First, a mild defense. When an article cites a study that your desk harbors 400 times the number of bacteria as a toilet seat, it’s fair to say that, whilst true, it’s more than a little misleading. Namely, the proportion of those bacteria that are harmful would make for a disappointing headline.
Not only are you surrounded and covered by what are mainly an indisputable force of good in nature (and to you), but, as a ‘superorganism,’ the ratio between your own cells and microbes is one-to-one.
As we know, however, not all bacteria and viruses are so benign. Considering gaming peripherals likely only come second to our phones in contact time and are often paired by many with the consumption of food, exercising caution seems advisable.
Cleaning always attracts various schools of thought, but if cleanliness is next to godliness, then these were the godliest tips we found to tackle every component of your gaming life.
As these are electronics we’re dealing with, ensure all devices are powered down with cables/batteries removed, lest you run the risk of a shock.
Also, avoid getting any liquid in ports or otherwise within devices, assuming you want your devices to continue working after their ablutions. To best achieve this, you will want to avoid direct spraying onto your gadgets and oversaturating cloths.
Be sure to spray any solution onto a microfiber cloth and potentially wring cloths out sufficiently before use on your devices. A disinfectant wipe or 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe should be ready to use.
In the debate between disinfectant wipes and cleaners (including rubbing alcohol) vs. the more environmentally conscious option of microfiber cloths plus water – whilst the latter are effective against bacteria, most don’t have fine enough fibers to pick up viruses. Even those that claim effectiveness against viruses will only be capable of picking up those sufficiently large.
Given that there are negative health effects associated with consistent use of antibiotic soaps and disinfectants, you may want to weigh up those health concerns against the risk posed by viruses at the time.
Not all disinfectant wipes and cleaners are equal either, so it’s worth visiting the EPA website to search for a product’s effectiveness against different bacteria and viruses. This should also inform you of the length of time you need to leave your device wet for the product to act, although the best course of action is to let your device dry on its own. You could use a microfiber cloth around your device afterwards for good measure.
If you want to avoid commercial disinfecting products, simple household soap and water on a microfiber cloth is surprisingly effective at suspending and removing both bacteria and viruses. You might just want to be extra careful that you’re not overly wetting your cloth and getting water down any gaps. Another solution is using undiluted hydrogen peroxide in place of a cleaning solution.
Additionally, if you have the money to throw at it and you purchase one sufficiently big, you could use a UV-C disinfection device for all your devices. For many that might be overkill.
There are two levels of rigorousness when it comes to gamepads. For the purposes of antimicrobial cleaning you can clean the surface, but in terms of maintaining a controller’s good operational order, there’s also the option of carefully opening up and cleaning inside.
Doing the latter will void your warranty and should probably be left for when you’re out of warranty and experiencing an issue (e.g. sticky buttons). It’s worth taking into consideration that whilst the PS4 DualShock and Nintendo Switch Joycons and Pro controller enjoy year-long warranties, Xbox One accessories’ lasts for only 90 days. The most common ‘drift’ issue for Joycon joysticks can also be fixed out of warranty, which seems like a good argument to avoid a do-it-yourself approach unless you’re brimming with confidence.
Cleaning the surface of any gamepad and under the joysticks with your preferred cleaning solution is straightforward.
You can rip off part of a wipe/cloth and use a Q-tip to more easily get underneath a joystick. If you’re using a disinfectant, you’ll want to leave it wet for the product’s specified time. Avoid overly wetting so that solution doesn’t get down the gaps of buttons, joysticks and triggers.