August 10, 2020

How to Clean Sega Genesis Game Cartridges (Internal Cleaning Tips)

I’ve literally cleaned hundreds of retro gaming carts and have learned a good number of cleaning and repair methods from fellow gamers, collectors, pawn shop owners, etc. This guide demonstrates some super simple, easy-to-use strategies for cleaning the copper metal contacts inside your Sega Genesis or Master System games.

For more game cleaning tips and tools, check out our other videos or simply visit us online at:

If you’re just looking for the tools, you can go directly there with this link:


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  • I’ve used windex (glass cleaner)to clean the contacts. Do you recommend that or should I try the rubbing alcohol?

  • There's a lot of excess stuff here.
    Just get a q-tip,lightly put some Windex on it,then rub it on the contacts. Then get another q-tip and lightly put water on it to clean out the Windex since it leaves residue that can mess up your game even more. After that get a third q-tip and use it to soak up the water left on the contacts.
    Leave it to dry for 2 minutes and it should work.
    You don't need WD-40 or needing to opening the cartridge with a security bit,just some common household items.

  • I have polished an alc-tipped my copy of sonic 1 many times but i still cannot get it to work. Any advise?

  • Do all sega game boards have teh SEGA logo on their chips? Trying to authenticate some of the rare sega games I purchased and make sure they aren't reproductions.

  • so, I've noticed that on some of the sega  games, this 4.5mm screw doesn't work due to the fact that there are different types of screws in the  game examples WWF Royal Rumble and NHL Hockey, so I was wondering which ones that I needed for each of those games?

  • Thanks so much! I've been wondering what to do with these old games for ages, and in 2 minutes, with some WD40, they're alive again! Guess this isn't going to be a productive weekend after all…

  • @Video Game Museum why would you use wd40 and polishers that leave damaging residues on the contacts as opposed to 95% plus alcohol which won't or in extreme cases high quality residue free art erasers.

  • I thought my Shinobi cart was screwed (I'm a noob to Genesis) but it turns out it works, all I had to do was insert the cart about halfway and boom! Worked like magic

  • well my gen 2 genesis has been sitting in a box since the 90's. it still works, hell 95% of my games still work too!

    all xcept one … altered beast. my o.g. genesis title, came with my gen 1 genesis. im going to get some WD-40.

    tried cleaning the contacts with rubbing alcohol & qtip. haven't tried disassembling it yet, mainly because i don't have that 4.5 mm security screw adapter  (not to mention its probably just as much $ for it as a replacement copy of AB would be)

    would certainly be easy enough to simply emulate A.B. i'd like to get my cart. to work again however.

    there doesn't appear to be anything loose inside the cartridge when i shake it.

    what would cause the cart. to simply cease to function? it was stored with my other games.

    help? thanks.

  • I have a couple of Sega Genesis games that have different screws.  Double Dragon has these bits that are round on the outside but have some kind of holes in the middle, and I'm not sure what the hell to do here.

  • in my experience the best way to clean the nes carts is by using Staedtler Mars Plastic Erasers (u can find them on ebay)…  they simply "erase" all the dirt & grime from the copper connects, without leaving any residue on the copper connects (or remove any copper)…carts work like new after u clean 'em. 
    For extra dirty/rusty connects, you have no choice but to use some metal polish (like Brasso copper polish) and then use alcohol to wipe away any residue polish.

  • I have the same problem with my copy. It just means that the internal memory battery is dead and a new one just needs to be soldered in place of that one. There are tutorial videos concerning the same thing involving NES games. It does take a CR-2032 lithium battery with the pins attached and you can find those anywhere that sells watches.

  • once I clean my games, is there a specific amount of time I should wait to test them out or are they ready to go once theyre done cleaning?

  • Hmm, I didn't know you can open a Genesis cartridge without damaging the top portion of the game's sticker label?…

  • I've had the best luck without chemicals using rectangular rubber erasers. Simply generate some heat by vigorously rubbing back and forth over chip until contacts are bright, gold, and shiny. If done correctly, you will have bits of eraser left over that can easily be wiped away.This is alot easier, faster and the least invasive method I've ever used.

  • Those are tricky ones. We haven't found a good security bit yet for those goofy screws. If you do, let us know. Otherwise, try thin pliers or strong tweezers.

  • Can you please tell me how to open a Sega Genesis cartridge such as Pocahontas and Alien 3 that use another kind of security screw? I just don't know what to do about these types of screws.

  • Just like in this video. For the top of the Sonic & Knuckles cart, I'd use a firm toothbrush or something to scrub the top contacts.

  • I got working Sonic 3 and two Sonic & Knuckles carts but the connectivity between them doesn't work with any game. I'm pretty sure it's connectivity that's the problem and not any actual hardware errors. How would I go around cleaning those?

  • We love <3 <3 <3 WD-40 <3 <3 <3, but try to see what works best for you.

    I'd give the cleaning kit a try. It certainly beats taking apart the system. Also, a Q-tip *very* lightly dampened with your favorite cleaner or an dry emery board are another couple items you could try on the system's contacts to clean them.

  • Right, you don't have to open them to do basic cleaning . In fact, we clean most of our games without opening them by simply using a q-tip in WD-40. Best of luck! Happy retro gaming!

  • Worked perfectly! I utilized this technique on my new Pokemon Snap N64 game that wasn't working and it worked like a charm. Thx for the help!

  • No, you really only need to open it if it's exceptionally dirty or if you want to do a serious cleaning job. A basic cleaning with a Q-tip dipped in your basic solvent is all you need most of the time.

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