How To Fix Sticky Arcade Buttons (7 Simple Ways)

Your favorite arcade game can make for a fantastic centerpiece, but the key to enjoying it is to keep it in great condition. A common issue among these games, is sticky buttons. Therefore, any arcade game owner should know how to fix and prevent sticky arcade buttons.

The 7 simple ways to fix sticky arcade buttons are:

  1. Clean the buttons without removing them
  2. Remove the buttons before cleaning them
  3. Check for loose fittings and connections
  4. Check for dust and debris
  5. Use a silicone-based lubricant
  6. Replace buttons
  7. Pay for specialist help

Fixing and preventing sticky arcade buttons doesn’t have to be a chore. Using one or more of these simple methods will help keep your home arcade game in the best condition possible. Below we discuss how to fix sticky arcade buttons and how to prevent them from getting stuck in the future.

What Makes Arcade Buttons Sticky?

Many various factors could make arcade buttons sticky. This could be anything from general wear and tear to dirt and dust that accumulated under the buttons. Even food and drink could coat the buttons or get underneath the mechanisms, leaving them unusable.

Misuse, overuse, and poor maintenance could also cause your arcade buttons to stick. Certain games, such as combat games, often require the buttons to be pushed more often and more violently than more sedate games, which can cause buttons to become unseated and prone to sticking.

Many people use their arcade games recreationally, often with friends. With company, there are usually refreshments. Gaming around food and drinks can lead to spills or food becoming trapped under buttons. Therefore, you should use caution when eating or drinking around your arcade game.

7 Simple Ways To Fix Sticky Arcade Buttons

1. Clean The Buttons Without Removing Them

Sometimes fixing a sticky arcade button can be as easy as simply wiping it clean with a cloth or cotton ball. This could remove the layer of dirt or grease that is causing the button to stick and resolve your issue quickly and easily. Never use water when cleaning your arcade machine, instead use a proper cleaning agent like Novus 2, which is a specialist plastic cleaning product.

If you are unable to source Novus 2, then an alternative glass and hard surface cleaner will suffice. Always spray the cleaner onto a clean cloth and then apply it to your buttons, do not spray directly onto the buttons as you could damage electrical parts surrounding them.

2. Remove The Buttons Before Cleaning Them

There are times when simply wiping down a sticky arcade button won’t fix it, and you may need to remove the button to clean it more thoroughly. There may be food or liquid accumulation underneath causing the issue, so taking off the button entirely may be your only option.

Check your machine’s documentation to see how this can be done, and ensure you use the correct tools to remove the button. You may need special tools, but a basic screwdriver or wrench could suffice. Once removed, clean the button thoroughly using Novus 2 or an alternative such as Windex, and ensure the button is completely dry before replacing it.

If the stickiness was a result of accumulation underneath the button, this method will likely fix it. Using the appropriate tools and referencing the machine’s documentation, ensure you reseat the button in the correct position to avoid further issues.

3. Check For Loose Fittings And Connections

Another cause of arcade buttons becoming sticky is a loose-fitting casing or connection. Through steady use a button could become loose, or the button casing could move slightly, causing the button to jam when pressed. If cleaning the button, in place or after removal, has not worked, check the placement of the buttons for any issues.

Taking the button, the casing, or any other attachments off, and then carefully replacing it could also fix your sticky arcade button. As mentioned above, a combat arcade game will take a lot of punishment, sometimes this can move the button or casing, causing it to jam or stick.

Once the button and all other parts are replaced, test the button to see if the issue has been resolved. Ensure that the button is seated in the correct position and is no longer sticking by repeatedly tapping the button, up to 30-40 times if necessary.

4. Check For Dust And Debris

Dust, grime, and other debris accumulate over time and work their way around and under an arcade button. Some arcade machines and PC setups have a trackball that can control movement, this also steadily collects dust and deposits it within the interior of the machine. Hair can get wrapped around buttons, eventually making it impossible for the button to fully depress.

Opening your arcade machine and checking for dust should be part of your routine maintenance, done at least every three months. Regularly keeping the machine clear of dust and debris will not only maintain the machine’s condition but will also prevent sticky arcade buttons.

Before cleaning inside your machine, ensure that it is switched off and unplugged. Then using a can of compressed air or a clean, dry cloth, clean out all dust and other particles that you can find. If your buttons need attention, removing them to clean them is also a good idea.

5. Use A Silicone-Based Lubricant

Using a silicone-based lubricant regularly can help keep your arcade buttons functioning smoothly. When you feel that there is no particular reason your buttons are not working properly, it could be beneficial to use a lubricant on the pieces. Using a lubricant could bring the troubled button back to life.

