Tips to clean and repair CDs and DVDs

July 29, 2015

If you want to make the most of your CDs and DVDs, you'll want to keep them clean, and know how to repair them when they get scratched.

Tips to clean and repair CDs and DVDs

Keep your discs clean

  • CDs and DVDs need to be kept free of dust and fingerprints, which can cause tracking errors by blocking the path of the laser that reads the discs.
  • Cleaning is just a matter of wiping your discs with a damp nonabrasive cloth — the cloths designed to clean eyeglasses are ideal.
  • You should never use harsh chemicals or cleaning agents.
  • You can, however, use a water-based lens cleaner or mild detergent, if needed.Gently wipe the disc by moving the cloth in a curved line from the inside hole to the outer edge.
  • Don't wipe in a circular motion; you can make the disc unreadable if you accidentally scratch it while wiping around the disc's circumference.

Repair a scratched disc

  • Do you have a scratched CD or DVD that's headed for the trash? Before you toss it, try fixing it with some metal polish.
  • The idea is to use the polish to smooth out the scratch so the player's laser can read the data; you don't necessarily have to make the scratches disappear.
  • Use a soft cloth to rub a couple of drops of polish into the disc until the scratch is almost gone.
  • Scratches are best handled by rubbing along the direction of the scratch, while scuff marks should be polished in a radial motion.
  • Let the polish dry on the surface; then use a fresh soft cloth to rub it off, using a radial motion.
  • You can use other products in a similar fashion to smooth out the scratches on your discs. Non-gel white toothpaste and car wax are two popular choices.
  • There are also many commercial disc-repair kits and devices available, some of which can be very effective. They are sold by audio-equipment retailers.
  • Of course, if a scratch is deep enough to damage a disc's data layer, it can't be repaired no matter what you do. (The same is true for any scratches on the disc's label side, which back onto the disc's reflective layer.)
  • Still, any attempts to salvage a scratched disc are always worth the effort — not to mention the money and time you'll save when you're successful.
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