SNES General Cleaning/Care Guide v1.2 By: Jason Fleck GameFAQs - Fleck April 2005 --------Contents-------- 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 email@example.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) Goo-Gone Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Windex (or any other household cleaner) Q-tips 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: http://www.world-of-nintendo.com/manuals/super_nes/super_nes_cleaning_kit.shtml 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 items: 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 yourself.) 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: Superglue 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.