I've got an old Nintendo Game Boy, with a number of games for it. The problem is that most of these games don't load any more, and I suspect that's an issue with the contacts either in the unit, or in the game card.

Looking into the contacts on the game cards, a number of them have metal oxide marking on them, especially where the gold plating has worn away. The contacts on the Game Boy itself aren't faring much better.

Is there anything I can or should do to rejuvenate the contacts so I can use it again?

  • 4
    This feels like a duplicate (really!) of retrocomputing.stackexchange.com/q/2/12 Any Q related to cleaning cart or edge connector contacts resolves to the same general set of techniques.
    – user12
    Apr 20, 2016 at 14:50

2 Answers 2


Depending on how bad the corrosion is, various techniques can work. First, just try plain old water (or better yet, isopropyl alcohol) and a cotton bud - on the cartridges and the Game Boy itself. Failing that, try the same technique with distilled (white) vinegar. If all else fails - very carefully rubbing with a fine-grit sandpaper can help to remove stubborn coatings.

If the contacts aren't the problem, try some basic troubleshooting. Which cartridges don't work? Is it random, or always the same ones? If there's a pattern, then those cartridges are particularly suspect.

  • 4
    Cotton buds and alcohol is the solution that was widely proposed at the time.
    – Sklivvz
    Apr 20, 2016 at 10:26
  • 3
    Oh my. Sandpaper? Please don't do this. There are easy to find chemicals that can safely remove oxides and dirt from electronics. Don't use sandpaper.
    – user12
    Apr 20, 2016 at 15:15
  • 1
    @jdv I absolutely agree with you, and I wouldn't recommend it except that it works so well as to be worth the risk, if only as a last resort.
    – felixphew
    Apr 20, 2016 at 21:47

At least on old computer cards (you know, that go into slots, with edges basically the same as cartridges for classic game systems), I always used a standard pencil eraser to gently clean the contacts. A few gentle scrubs with a pencil's built-in eraser (gives you lots of control), done while being careful to keep the debris from falling down into the cartridge, may be enough to do the job.

Just don't do it too often; it can eventually wear away the gold and damage the connector. But if you only do it once in a very long while, it should be fine.

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