|If you're cleaning your NES cartridges, you can go |
ahead and ignore all of these warnings.
Luckily, the Internet is full of techniques for cleaning game cartridges. So in the name of science, and as an investment in future laziness, I decided to take three of the most popular methods--rubbing alcohol, pencil erasers, and metal polish--and put them to the test against three of the dirtiest, nastiest games from my collection. Here are the results:
3rd Place: Pencil Eraser
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game
Blinking gray screen
Initially, I was pretty skeptical when I read that people were using pencil erasers to clean their cartridges, but I guess it makes sense. After all, a rubber eraser should be gentle enough to wipe away gunk and corrosion without taking the delicate copper connectors with it.
|This cart already had plenty of problems, then I added|
hundeds of tiny bits of pencil eraser.
I can buy the tool here (but I'm too cheap and impatient), or just jam the eraser into the slot in the cartridge and hope for the best. Neither seems like a great option.
In the end, I succeeded only in adding a load of pink eraser shrapnel to the myriad problems this cartridge has. No apparent change in corrosion.
While I managed to get the game fired up after three attempts, I'm going to go ahead and call this test "inconclusive" until I'm able to take apart the cartridge and do a better job.
|This is the cleanin' kind, not the drinkin' kind.|
I can't even begin to count the number of times I've been told to never, ever clean a game cartridge with rubbing alcohol. In fact, "Don't clean with alcohol, stupid" is printed inside of every NES game manual. However, when the owner of a local game store told me that this is how he maintains his Neo Geo collection (!), I decided it was good enough for my NES carts. After all, alcohol evaporates almost instantly, which is certainly better than most other cleaning solutions (especially anything water based).
|This cart looks okay in the picture, but think someone|
(unsuccessfully) tried to take it apart.
Initially, the rubbing alcohol removed a slight amount of corrosion from the connectors, but continued effort yielded little improvement. The game operated normally after two attempts
|Add some bling to Jimmy and Bimmy.|
(Tweet me if you get that reference. )
Whether you're talking about paint, metal, plastic, or whatever, polishing works the same way: you're using a mild abrasive to clear away tiny scratches and imperfections on the surface, leaving behind a smooth and shiny finish. I read reports that brass polish and cooktop cleaner work well on NES cartridges, however, I had a bottle of Mothers chrome polish in the garage, so that's what I used.
Again, I was skeptical at the idea of polishing clean the connectors on an NES cart. After all, with just a cotton swab, how will I get the leverage necessary to help the abrasive in the polish do its job?
|Ugh. Now that's a result.|
It was almost hard to believe the amount of crap that the polish cleaned out of the cartridge. In fact, it was pretty disgusting.
So go forth and polish those slots!