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September 2015 Retro Gaming Article


September 24, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Stop putting Q-tips in your ears and use them to clean your game carts

I was amazed to learn some people use Q-tips to clean ears - not game carts!

Much the way we use the term Kleenex when referring to any brand of tissue or say "Xerox" as a verb when the copier is most likely another manufacturer - the same is true for Q-tips. They're cotton swabs, but I've always cleaned game cartridges with "Q-tips" regardless of branding.

They say this is the mark of a successful brand - when it becomes a part-of-speech. We don't "search" the Internet. We Google things.

Doctors recommend against using Q-tips to clean one's ear canals, which is sound advice if you've ever gotten a bit overzealous and gone too deep - Ouch. With this in mind, we suggest using Q-tips to keep your retro carts in good condition. This is far preferable to blowing on them since blowing only adds moisture to the contacts.

Q-tips and retro video games Blowing on carts seemed to work simply because each time you re-inserted the cart, it rubbed against the internal contacts and eventually rubbed off enough oxidation to make the cart functional. But it sure made you fell as though you'd done something, right? :)
Q-tips and retro video games Q-tips can be used to clean nearly any game cartridge that may not be working due to oxidation on the contacts. Using Isopropyl alcohol is best as most of it evaporates away and leave moisture behind that causes oxidation - just like blowing on the cart.

Q-tips were invented in the early 1920 by a gent who's invention (cotton balls on toothpicks) went on to become the Q-tip brand. Those who copy this design call them cotton swabs to avoid legal action. One reason we use the Q-tip brand is the fuzz-factor.

Cheaper off-bands cut corners and the cotton on the end of the swab easily comes loose. That's not an issue in your ear, but when fuzz gets caught on the metal contacts of your game, that fuzz can get inside your console. Q-tips tend to be well made, but always lookout for loose fuzz when cleaning your retro video game carts.

Earlier this year I was introduced to the 1-UP Card which eliminates the fuzz-factor with a special cleaning pad made of polypropylene felt. We really liked this product - it takes an old idea and makes it better. What's not to like?

When your game carts won't start up properly, don't push the cart in-and-out of the slot. This can wear out the contacts on the cart. Use a Q-tip (or a i-UP Card) and Isopropyl alcohol. Your retro games will thank you and they'll last longer!

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