How to Clean Copper Contacts

Copper contacts and connectors in cords.
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 15
What You'll Need
Lint-free towels
Cotton swabs
Isopropyl alcohol
White eraser
White vinegar
Distilled water
Baking soda

You will find copper contacts in nearly anything that requires a battery or has to handle a constant flow of electricity. Even though copper is a versatile metal it will, over time, tarnish and lose its conductivity. This is usually caused by battery acid or moisture but age can also be a factor. This is especially the case when talking about video gaming systems that use cartridges. There are many other ways to clean copper. The article below will show you how to properly clean copper contacts so that they will continue to work good as new.

Step 1 - Do an Initial Cleaning

Even though the copper contacts may be worn and covered in dirt and grime, it doesn't mean you should neglect cleaning them before removing any other muck. It is important to remove the dust because alcohol will not remove it so you need to use a lint-free towel to wipe down the contacts. Try your best to get in each crevice as dust can get in and stay nearly anywhere. You may also utilize a cotton swab to get to these areas.

Step 2 - Clean with Alcohol

A bottle of rubbing alchohol

Isopropyl or rubbing alcohol is the choice for many who work with electronics. It is safe on metal and is non-polar which means it does not conduct electricity. It also dries very quickly. Dip the cotton swab in the alcohol and begin rolling the soaked tip over the copper contacts. Use as much force as you need to and vigorously scrub them. As you rub, also roll the cotton swab so you do not continuously use the same side. Continue to scrub the copper contacts until the head of the cotton swab is black. Use as many swabs as you need to get them clean.

Step 3 - Use an Eraser

Copper contacts can also become dirty with black scuff marks if the contacts have something inserted and removed on a regular basis. This is especially the case with cartridge video games. Use the eraser and, with a lot of force, scrub the copper contacts. You'll begin to notice the black streaks being removed and the contacts becoming hot from the friction. Don't be alarmed as this is normal. Once you are satisfied you can then gently rub the contacts down with alcohol.

Step 4 - Try Vinegar and Salt for Tougher Jobs

Salt, vinegar, and sponges

Removing rust and battery acid is different from removing simple dirt and wear from general use. Make a soaking liquid by mixing equal parts white vinegar with salt (if you use one cup vinegar you will use one teaspoon salt). The ions in the salt interact with the acid in the vinegar to create a strong cleaning solution. Use a screwdriver (if needed) to remove the contacts for soaking, and never submerge an item that is connected to electricity of other delicate components. Let the copper contacts soak for twenty minutes before you wipe them down with the lint-free towel and repeat the previous steps.

Combine distilled water with baking soda and quickly dip the item afterward to stop the chemical reaction created by the salt and vinegar. Then, if you've removed the contacts, make sure they're thoroughly dry before fixing them back in place.