The fastest way to fix Joy-Con stick drift: a toothpick and switch cleaner

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With many people experiencing the Nintendo Switch for the first time this holiday season, the dreaded Joy-Con stick problem is still around almost four years since the launch of the console.

For those who have experienced it, this problem needs no introduction, but for those curious here’s a summary. The joystick / analogue stick / whatever you call it on the Nintendo Switch is prone to becoming dirty or damaged leading to it registering inputs when the player isn’t using it, or registering incorrect inputs when in use.

This problem is so widespread that Nintendo is being hit with multiple class action lawsuits around the world. We’ve experienced this problem personally on six different sets of Joy-Cons – three that we’ve personally bought and owned, and three from friends and family.

This problems happens mostly to the detachable Joy-Cons on the original Switch, specifically to the left stick. We have seen it affect the right stick as well as the permanent controls of the Nintendo Switch Lite.

Thankfully much of the time the drift problem is caused by dirt getting into the stick. This can be cleaned out quickly with a toothpick and switch cleaner.

“Switch cleaner” isn’t a special product made to clean the Nintendo Switch, but a generic term for aerosol lubricants made to clean the contacts on electrical switches and relays.

These can be bought from just about every hardware store and there’s countless brands and versions out there. As long as it’s made to be used on electronics without harming them, you’re good.

If you’re buying a can make sure to get one that has a detachable nozzle – a thin plastic tube that attaches to the regular nozzle, allowing it to spray into cramped areas.

Have two people to do the process below is ideal, but you can get by with one person.

  • Push the joystick all the way to one side to expose the area under the thumbpad
  • You will see a soft rubber shroud partly covering the hard plastic housing of the stick
  • Using the toothpick gently lift this sheath until you see some of the inner white plastic of the mechanism
  • Spray the switch cleaner into this mechanism
  • Move the joystick around in circles to spread the cleaner around
  • Read the label on your switch cleaner can and follows its instructions for required wait time after use
  • If stick drift or other problems persist try this process one or two more times

If, after following the above steps, the drift still continues, then your stick is suffering from other problems aside from the accumulation of dirt. Poor design which allows dirt to build up as well as outright mechanical failure plague the Joy-Cons. See why they’re being sued?

As you may have guessed this may be required to be repeated every few months as new dirt comes in and stick drift begins anew.

Finally we have to cover our butts here and say that you’re doing this at completely your own risk and we’re not liable if anything should go wrong. If your Switch and / or Joy-Cons are still under warranty we always recommend speaking to whoever sold you the product first before doing any “repairs” yourself.

Clinton Matos

Clinton Matos

Clinton has been a programmer, engineering student, project manager, asset controller and even a farrier. Now he handles the maker side of