how to clean an n64 cartridge

N64 Cartridge Cleaning: Revive Retro Relics!

Last Updated on July 31, 2023

Cleaning an N64 cartridge is a great way to keep your favorite games in pristine condition. It’s also a great way to make sure that your gaming experience runs smoothly and without any hiccups. In this article, I’ll walk you through the process of disassembly, cleaning techniques, polishing (optional), protective tips, ultrasonic cleaner use, stickers removal, and reassembly so that you can get your N64 cartridge looking like new again!

Tools and Gear

Get all the gear you need to make your beloved N64 game look as good as new! To clean the cartridge, you’ll need a few tools such as an alcohol-based cleaner like isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs, metal polish and electronic dust remover. You may also need a Phillips head screwdriver and pencil eraser for loosening any screws or removing stickers from the cartridge. With all of these tools ready, you can begin the process of cleaning your N64 cartridge.

Using an N64 cartridge

Start by inspecting the circuit boards for damage or corrosion. If there is any noticeable damage then it’s best to replace the cartridge with a working one instead of trying to fix it yourself. Otherwise, if everything looks okay then use a rectangular motion to rub down both sides of the metal contacts on each side of your cartridge with rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs. Be sure not to miss any spots otherwise dirt can build up over time again. When done cleaning off all surface areas allow for adequate drying time before reassembling back together using a towel or cloth in between steps so that no dirt gets into its inner components during assembly.

Once all parts are together again, use a cotton swab lightly dampened with rubbing alcohol and gently run it along each metal contact inside the game card slot until it is completely free from dirt buildup or debris. Use an eraser on any labels that have been damaged due to age and finish up by tightening all screws with a Phillips head screwdriver and affixing any missing labels or cards onto their designated slots before play testing your newly cleaned N64 game! Before jumping into disassembly, make sure that everything is in proper working order first.


You’ll need to disassemble the cartridge in order to properly care for it – did you know that only about 1/3 of all N64 games are still playable today? To do this, there are a few things you’ll need:

  1. A Phillips head screwdriver.
  2. A cotton swap or two.
  3. A dust brush (an old toothbrush will work just as well).

Once you have these items handy, the first step is to remove the six screws on the back of the cartridge and then take off its metal shielding; this will expose its copper contacts and the insertion gap between them and the cartridge slot. Then, use your cotton swaps to clean any dust or dirt from these surfaces very carefully—you don’t want anything getting stuck inside!

After that, use your dust brush to get into those hard-to-reach places around the metal shielding and also wipe down other surfaces of the cartridge with a couple more cotton swaps for a deep cleaning. Finally, remember not to insert or remove cartridges too often as this can wear down both their surfaces over time and affect their performance.

Cleaning Techniques

Keeping your cartridge in top condition requires a few simple cleaning techniques, so don’t forget to give it the attention it deserves! To begin the process you’ll need to remove any debris from the outside of the cartridge. Use a damp cloth or paper towel with some water and gently wipe down the cartridges surface. Be sure not to submerge or use too much moisture as this can damage both its exterior and interior components.

Once you’ve removed any visible dirt and grime, you’ll want to clean deeper within your cartridge. Using a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol is one of the most effective cleaning methods available. Dip the swab into some rubbing alcohol then wipe down any exposed contacts located on both sides of your cartridge. Do not saturate in liquid as this can lead to corrosion and permanent damage.

After completing these steps, your N64 Cartridge should be fully cleaned! While there are more advanced cleaning processes available for those who wish to take extra care of their system, following these basic steps will ensure that it remains free from dirt and dust buildup while keeping its functionality intact for years to come. With that said, now may be a good time for polishing (optional) if desired!

Polishing (Optional)

Giving your cartridge a good polish can make it shine like new, just like a diamond in the sun! There are several ways to do this:

  1. Use an old toothbrush and some rubbing alcohol to scrub off any remaining dirt or dust.
  2. Use a microfiber cloth with light strokes to finish off the cleaning process.
  3. For tougher stains, use a soft-bristled brush with some mild cleaner or soap solution.

Polishing your N64 cartridge is not required but may help keep it looking its best over time. Depending on how much wear and tear it has received, you may find that polishing helps bring back its luster and original coloration more effectively than basic cleaning alone. Now that you have finished giving your cartridge a thorough clean, let’s move on to protective tips for keeping it looking great for years to come!

Protective Tips

Protecting your N64 cartridge is just as important as cleaning it – let’s take a look at some tips to keep it looking its best! First, always make sure the cartridge is stored in a cool and dry area. Over time, heat and humidity can cause corrosion on the pins of the cartridges which will affect their performance. Second, avoid touching the exposed pins when handling the cartridge. Oils from your skin can get on them and cause them to corrode faster.

Finally, if you want to be extra safe, consider buying an N64 cartridge case or sleeve for storage that will protect it from dust and scratches. This way you can keep your cartridge looking great for years to come! Ensuring proper protection of your N64 cartridge is essential – but sometimes even that isn’t enough. If this is the case, then an ultrasonic cleaner might be necessary for a more thorough cleanse.

