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How To Fix Sticky Arcade Buttons (5 Things To Do)

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Have you ever owned an arcade machine and had problems with the buttons sticking? Maybe you have recently been to your favorite arcade to play a game and found out that the arcade buttons are sticky and totally ruin playing the game. If you have had either of these problems you will definitely want to keep reading this article. 

So how do you fix sticky arcade buttons?

The most common way to fix arcade buttons that stick is to simply clean them. You will want to use a damp cloth and some soap to clear any dirt or gunk that may have built up on the sides or top of the buttons that could be causing them to stick down.

If cleaning your sticky arcade buttons doesn’t work the next step that you will want to take is to remove them entirely from the arcade machine and inspect them.

  • Are they damaged in any way?
  • Is there gunk or dirt on the sides that your previous cleaning didn’t remove?
  • Are they misshapen (from heat or just age)?

When you inspect the buttons you should be able to have a much clearer picture of why they are getting stuck and what you need to do to fix the issue. If there is a bunch of built up gunk that soap and water won’t remove then you might want to try using some rubbing alcohol on a cloth (don’t use too much).

Rubbing alcohol should be safe for your buttons but will work better than just soap and water to remove the years of dirt and buildup that these arcade buttons will normally get on them.

Depending upon why the buttons are sticky in the first place, will depend on how you fix them.

If you want to know the five simple ways to fix your arcade buttons, you will want to keep reading. You can also watch this video which will show you how to fix your sticky arcade machine buttons.

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What Causes The Arcade Buttons To Stick?

Arcade machines are loads of fun to play at home or at an actual arcade. However, the more you use an arcade machine the more likely your buttons are to stick or get damaged in some other way.

Just like any other machine, an arcade machine needs maintenance. This is because the machine has a habit of wearing down when they are used for a long time. This is why one or more of the arcade body parts that need maintenance is the controls, especially the buttons. The buttons have a habit of getting stuck. 

Below are the reasons the buttons normally get stuck.

1. Button Stiffness

This happens when you either replace the buttons with new ones or move the button shells. This can also be caused by aging of the machines. When the buttons start to get a little stiff they might not fit in the holes on the arcade board properly which in turn can cause them to not go up or down properly.

2. Pressing The Buttons Recklessly

The buttons are hard, but it doesn’t mean that they should be pressed extremely hard or slammed repeatedly while you are playing the arcade game. In most cases, kids who are a bit younger will be more likely to repeatedly hit the arcade buttons hard while playing.

So if you have younger children make sure to teach them that simply pushing the button is enough and they don’t have to repeatedly hit it as hard as possible.

This can cause the buttons to slowly break simply because of abuse. It could also be caused by people who get angry at the machine when they lose and smack or punch down on the machine. 

3. Combat Games

Games that involve a lot of shooting or fighting tend to cause arcade buttons to get stuck. This happens especially when you are competing with an individual.

Also, games that require you to beat high scores accelerate the sticking of buttons. This is simply because the buttons are being pushed hundreds of times every game instead of just a couple. 

4. Dirt

The arcade buttons may also jam due to dirt getting stuck right below the button covers. Small things such as remaining food particles may get stuck. This causes tension between the button push and the food particles down into the buttons.

If a drink gets spilt on the buttons, it can also cause the buttons to become sticky. These two problems are what cause the majority of buttons on machines to be stuck. 

How To Fix Sticky Arcade Buttons

If the buttons on your arcade machine have become sticky and are no longer going up or down like they should then below you will find five tips on how to fix this issue on your machine.

1. Try Cleaning Them

Cleaning sticky buttons might just do the trick here. You’ll need to clean both outside and inside just to make sure that there aren’t any obstructions present.

Scrub them with a large amount of soap until all the stickiness goes away.Then you can rub them with a clean piece of cloth and leave them to dry for a while. 

Most of the time simply cleaning the buttons with soap and water or rubbing alcohol (if the soap and water doesn’t remove all of the gunk) will fix the issues that you are experiencing with the buttons sticking.

2. Make Sure They Are Assembled The Correct Way

Although this is not a common problem, sometimes an arcade machine will have a piece or two be put together wrong. When this happens it causes the buttons to not work properly.

