How to Clean DVDs

DVD Cleaning Tips

Movie night in the comfort of your own home is a real treat. You’ve got your widescreen television, your surround sound, pop your popcorn, and finally get settled down to watch that latest DVD. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, nothing can ruin that quicker than a DVD that is scratched or dirty. You could be halfway through the movie, just getting to the good part, when the image suddenly stutters and freezes. This is unfortunately a common occurrence with DVDs from the rental store or if you don’t take proper care of your DVD collection. It doesn’t take much to interfere with a DVD. It could have some minor scratches or fingerprints on it that keeps it from working. But not to worry. Knowing how to clean DVDs is easy.

DVD Care Is Important

Some people just don’t take care of their DVDs. Although the discs are pretty sturdy, they can still get scratched if mistreated. Before DVDs, there was VHS tapes. These were much harder to take care of because no matter how well you took care of them, eventually the tape would wear out. Or the machine would wear out and eat the tape. DVD’s are a lot tougher than that and if taken care of properly, should last a long time.

The main thing to remember on taking care of your DVDs is to always put the disc back in the case when you are not using it. Leaving discs out, even stacked up next to the DVD player, will result in a lot of scratches. Also, if you leave DVD’s out somewhere, you run the risk of things happening to the disc. Anyone with small kids should know that sometimes things disappear. If you put the DVD disc out on a counter, that shiny reflective surface just may catch your three year-olds eye. Then it is bye-bye disc. Or your dog may decide it’s a miniature Frisbee. Or food, candy, or liquids may get spilled on it. Anything could happen to it. So be safe and keep the disc protected by its case. That is what the case is for, after all.

How NOT To Clean DVDs

Many times DVDs get damaged from improper cleaning. Some people may just use the hem of their newly starched shirt or a paper towel to clean off any fingerprints. You might as well use sandpaper. If the DVD is dirty, you might rub too hard or try to remove debris by scraping at it with a fingernail. Any of these methods will cause harm to the surface of the disc. There are even cleaning solutions that can cause damage. Some chemicals are too strong and can actually obscure the digital data that the laser in a DVD player reads. Never use industrial strength cleaners on DVDs.

Proper Ways To Clean DVDs

So what is the best way to clean a DVD? There are several simple methods you can use. First of all, you need to be aware of this very important fact. Never wipe a DVD in a circle. Always wipe a DVD in a straight line from center of the disc to outer edge. Why? Because DVD lasers go in a circle when they read a DVD disc and any circular scratches that go around the disc can interfere with the laser. A straight scratch is actually less harmful than a circular one. So always wipe straight across the disc.

To clean off smudges or fingerprints, microfiber cloths are a good, soft material to use. This is the same material used to clean eyeglasses, camera lenses, monitors, and LCD screens. How this works is that microfiber is made up of a very tight weave of synthetic materials that attracts dust and debris and actually lifts it up into the microfiber. Other types of cloths just sort of rub the dust around without really removing it which can cause scratches. You can even wash the microfiber cloths and use them more than once.

The best cleaning solution to use for DVDs is rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol is the solvent of choice for most sensitive equipment because not only does it get rid of many types of dirt and debris, it is mild enough not to harm the disc and won’t leave a residue. Plus, rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly. You can even dilute it some with a ratio of 1-to-1 alcohol and water. You can take a microfiber cloth or a small cotton cloth and wipe in straight lines from the center of the DVD to the outside edge. You don’t even have to dry the DVD with another cloth. Since the alcohol evaporates, just set the disc aside for a few minutes.

You can also use window cleaner to clean smudges and sticky smears from a DVD disc. The ammonia in most window cleaners is very mild, doesn’t leave any residue, and evaporates quickly just like rubbing alcohol. Instead of spraying the DVD, just spray a little bit onto a cotton cloth or microfiber pad and wipe from the center of the DVD to the outside edge.

If there are small and minor scratches on your DVD that interferes with how the disc plays, don’t worry. You can fix this, too. All you need is a little toothpaste. Toothpaste is a natural abrasive that is designed to clean your teeth and it also works on DVD discs.  Just take a small amount of toothpaste and dab it with your finger on the DVD. Mix a little bit of water with it and gently buff those scratches out of the disc. You can use either your finger or a soft cotton cloth. Don’t buff too hard, though, because you can over-do-it and damage the disc. Also, don’t use toothpaste with extra-whitening or baking powder. These brands are like sand-blasting your teeth and are too abrasive. If the scratches won’t come out, hold the DVD up to the light. If you can see light through the scratch, this means the scratch is deep and has actually damaged the digital data. If that happens, then it is time to buy a new copy of that DVD.

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