Handy Tips for January 2010: Cleaning your Discs


How to clean a CD or DVD

You spend a lot of money on your CD’s and DVD’s, so it is understandable that you want to protect that investment. If you get smudges or fingerprints on the playing surface, you don’t want to ruin it trying to get it clean.

The right stuff: CD’s and DVD’s are made of polycarbonate plastic, so the best cleaning solvent to use is the same one you use to clean your countertops or windows. Select a cleaner that leaves no residue.

The right method: Your digital media disc does actually have a “groove” just like an old vinyl record, just much narrower and not nearly as deep. Foreign material stuck in the groove will cause playing errors. Use plenty of liquid, and let it soak for a few seconds before you wipe it off.

Use a soft, lint-free cloth to wipe off the liquid. A paper towel is okay as long as it’s soft. When you wipe, resist the circular motion impulse, moving instead from the center to the outside circumference. That’s because if you do scratch the surface, a radial scratch will not affect playability, but a circular scratch will! Apply only light pressure. If it doesn’t come clean, use more liquid.

Wipe it until it’s dry. Any residue will affect playability just as surely as a fingerprint, a blot of mustard, or a crumb of cheese.

The right storage: StereoMan shouldn’t have to tell you to keep your digital media discs stored in a proper receptacle. But what if you can’t find that plastic “jewel case”? Keep a few ziplock sandwich bags handy. They’re just the right size, and will keep the playing surface clean and dust-free.