How to Clean the Xbox Series X or S Controller

Look at your Xbox Series X or S controller.

If you have had the controller for a while and don’t regularly clean it, it most likely has slick layer of grime covering it. 

Sweaty palms, food crumbs, pet hair, dust, and dirt can make keeping your Xbox Series X or S controller clean a chore.

Because of all the dirt, sweat, dust, and who knows what else can build up on your controller, Microsoft recommends that you clean the gamepad at least every three to six months or whenever needed.

I clean my Xbox Series X controller every month to keep it looking brand new.

How do you clean the Xbox Series X or S controller? The Xbox Series X and S use the same type of controller. To clean this controller, you’ll need toothpicks, a microfibre cloth, canned compressed air, and 70% Isopropyl alcohol. You’ll use these items to scrape, wipe and blow dirt off your Xbox Series X or S controller.

If you have the cleaning items mentioned above ready, let’s get cleaning!

A detailed guide on how to clean your Xbox Series X or S controller

Before you start cleaning your Xbox Series X or S controller, power it off and remove its batteries, then follow these steps.

What you’ll need before you start:

The Cleaning Method

1: Take the compressed air can and use it to blow away dust and any loose or large bits of dirt on your Xbox Series X or S controller’s surface.

2: Dampen your microfiber cloth with 70% or less Isopropyl alcohol, then use the cloth to rub over your Xbox controller. Because you got rid of dust and large bits of dirt with the can of compressed air, less junk will stick on your microfiber cloth, and it will be more effective at cleaning your controller.

While wiping the controller with the microfiber cloth give attention to the thumbstick’s undersides and inner space between buttons. A lot of dirt collects in these areas. When done, don’t wipe the Xbox controller with a towel or tissues as this will leave lint. Isopropyl alcohol doesn’t take long to dry, so let the gamepad dry naturally.  

3: With the surface of your Xbox Series X or S controller cleaned, you can now move to the gamepad’s crevices. To clean the crevices take a toothpick and gently scrape any residue that is in there. Use the toothpick to also clean the textured ring on the Xbox controller thumbsticks and edges of the d-pad. Oil from your hands often hides here. 

4: Blow compressed air on the Xbox Series X or S controller one more time to remove any dirt loosened by the toothpick. You can wipe down the controller again with the microfiber cloth if you like, just to make sure the Xbox controller is totally clean.

How to clean the headphone jack and ports on your Xbox Series X or S controller

At times it may be necessary to do a more advanced cleaning of your Xbox Series X or S controller.

For example, I had to clean the USB-C power port on my Xbox Series X controller because dirt had collected inside the port, and it was affecting how the controller charged.

If you choose to clean the headphone jack, USB-C, and expansion port on the Xbox Series S or X controller do so with a lot of caution.

There are electrical components in these parts which could be damaged if you don’t exercise caution.

You don’t need any additional items to clean these ports of your Xbox Series X or S controller.

  • Cleaning your Xbox Series X or S USB-C and Expansion ports

To clean these ports you’ll need toothpicks and a can of compressed air.

With these items at hand:

1: Hold your controller in a way that lets you see inside the USB-C port. You can use your phone’s flashlight to get a really good look inside. If you can see any large chunks of dirt use a toothpick to chuck them out.

2: Place the straw nozzle of your can of compressed air at a 45-degree angle next to the Xbox controller USB-C port. Don’t put it inside the port.

3: Do 2-3 blasts of air into the port in 1-2 second intervals. Ensure the compressed air can stays straight when blowing air to avoid it leaking liquid into the USB-C port. Check to see if the debris inside the port has been removed.

4: If you can still see dirt in the Xbox controller USB-C port, use a toothpick to scoop what is left inside. Gently do this so that you don’t damage the electrical parts inside. Once you’re done, blow compressed air to eject any debris loosened by the toothpick.

Repeat this process until you’re satisfied that you have thoroughly cleaned the USB-C port on your Xbox Series X or S controller.

Follow the same process to clean your Xbox controller’s expansion port.

  • Clean your Xbox Series X or S controller headphone jack correctly

Again you’ll need a can of compressed air and toothpicks.

1: Place the can at a 45 degrees angle then blow air into the Xbox controller headphone jack. Three blasts are enough. If your controller’s headphone jack didn’t have lots of dirt this should make it clean.

2: If you need to do more cleaning, use a toothpick to do the job. Insert the toothpick inside the Xbox’s controller headphone jack and move it around to remove as much grime despite the limited space. 

3: Blow compressed air again into the Xbox Series X or S controller headphone jack to get out debris that has been loosened by the toothpick. 

Repeat this process until your Xbox Series X or S controller headphone jack is free of dirt.

How to keep your Xbox Series X or S controller clean in the future

Here are some tips to help you keep your Xbox controller from being filthy.

  • Clean your hands before you touch your controller. This will limit the amount of dirt and bacteria that get on your Xbox Series X or S controller.
  • I recommend that you wipe down your Xbox Series X or S controller after a gaming session. Having a set of wipes in your gaming room will make this easier to do. If that sounds like a full-time job, try scrubbing your controller at least once a month to keep it in good shape.
  • To protect your Xbox controller from dust, sweat, and even scratches consider buying a cover for it. I use the Jusy Xbox Series X/S Controller Soft Silicone Cover, with my Xbox Series X controller. This cover is water, dust, and drop-proof. It also has an anti-slip for better grip even with sweaty palms.
  • To keep your controller’s headphone jack and USB-C port clean, I recommend you get these Port Plugs from Amazon. The port plugs come in a set of 25, so you cannot only use them to protect the ports of your Xbox Series X or S controller but also the ports of your mobile phone or tablet. The plugs also come with a free cleaning brush. Before you plug a USB or headphones cable into your Xbox Series X controller ensure it is clean, otherwise it will be a waste protecting your ports with plugs.
  • Try to avoid eating or drinking when you have the Xbox controller to minimize the chances of food getting stuck or liquid pouring on the controller.
  • Lastly, when not using your Xbox Series X or S controller, store it in properly. Don’t leave it on the floor, for example, where your dog can come and mess around with it. If you can afford it, I recommend you buy an Xbox Series X/S controller storage case for the safe storing of your controller.

Nick Sinclair

Nick Sinclair, a gaming aficionado since the Commodore 64 era, studied Creative Computer Games Design in university before founding his own gaming company. Discovering a passion for content creation, Nick now helps gamers squeeze every drop of fun out of their favorite gaming hardware

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