If your arcade machine is brand new and the buttons are sticking then this is the first thing that I would recommend checking. Since the machine’s buttons haven’t had time to get dirty then this is more likely to be the culprit. 

Simply take apart and reassemble the buttons the correct way one at a time to fix this.

3. Remove The Buttons And Clean Them

If cleaning the top and sides of the buttons didn’t work, you may need to disassemble the board and clean the buttons (and the holes in the board) from the underneath side. As with cleaning the buttons while they are still on the board, I would recommend starting with soap and water. 

If the arcade buttons are still covered in dirt and grime and the soap and water won’t remove it then you can move to some rubbing alcohol. 

I would not recommend using any harsh chemicals as it can discolor the buttons and make them not look as good as brand new. So if possible just stick with soap, rubbing alcohol, and Simple Green for your cleaning products. 

Once they are dry you are ready to reassemble the buttons on the board and see if that fixes the issue. 

4. Replace The Arcade Buttons

Although I hope this never happens, you may need to replace a broken button every once in a while on a machine. If you have cleaned it, ensured that the buttons were assembled properly, and they are still sticking or not functioning properly, it might be time to buy some new buttons. 

Purchasing new buttons for your arcade machine is relatively inexpensive and will allow you to make your machine look like new again. 

The main issue with replacing buttons on your arcade machine though is that you will often want to replace all of the buttons at once which can get a little pricey. This is because if you only replace the buttons that were sticking it will make the other buttons look dingy or discolored. 

So just keep in mind that if you replace some of the buttons you will likely want to replace them all so they all look nice and new. 

5. Take It To A Technician

If none of the above things work for you then you will need to contact a tech. If replacing the buttons doesn’t work then a tech is likely needed to figure out exactly what the issue could be. 

For most people using the methods above will fix the sticky button issue on their arcade machine but if it didn’t in your case then calling a tech and asking for help is your next step. 

The technician will be able to tell you exactly what is wrong, no matter if it’s something as simple as the button hole being cut wrong, or a whole issue with the wiring of the machine.

Things To Do To Avoid Your Arcade Buttons Getting Stuck

If you have cleaned and fixed your arcade buttons that were sticking then you are ready to get back to gaming. However, there are some things that you should avoid doing to help make sure that your arcade machine buttons don’t start to get sticky again. 

1. Avoid Pressing The Buttons Too Hard. 

Pressing the button too hard may result in the jamming of the control buttons. Even if the game involves a lot of pressing, you do not need to press the buttons aggressively.

2. Avoid Eating Or Drinking While Playing The Game. 

Chewing food leads to dropping crumbs which might find their way under the cover of the button or on the sides leading to buttons getting stuck. Not only that, but a lot of foods, especially saucy and fried foods contain a lot of oil which tends to stick. 

This is why avoiding eating them while playing your arcade game will help your buttons last longer and help you have less issues with the buttons sticking. 

3. Regularly Clean The Dust From The Inside Parts Of Your Cabinet.

As we saw earlier a dusty and dirty button can cause the buttons to stick. This is why having the habit of generally cleaning your buttons frequently reduces the risk of the buttons getting stuck.

4. Keep Certain Arcade Games Away From Kids.

Kids are the number one button busters. In combat games, they like being so competitive that they end up pressing the buttons extremely hard. If your household contains a kid, it’s probably best that you restrict them to playing it when you aren’t around to supervise.

Tools Needed To Fix Sticky Arcade Buttons

1. Screwdriver

This is used to pluck out the button of the arcade machine. It’s also used to unlock the plastic covers around it and sometimes clean the side of the buttons by scraping around them

2. Wrench

The wrench is very important especially in the mounting and unmounting of the push button. The wrench comes in handy on tight buttons and button rings. It is used on the following buttons

  • IL arcade buttons
  • Ultralux translucent (Chrome arcade buttons)
  • Happ competition arcade buttons
  • Happ standard arcade buttons
  • Happ ultimate arcade buttons
  • Classic arcade buttons

3. A Clean Piece Of Cloth

This is for rubbing the switch and LED after cleaning them.


The buttons of an arcade are pretty sturdy, so if they malfunction it’s probably some other part in the arcade or just simply dirt and grime that needs to be cleaned off of them. 

So now you know how to fix your arcade buttons that are sticky, and what tools you need to do so.