free to add more on the inside for extra support, as long as it 
         doesn’t interfere with normal operation.
         Aside from putting them in place when they’re dry, there’s nothing more 
         to it.
         Cannibalize! Cannibalize!!! CANNIBALIZE!!!
         Contacts dead? Button worn? Need to replace a cord on your favorite 
         controller? If you’ve got a pile of pads or can get used controllers 
         cheap, by all means, use them for parts.
         c. Repairing contacts.
         So, the black contact is worn to nothing, but the rubber has retained it’s
         springiness? You can actually buy the contact material in liquid form from
         electronics supply companies. I haven’t tried this yet, but it stands to 
         reason that with a little patience and ingenuity, you can actually repair 
         the contacts themselves. Whether this would be worth the effort, your 
         guess is as good as mine.
         As for the contacts on the board, there may be a few options, but they may
         be impractical and less cost-effective than just buying a new controller.
       7. SNES Console Cleaning FAQ (Coming Soon!)
    C. Frequently Asked Questions
       Q. Where can I locate those products?
       A. All of the products that I listed (Goo Gone, Rubbing Alcohol, Mr. Clean
          Magic Erasers, Windex, etc.) can all be purchased at any grocery store or
          Walmart.  Pretty much anywhere that cleaning supplies are sold, you 
          should be able to find most, if not, all of them.
       Q. How much should I expect to pay for any of those cleaning products?
       A. All of them are in the $.99 to $3.99 range, so it won't break
          you to keep your games nice and clean.
       Q. Help! My game won't save any longer! Is this the cause?
       A. Surprisingly, this is a common problem with dirty games and systems.  Try
          cleaning everything first and see if that helps.  A lot of times, if your
          game is dirty, the contacts aren't connecting well enough to hold a save.
          I have heard, not confirmed, that a dirty game's saves can be erased with
          a slight bump of the system.  The only time this has ever happened to me
          was with a dirty game, so there may be something to it.  But, batteries
          going dead are the more probable answer to this question.
       Q. What about the console? It's yellow, is there any way to clean that?
       A. This may be one of the most common questions asked anywhere.  Here is the
          deal:  Once your system gets yellow, there is little, if anything, that
          you can do about it.  I know it sucks, but the flaw is in the plastic
          that was used to make the actual system itself.  There are earlier models
          that will not yellow because they are a higher grade plastic, but the
          later models will always yellow eventually.  You can try to clean your 
          system with some rubbing alcohol or 409, but unless the discoloration is
          from the system just being dirty, it just won't help.
       Q. What causes the discoloration, anyway?
       A. There are a lot of reasons for the discoloration of a SNES console.  One,
          and probably the most common, is exposure to sunlight.  The UV rays are
          pretty lethal to the plastic.  Smoking can also cause the same effect.  
          Look what it does to most smokers' teeth.  I know that's a pretty brutal
          reference, but it is the same conceptual idea of what can happen to your
          console.  Another cause is just plain age.  As the plastic gets old, it
          just plain breaks down.  At least these are the reasons that I have 
          always read as so-called "expert's" answers.  Take them for what they 
          are worth, but keep your system out of the sun and clean it, and you 
          will find that your console is less likely to yellow.
    D. Miscellaneous (Thank You’s, Credits, etc.)
    I want to thank GameFAQs for hosting this FAQ.  I know there are those of us 
    that need this sort of thing.  
    Thank you to DarkBubble for his submission and help with the cleaning the SNES
    controller pad section.
    Thank you to all the members of the SNES Geneneral message board for your
    continued help and suggestions.
    I also want to note that this work is mine and you are free to use and host it
    anywhere as long as I am credited for it.  Am I going to hunt you down if you 
    don’t?  No.  But, Karma will get you.  And, besides, it just wouldn’t be cool.
    If you would like me to add anything to this or have any suggestions, please 
    e-mail me at fleck586@yahoo.com.

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