Remove the button entirely before applying the lubricant to any moving parts or areas where friction occurs. Then use a cotton ball or Q-tip to wipe away excess lubricant. Completing this process correctly should improve the movement and lifespan of your arcade buttons.

Silicone-based lubricants are perfect for use on arcade machines. The lubricant contains no water, which is much safer for your buttons as well as any cables that they are attached to. Another bonus is that should you spill any liquids onto your buttons, the waterproofing properties of the lubricant can stop water from getting into your machine.

6. Replace Buttons

Sometimes a button starts to stick due to general wear and tear, and no amount of cleaning, dusting, lubricant, or reseating will result in any real improvement. If this is the case, and every avenue above has been tried to no avail, then it may be time to replace your arcade buttons entirely.

Many online stores sell replacement arcade buttons, from specialist shops to Amazon, and they are not overly expensive. Entirely replacing your sticky arcade buttons should solve any issues you were facing. It may even be worth it to replace all the buttons to give your machine a fresh start.

Once you have sourced the new button, ensure it is correctly seated and screwed in properly to avoid any new sticking issues. It is important to ensure that you have the right-sized button that is designed for the job. Trying to use a button that is not seated correctly or one that is not designed for your machine could create more problems.

7. Pay For Specialist Help

If all else fails, it may be in your best interest to seek out help from a specialist who works with arcade game machines. Reaching out to the machine manufacturers or finding a specialist repair shop might be the only way to fix your arcade buttons.

A specialist repair shop can check every connection, trace every wire, and eliminate every possible cause for your sticky buttons. Specialists will have the appropriate tools and necessary experience to diagnose the problem and repair your arcade machine.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to seeking specialist help. On the positive side, they should be able to identify and solve your issue quickly. However, negatively, the more specialized the problem, the costlier the repairs could be. You are not only paying for the time and parts needed, but you are also paying for someone’s experience.

How To Prevent Your Arcade Game Buttons Getting Stuck

There are many simple ways to prevent your arcade buttons from getting stuck, usually falling under general maintenance and preventative measures. Properly maintaining your machine and taking the appropriate preventative measures will prolong its life and prevent buttons from becoming sticky or damaged.

Having a cleaning routine for your machine will help keep it free of dust and grime, which can prevent your buttons from sticking. Regular cleanings, even when only cleaning the surface, will help keep your machine in prime condition. However, it is recommended to open the machine to remove accumulated dust and debris occasionally.

What may look clean to the naked eye, may realistically be in dire need of a deep cleaning. Remember, you should never use water directly on your arcade machine, instead use a hard surface cleaner such as Windex or Novus 2, or a silicone-based lubricant. Spray the solution onto a cloth and use that to remove any grease and grime.

Though arcade games are used for entertainment and there will inevitably be food and drink around, it is important to keep the food and drink away from the game. Having a food-free zone around the machine will prevent crumbs and spills from getting into your machine.

One last preventative measure is careful use of your machine. Arcade games can be fast and frenetic, and button bashing is often a byproduct of certain games such as first-person shooters or fighting games. However, the harder you press the buttons, the more damage will occur.

How To Clean Your Arcade Buttons

The best method for cleaning your arcade buttons will depend on whether you are able to remove them from the unit they are attached to. If you can remove the buttons and can do so without damaging any parts, then you can clean them separately with warm, soapy water. You can safely use water here as the buttons are now separate from the mechanisms and electric parts.

Always ensure that the buttons are completely dry before re-attaching them and placing into their correct positions. Any water left on the parts could work its way into the rest of the machine and could cause serious, potentially irreparable, damage.

If you are unable to remove the buttons, then a hard surface cleaner such as Windex, or a specialist product such as Novus 2 can be applied to a clean, dry cloth and then used to wipe down the machine safely. Using soapy water, even with a cloth, on your machine is not advisable. This could allow water to get into your arcade machine and cause damage.

In addition to removing dirt and stickiness, if your buttons are discolored from being in direct sunlight or have tough stains, you can use bleach. Remove the buttons and place into a bleach solution to clear off any hard-to-remove stains or discoloration.

Final Thoughts

To keep your favorite arcade game providing endless entertainment, it’s important to know how to properly maintain and clean the machine. Sticky buttons are often the first sign of arising issues, so keeping them clean is vital to the health of your machine. Using simple methods like those listed above, you can restore your arcade buttons and prevent future stickiness.