Game Maintenance Hacks: Cleaning and Maintaining an Arcade Machine

Nothing brings classic fun to your game room like an old-school arcade game. The thrill of playing a vintage arcade game can be a great way to entertain family and friends. This is why arcade machines have become a staple in many private and public spaces, including the home, office, and other establishments, like a game center and arcade rooms. But to ensure longevity and functionality, you should know the proper way of maintaining an arcade machine.

The proper maintenance of a retro arcade machine requires you to have some knowledge about how they work. If that sounds daunting to you, don’t worry! We at The Men’s Cave have prepared this article to provide you with all the information you need to maintain your arcade game machines for more classic nostalgia even in the years to come.

Before everything else though, let’s establish the basics.

Before You Get Started

While you may be ready to start your clean-up process, here are a few points you may want to know before taking any maintenance action.

Read the Arcade Machine Manual

Remember, not all arcade units are built the same, just as not all arcade units cost the same. So, it’s important to read the manual that comes with the machine during your purchase. It will tell you about the specific and proper maintenance instructions for your model and unit. This is especially important when it comes to cleaning and troubleshooting, as some machines may have unique steps or products they recommend using.

Be sure to follow all instructions carefully to avoid damaging your unit or voiding any warranties. The manual might also contain a contact number of who you can call for long-term video game repairs and maintenance service, so take note of this.

The Supplies You’ll Need

When it comes to arcade unit cleaning and maintenance, you’ll need a few supplies. The most important items for your routine cleans include:

– A gentle cleaner (rubbing alcohol or all-purpose cleaner)
– Soft rags or microfiber cloths
– Soft brushes
– Compressed air
– Cotton swabs and Q-tips (for more detailed areas)
– Vacuum cleaner (for sparing use only)

Time to Unplug and Recharge

Now that you’re geared to start the cleaning process, it’s time to unplug the machine from all power sources. Not only does this help prevent any accidents or shocks that may occur while you’re cleaning, but also signals the first step of the cleaning process.

So, take your brushes, cloths, and gentle cleaner bottles out, and read on!

Arcade Machines: The Ultra Cleaning Checklist

Take note of the following parts of an arcade unit and the proper ways to keep them spick and span, ready to relive nostalgia for another day.

The Machine’s Exterior

Dust and debris are the most common causes of malfunction in these machines. If left unattended, it could get inside the unit and cause irreparable damage. To prevent this, you’ll want to clean the exterior of your machine regularly.

The Cabinet Exterior

Using a soft cloth, gently wipe down the exterior of the arcade. You can use a mild detergent or all-purpose cleaner if needed. If the cabinet is particularly dirty, you may need to use a small amount of water and a soft brush to scrub away stubborn dirt.

Make sure to avoid any harsh abrasives that may scratch the surface of the cabinet. Doing so can also damage the finish and artwork (if any), rendering the machine more prone to further wear and tear.

We recommend using cotton towels when wiping down the cabinet’s artwork. This specific cloth is harmless to acrylic-lathered surfaces.

Marquee and Monitor

The marquee and the monitor should also be cleaned regularly. Wipe down both with a damp cloth to remove any dust or dirt buildup. Avoid using any kind of cleaner, as this may damage the display.

To clean the plastic parts of the arcade cabinet, use a mild detergent and a soft cloth. Be sure to dry it off thoroughly afterwards.

Control Panel

To clean the control panel, use a soft brush and some isopropyl alcohol. Be gentle when brushing around any buttons, as this may cause them to become stuck.

If you need to remove any dirt or grime from the buttons themselves, use a cotton swab with some rubbing alcohol. Avoid using too much liquid on the buttons as this leads to damage. The joystick can be wiped down with a damp cloth.

Finally, use compressed air to get any dust or debris out of the control panel. Do not blow too hard, as this could cause the buttons, joystick, and game console to malfunction.

The Machine’s Interior

Finally, it’s time to give the inside of your unit a good clean. This is especially important if you’ve noticed any signs of dust or dirt buildup on the exterior.

