How to Fix Nintendo Joy-Con Controller Drift

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/50 sec, ISO6400
“QD Electronic Cleaner” Cedar Park, 2020

I’ve been enjoying Animal Crossing New Horizons for the past month, but our Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controller drift problem has been making it frustrating. What is “drift”? Well, it’s when when the control stick is not being touched, but it registers as being pushed slightly in one direction. In Animal Crossing, this means that your villager will start walking slowly even though you aren’t touching the Joy-Con controller analog stick.

I did a little bit of research on how to fix Joy-Con drift and decided to try cleaning the controller stick. One method involves using a Q-Tip and rubbing alcohol to clean the mechanism, however we don’t have either of these items in the house at the moment. (We used our alcohol to make sanitizing spray because of COVID-19) But I remembered that I have a can of CRC QD Electronic Cleaner, which is an alcohol-based electrical contact cleaner. I originally bought it to clean the dials of my electric guitars and get rid of that scratchy static sound that happens when adjusting the volume or tone dials.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.5, 1/125 sec, ISO1000
“Cleaning Joy-Con” Cedar Park, 2020

The process I used to clean my Nintendo Joy-Con controller was to use a toothpick to gently pry up the rubber covering underneath the analog control stick, then spray the CRC QD Electric Cleaner into the exposed area. I then moved the control stick in all directions for a minute or so, and could immediately feel it move more freely. After waiting a couple of minutes, I repeated the process just to make sure it got thorough cleaning, then waited about 10 minutes before testing it with the game.

Happily, the Joy-Con controller drift problem was fixed! My Animal Crossing villager would remain in one spot when I didn’t touch the control stick, with no drifting at all. Also, the directional input was more precise and seemed to return to center quicker. This precision makes it so much easier (and less frustrating) to play the game, especially when terra-forming. And now that the right-controller’s stick is no longer drifting, the interior view when inside a house no longer pans by itself. Yay!

The Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controller is not an inexpensive piece of hardware, so before you go out and buy a replacement, give this a try, either with the rubbing alcohol, or the CRC QD Electronic Cleaner. But, I’d recommend picking up a can of the cleaner – it’s inexpensive and very handy!

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