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Console and controller care

A miniature scrwedriver bit set for electronics and various pry tools
This $25 kit is one of my most useful possessions

One part of sustainability is maintenance and care for possessions so that they don't need to be replaced. I'm an adult gamer, but a lot of households leave gaming to the youngsters and that might mean the primary payers are missing out on how dirty their electronics are. A lot of us eat while gaming, right? Even if you're clever like me and use chopsticks for chips and other finger foods in the middle of your session, your controllers and console are going to get funky.

Grotey controller! (Does anyone say that word anymore?)

The problem with modern controllers is that small particles can get into the analog stick rims and cause stick drift [video below] pretty easily. Those bits of sand, dirt, eyelashes, and food can even get pushed into those spaces when you're wiping the controller with disinfectant wipes. These controllers are anywhere from $20 knockoffs that you foist your younger sibling to use, to $200 'pro' controllers that you'd totally save first in a house fire. However, with a set of small tools, some cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol, you can keep your controllers clean and extend their life. SKTL has an iFixit kit (very much like the one in the first photo) to loan you too!

Your desktops, laptops and consoles are another thing to worry about. They're really good at masking their cries for help, so you might not notice that the fan is engaging more often and the applications are taking longer to load over time. Sometimes that's because dust has caked on the fan, which now has to work harder to ventilate. Thankfully, accessing the fan doesn't require a total teardown of the device, and is usually accessed after removing a few screws and panels. Below is my friend's absolutely gnarly 7-year-old Playstation 4, which requires removing a dozen screws to give a proper cleaning. Ifixit wrote a smarmy teardown guide here.

A Playstation 5 without its side panels, with a massive fan exposed
This PS5 fan is accessible from both sides of the system after sliding off screwless panels.

Maybe you enclosed your super-hot device in a cabinet for aesthetics. Well, if you're not going to let that baby breathe, you might need to clean out the dust more often. Consoles are usually a little harder to open because manufacturers include ridiculous things like Torx security screws. The PS4 above has 6 to remove, in addition to little Philips screws, to access the fan and other parts you'll want to clean. Using screws that require special equipment harms the consumer, as it means Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo can charge borderline psychotic fees of $80-100 to clean your system, when the only barrier is dexterity and a funky screw bit. So far, only Sony has designed the Playstation 5 with an easy, screwless way to remove panels to clean the device. The picture is right there! -->

What I'm saying here is to protect your investment by cleaning consoles, controllers and computers often. Again, SKTL has a set available for checkout, though if you have a lot of devices, it might be worth buying your own small electronics tool set and mechanical air blower. The only other advice if you're new to cleaning electronics is to wet the swab with alcohol, don't spray it on the electronics! You might have to take your game systems apart once or twice a year, but you won't need to replace them as frequently. Not replacing them as often keeps money in your pocket and e-waste out of the recycle/disposal system. It's a win-win.


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