Take Note: Cleaning the arcade’s interior can be risky, especially for older machines, as its wires may be brittle over time. So, only proceed with cleaning it if you feel secure in your knowledge to do so.

If you don’t feel comfortable handling the electrical interior components of the machine, it may be best to seek professional maintenance help to avoid inflicting new and more damages (if any).

Exhaust Fans

These are important to clean as they tend to collect dust and can become a fire hazard, as dust lint can be flammable to spark. Check the fans and its vents for any dust buildup and keep it clean with a soft cloth. Use a vacuum if necessary.


The bezel is the part of the machine that acts as a barrier between the monitor screen and the inner workings of the unit. To properly clean the bezel, you can remove it and use a soft cloth and mild detergent around its surface. Once it’s cleaned, dry it off with a soft cloth before re-installing the bezel.

Other Parts

Just like all the wiping down you’ve been doing in some parts, use a dry soft microfiber towel to clean along interior parts with dust buildups. These interior parts may include the circuit boards, capacitors, and other controls. For stubborn dust accumulation, you can use a vacuum cleaner but be extra careful when doing so.

The Machine’s Space and Surroundings

In order to ensure the longevity and quality of your unit, it’s also important to pay attention to the environment around it. Make sure that the area is well-ventilated and free from dust, dirt, and other debris. If your machine is located near a window or other potential room items that can be a source of moisture, make sure that the space is adequately covered.

Additionally, ensure that the temperature in the area is not too hot or cold, as this can damage the machine and its components. Pay attention to any signs of wear and tear, such as rust or corrosion, and act accordingly.

Keep away cocktail tables or any sort of table with food and drinks that may be spilled into the machine from the area. This also takes away the players’ temptation to snack while playing around with the unit.

Arcade Game Maintenance Tips to Consider

Regular Maintenance Checks

These are the maintenance checks you can do on a regular basis.

1. Check through wires to note if any have potential burn marks. If there are, have them replaced immediately.

2. Replace micro-switches after 2 years of usage or if you feel that buttons no longer bounce back well.

3. Verify that the light on the power supply is bright and consistent. This indicates a consistent power flow. If it’s dim and flickering, it’s a possible indication that the power supply is struggling to keep a steady power, and replacing it is the only solution to help improve your machine’s longevity.

4. Look out for buzzing sounds in the speakers. These subtle noises may indicate a need for replacement soon.

5. Listen to your local repair staff’s comments on many other parts of the machine that you should check in on once in a while.


If your unit is not used regularly, you might want to know the proper storage procedures to keep it operational the next time you’re planning to use it.

1. Cover the machine with a dust cover when not in use to protect it from potential damage.

2. If you have multiple machines, make sure you store them in separate areas or even better, different rooms.

3. Be sure to check on the unit regularly for any signs of rust or corrosion. You may want to use a silicone spray to protect vulnerable parts. If there’s high humidity in the room, use dehumidifying silica gel packs to help remove the moisture. This prevents rusting. 


Safety should always be a primary concern when dealing with arcade machines. Take note of the following:

1. Ensure that the power plug is safely secured.

2. Be aware of any potential risks of electric shock or fire. Be sure your arcade unit is away from flammable materials or anything of the like.

3. For multiple machines, have y-splitters to avoid overloading the outlets.

To Conclude

The cleaning and maintenance of an arcade machine is an important step in ensuring that it stays in good condition and provides the games and entertainment you need for years to come.

Now that you know the basics of the proper maintenance your unit and its additional equipment, you are ready to keep it–and your games room–as functional and new as when you first bought it. Get ready for a high player experience for as long as you might expect. Hopefully these tips will help you keep your current and new machines in tip-top shape!

Read More

If you liked this article, you might also be interested in checking out another article we wrote detailing the top 10 arcade games suitable for kids. We never know; you just might find your next family arcade purchase from this list!

And if you’re ever on the lookout for new arcade machines to add to your collection, we’ve got a large catalog of machines you might want to check out.

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