How to clean pinball machines and not get sick

Thinking about how to avoid colds, flu, and worse, and I have some questions for the community:

A) What kind of cleaner is safe to use on machines to clean off the flipper buttons, adjacent cabinet, lockdown bar and start button area? I hear that influenza and our new coronavirus can be destroyed by soaps, degreasers, alcohol, or bleach solutions - but I don’t want to use bleach on my games! Any experience with cleaners to share?

B) What steps do you take to avoid getting sick from other players?

My flipper hygiene practices so far have been to wash my hands after playing or before eating, and to only touch my nose/eyes with parts that don’t touch the pinball machine (usually a forearm). I sometimes wipe down my phone afterward too, but iPhones say not to use cleaners on the screen…


don’t use your tongue/chin on the Stern action buttons!

other than that any usually surface cleaner that you would use that isn’t abrasive and ideally has no silicon in it. I’m using Dettol Antibacterial All-in-One Disinfectant.

washing hands is essential as even sanitiser isn’t as effective without it, zero tolerance policy on smelly people.

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I literally used my chin on a Star Trek during a multiball Thursday night… :smile:


I always make sure to wash my hands before and after a session. When I run a tournament I provide alcohol based hand sanitizer, and I wish more people would as well

Also your iPhone is probably grosser than any pinball machine on location. They’re filthy things that we constantly keep out, even on the toilet. I just try not to think about it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

When you are done working on a machine, wash your hands with soap and water while you sing to yourself the “Happy Birthday Song” twice or "Stayin’ Alive’ and you are good to go. That is provided you haven’t touched your face a lot while shaking hands and smooching others playing your games with you.

This link may be helpful as well:

I don’t think sanitizing the machines is going to make the difference when you are packed into an area shoulder to shoulder with people.

I can’t think of the last major event that I attended that I didn’t come home with some form of plague.

Not enough sleep with 14 hour days and regardless of my hygiene I end up coming down with something.

When tournaments resume I plan to continue with the mask wearing regardless in the hopes that I can actually make it home from one of these events without catching something.


I would hope going forward that in between players - even post pandemic - that there will be some basic hygiene carry over where:

  • Wipe the plunger and flippers between players
  • Wipe the glass and sides down as well
  • Keep some wipes near the machines so they can be available for wiping down the machines.
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Unless you’re licking the machine, you would only need to sanitise yours hands once you’ve finished your ball - to stop the transfer from your hands to your mouth/nose when you touch your face.

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Or go feet or go home :slight_smile:

I’ve installed auto hand sanitzing dispensers in my home arcade for events. Having seen how the average person cleans games I’d rather they didn’t do it. One game I have at our pinball club is having the artwork lift on the side of the game. I plan for events at my house (which are 90% matchplay) to have breaks on ever other round to clean the games. Assuming we ever have events again.

Its amazing how quickly the availability of cake clears the arcade to make room for cleaning time :grin:


I really hope coming out of this, the wearing of masks in NA is normalized.

I also hope no one ever puts out a bowl of Cheetos at a pinball tournament ever again.


Suspect that would have limited benefit unless everyone or at least a substantial majority keeps wearing a mask. I’m personally hoping this isn’t the ongoing norm if the pandemic has passed and we are close to the pre-covid days interns of infection risk.

Many big ifs for sure but the vaccine is looking increasingly positive.