I recently picked up an OG Xbox Controller in the charity shop (third party controller) for a very small amount. I decided to put together this simple tutorial / guide for how to take apart the controller to clean it up and give it a new lease of life.
What you’ll need:
- OG Xbox Controller – although this process is almost the same for any controller teardown.
- Screwdriver set or a screwdriver that fits the screws – if you are dealing with a different type of controller the type of screw may be different.
- Isopropyl alcohol to clean the circuit boards and other components.
- Warm soapy water to clean up the plastic cover and buttons.
- Toothbrush for cleaning the plastic controller pieces.
- Microfiber cloths
- Mr sheen to polish the controller
Lets get started
If you are new to taking things apart and are a bit concerned here, I would recommend taking plenty of photos of the controller as you go so you can refer back to later.
Also, keeping track of all the different small components like screws can be tricky. It may be useful to use something like an egg box or a paint palette (can be found in most pound shops – see image below) to store the different types of screws.
To begin, assemble what you will need and start to take out the screws along the back of the controller. The screw locations for this controller are labelled below, but if you are dealing with a different type of controller this may be different.
If you feel like this might get messy and there is a lot of gunk and dirt, lie the controller on a towel or microfiber cloth to catch the dirt.
Once you have removed all of the screws, carefully pry away the back case and set it aside to be cleaned in a bit.
Next, remove the board from the front cover carefully, ensuring there are no screws to unscrew first.
Take out all of the buttons. Remove the contact pads from the buttons and set those aside. Place the buttons next to the plastic cover pieces to be cleaned. To remove the d-pad just unscrew the two screws and pull it apart.
With all of the plastic pieces ready to wash, drop them in some warm soapy water and leave to soak for 5 mins.
After the pieces have had a good soak, start scrubbing away any persistent dirt with a toothbrush.
Once you are happy that all of the pieces are clean, set them aside to completely dry before re-assembling the controller.
With the mother board, if you don’t want to remove the thumb grips, give them a clean with a microfiber cloth and even a dry toothbrush.
If you want to get any dirt or corrosion off the mother board, simply dab some Isopropyl onto a cue tip and rub over the affected area, leaving to dry.
While you are waiting for everything to dry, wipe down the cable with an antibacterial wipe or similar. After all, I did find this controller in the charity shop so I have no idea how it was treated!
Once all of your pieces are nice and dry its time to start reassembling the controller. Take your time with this process and make sure you work in the opposite order that you took the controller apart in. If you get stuck and can’t remember what to do next, refer back to your photos to help you.
When all is completed I usually run a microfiber cloth with a small amount of Mr sheen on it over the controller to give an added polish. Then your controller will look like new!
The last step involves plugging your controller into your console to test it out and make sure it still works. Unfortunately for me, I do not yet own an original Xbox so I can’t really test this controller out yet.
Overall the process of tearing down and cleaning controllers will become second nature to you with practice. The key is usually a lot of patience, organisation and something to refer back to like a photo or a video. Once you have mastered this skill you will be able to pick up a bargain in your local charity shop or thrift store and make it look like new!
I hope that you enjoyed reading this tutorial and I hope this helped you out if you are considering taking apart your old controllers. If you have any comments or questions for me, please leave me a comment below. I would love to hear your feedback.