Keeping your Switch Joy-Con germ-free with alcohol? Nintendo doesn’t approve

Nintendo Switch Lite

In a world currently ruled by fear of the coronavirus, the most constantly-touted advice these days is to keep yourself and your surroundings clean. One product that’s used to do that extensively is rubbing alcohol. Like bleach, it’s a germ-zapper. While it’s typically used on skin, people also do use it to wipe down surfaces and also electronics. Thus, people have been doing just so with their Switch Joy-Con and other controllers. But, Nintendo has now chimed in to say that it doesn’t actually recommend this method for de-germing your system’s peripherals.

Nintendo of Japan has been getting inquiries by customers as to whether or not it’s okay to use alcohol to clean the Switch’s controllers. Via a tweet, the company responded to the inquiries saying that using alcohol could cause the paint of the Joy-Con to fade and can also apparently cause the plastic to “deform”.

Kotaku was able to fully translate Nintendo’s response, which says:

“We’re very sorry to say please avoid using alcohol as it may cause the plastic parts to fade in color or deform. We also cannot recommend using non-alcoholic disinfecting sheets, as depending on the ingredients, they may damage the plastic parts.”

So, if using disinfectant isn’t good, then what does Nintendo recommend instead? According to Kotaku’s translation, Nintendo simply states that a “dry cloth” is best to clean off the Switch’s Joy-Con.

Can I use some Joy soap on my Joy-Con?



I honestly don’t know what to say here. On one hand, this is the manufacturer’s advice. One would expect Nintendo to know how its own product would respond to different substances/chemicals. But, in a world that seems to be more health-conscious than ever, it’s hard to really stand behind this statement.

Simply just using a dry cloth is not going to disinfect any surface, Joy-Con included. All it will really do is just smear and spread around the little microbial bacteria that’s on it. Thus, disinfectants are a must, especially for a surface like a game controller that is constantly being touched.

Personally, I use alcohol/sanitizer to wipe down my Switch and other electronics from time-to-time. So far, I have yet to see any adverse effects at all—and I’ve been doing this for years. Thus, I really don’t understand why Nintendo advises against it.

The note about potential color-fading could be somewhat plausible, but if you’re really that concerned about it, you can simply apply a skin to the controller or a protective shell. Thus, I would say, for the sake of safety, disinfect your Switch the same way you would with any other electronic device. After all, the alcohol, sanitizer and cleaning wipes surely won’t short-circuit your equipment (unless you overdo it).


A.K Rahming
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.