Ultrasonic Cleaner

An ultrasonic cleaner is a powerful tool that can significantly improve the performance of your N64 cartridge, reducing wear and tear from long-term use by up to 90%. There are three main advantages to using an ultrasonic cleaner when cleaning your N64 cartridge:

  • It can thoroughly clean away stubborn dirt and grime without damaging the delicate contacts within the cartridge.
    • This includes dust, sediment, and debris that has settled on the pins or surface of the cartridge.
    • An ultrasonic cleaner produces high-frequency sound waves that generate tiny bubbles which penetrate deep into small crevices and remove any buildup.
  • It can quickly sanitize your N64 cartridges in minutes with minimal effort.
  • As opposed to manual scrubbing or swabbing, an ultrasonic cleaner uses vibrations to agitate particles off the surface of a device without having to physically come into contact with it.
  • This means you don’t have to worry about damaging delicate parts by accident while trying to get rid of dirt and grime.
  • It can also be used for other gaming consoles like Playstation 1 or Sega Saturn.
  • Ultrasonic cleaners are designed for use with various types of electronics and gaming accessories so you don’t have to buy multiple machines if you own different consoles.
  • Not only will this save you money but it will also save time as well because you won’t have to go through all the tedious steps required for each individual console type when cleaning them.

Using an ultrasonic cleaner is a great way to keep your N64 cartridges in top condition while ensuring their longevity over time. Plus, they are easy enough for anyone who wants a quick cleaning job done right without any hassle or fuss involved–allowing users more time for gameplay instead! With this knowledge in mind, it’s time now move on from protctive tips towards stickers removal techniques next…

Stickers Removal

You can easily remove stickers from your N64 cartridges with a few simple steps. First, you need to identify the type of adhesive used on the sticker. If it’s a removable label-type adhesive, you can use an X-ACTO knife or other sharp object to loosen and pry off the sticker. Be careful not to damage the cartridge as you work. For tougher adhesives, use rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab to soften and remove the residue left behind by the sticker.

Make sure to clean and dry any areas that were affected by rubbing alcohol before reassembling your cartridge. With these tips in mind, you should have no trouble removing any unwanted stickers from your precious N64 cartridges. Transitioning into reassembly is just as important as removal; be sure to take extra caution when putting everything back together again!


Carefully connecting components correctly is crucial for cartridge reassembly. It is important to make sure all pieces fit together in the right way, and that all wires are inserted into their designated ports. Otherwise, the game might not run properly or at all. If a wire does not seem to fit into the port, take care not to force it in; instead check if you have the correct wire for each port.

When putting the screws back on, ensure that they are tightly secured but not overtightened. One good way to achieve this is by using something like a screwdriver attachment with several different heads just in case you don’t remember which head was used originally. Overtightening can cause damage and lead to an even bigger repair job down the line.

Finally, once everything has been put back together double-check that no parts were forgotten or overlooked before powering up your console again. Thoroughness here will help prevent any future issues arising from improperly fitted components or loose connections inside the cartridge.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of damage is most common to an N64 cartridge?

The most common type of damage to an N64 cartridge is dirt buildup. Over time, dust and debris can accumulate on the contacts, blocking them from making a proper connection with the console. This can cause issues such as game freezing or errors when starting up a game. Additionally, dirt and grime can also accumulate on the outside of the cartridge, resulting in discoloration or even corrosion which may prevent it from working properly.

What is the best way to store an N64 cartridge?

I’ll never forget the first time I held an N64 cartridge in my hands; it was a beautiful relic of a bygone era. As far as storage goes, the best way to keep your N64 game collection in tip-top shape is to store them safely away in individual cases or boxes. This will help protect them from dust and dirt buildup, as well as any potential damage due to moisture or heat. You can also take extra precautions by using desiccants and silica gel packets inside the cases to absorb any moisture that might accumulate over time. With these steps, you can rest assured knowing that your precious games are stored safely for years to come!

Is it safe to use a hairdryer to dry an N64 cartridge?

Using a hairdryer to dry an N64 cartridge is not safe. This is because the heat of the hairdryer can damage both the housing and components of the cartridge, leading to further issues such as reduced performance or complete failure. It’s best to let your cartridges air-dry instead of risking any kind of damage with a hairdryer.


I’ve now finished cleaning my N64 cartridge. It looks as good as new – like the day I purchased it. The vibrant colors of the game jump out at me, ready to be enjoyed once more. I’m filled with a sense of joy and accomplishment knowing that I was able to revive this nostalgic piece of gaming history.

It’s an incredibly satisfying feeling, all thanks to taking the time to properly clean my cartridge and give it some much needed love. Now that it’s back in pristine condition, I can enjoy playing again without worrying about any possible damage or malfunctioning due to dirt and dust buildup.

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