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  NES Hardware: NES Cleaning Kit    
  Item Name:
NES Cleaning Kit

Nintendo Item Number:
NES-A-CK (USA-2) (red stripe)


Release Date:
1989 - NES-A-CK (USA-2)
1991 - NES-A-CK (USA-5)

Cleaning kit for the NES.

NES-A-CK (USA-2) manual
NES-A-CK (USA-5) manual
Special thanks to Anonymotron for submitting the Cleaning Kit manuals

NES-A-CK (USA-2) Front
NES-A-CK (USA-2) Back
NES-A-CK (USA-5) Front
NES-A-CK (USA-5) Back

As anyone who played the NES long enough can attest, one of the system's shortcomings was the cartridge-to-console connection which, over time, could lead to problems loading games. Although the 72 pin connector was often the culprit when such problems arose, another issue was simply dust and dirt on both the console and cartridges. Someone at Nintendo - either through good intentions or an attempt at monetizing a design flaw - realized that they could sell a cleaning kit, and the NES Cleaning Kit was born. The Cleaning Kit included tools to clean both the console's connector as well as pins on the game cartridges.

This accessory was first released in 1989, as the 'red stripe' cleaning kit, so known because the cleaning kit on the box cover included a pretty rad red stripe. A second version of the Cleaning Kit was released in 1991 with a much more fan-friendly Mario cover. (Side note - if you like the later Mario cover, there's some great fan art in the link below. Although the versions have slightly different Nintendo Item Numbers, the contents were the same and both the 1989 and 1991 versions share the same UPC number. The Cleaning Kit was also released in other areas, such as Europe, which has a combined French & Dutch-language manual and went under the Nintendo Item Number NES-A-CK (FAH).

Over the years NES fans learned two important lessons related to game loading issues: that most connectivity issues are fixed by replacing the 72 pin connector; and that rubbing alcohol and a q-tip works perfectly fine to clean components. Armed with this knowledge, the NES Cleaning Kit isn't a terribly useful accessory, but still remains an important part of both NES folklore and many NES collections. Nintendo also released cleaning kits for the Gameboy and SNES, as can be seen in the ad below. As of the time of this writing (2021) this is still a very common accessory and can easily be found on retro game retailers and eBay.

Additional Info:
Cleaning Kit ad
Cleaning Kit fan art by VideoGameArt&Tidbits

Special thanks to Anonymotron, who not only supplied the Cleaning Kit manuals above, but also provided the needed kick in the butt to get me working on the NES Hardware section!