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How to fix Joy-Con drift on the Nintendo Switch

joy con drift fix
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Nobody wants to deal with it, but unfortunately the Joy-Con drift problem is a real issue that can affect a number of Nintendo Switch players. If you're looking for a Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift fix, there's no guaranteed method but we've got a number of potential solutions right here. The Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift problem can cause characters to walk around all by themselves which becomes rather annoying in most games, so read on for some of the best Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift fixes.

While the obvious solution is to buy some new Joy-Cons, that's expensive and there are a couple of things you can try before resorting to anything quite so drastic. With that in mind lets look at a few options you can try for a Joy-Con drift fix.

1. Update and recalibrate your Joy-Con in System Settings 

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Heading into the settings to update and recalibrate your Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons should be your first port of call if you're experiencing Joy-Con drift. It's the simplest, least invasive option so it's always best to start here before you consider anything else. 

Here's how to do it: 

  1. Head into Systems Settings and click on Controllers and Sensors.
  2. Chose Update Controllers and hit A to start. 
  3. Once that's done head down the menu for the Calibrate Control Sticks option.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

With the controllers up to date you're ready to start calibrating which is the option underneath Updating. It'll let you click to choose a stick, and then see the input the Switch is receiving from it. 

(Image credit: Nintendo)

If something does look off then you can pick the calibrate option. This will ask you to move the stick in certain directions on cue and rotate it, to try and re-centre it. Hopefully ironing out any kinks it might have developed. 

(Image credit: Nintendo)

If this recalibration routine doesn't fix things then there are other things you can do but they enter into warranty invalidating territory, and can cost some money. So anything other than this is at your own risk. 

Used switch and contact cleaner to clean out your Joy-Cons

 Joy-Cons switch and contact cleaner

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Just to reiterate - one you start pulling apart bits of your Switch you there's a chance you could cause damage or makes things worse so your doing this at your own risk. 

If calibrating your Switch doesn't fix your Joy-Con drift issue then the next option is to try and clean the contacts without opening anything up. To do this you'll need professional switch and contact cleaner specifically designed for cleaning electronic components. Don't be tempted to try any old spray you have around the house - look specifically for the stuff made to clean electrical contacts.   

As well as the proper switch and contact cleaner you'll need a small tool, like a tiny screwdriver or tweezers. Push the affected Joy-Con stick back gently and, using the tool, lift up the tiny rubber skirt around the base so you can see under it. Squirt the tiniest amount of cleaner into the gap you've made, release the rubber skirt and gently massage the stick in all the directions it can go in. Always use the least amount of cleaner possible as you'll need to leave the Joy-Con to dry afterwards so you don't want it swimming in the stuff. 

If you're lucky the cleaner will clear out any gunk and fluff from the contacts and restore the Joy-Con to it's former, centred glory.  

Replace or repair the Joy-Con stick

This isn't an option we're really going to go into because unless you have skill with electronics it's not an easy task. It is possible to crack open the Joy-Con and physically replace the affected stick, or even dismantle it and clean it directly, but as we said, it's definitely a pro move that we're just mentioning for information. If you're going to go down this route, make sure you do the proper research beforehand.

In former lives Leon's been a scientist, a musician and teacher, stints that included a shoe full of liquid nitrogen, a small tour of Germany and oh GOD so much marking.