CD cleaning and care: How to keep every disc on the spin

A beloved CD is on the edge? Then how about a little cleaning procedure? If you do it right, you usually fix the problem. Dirt on the disc can prevent the laser from reading the stored data properly. If you follow a few rules, dust and dirt are usually easy to remove. Scratches are more difficult, but not impossible. What applies to CDs also applies to other optical data carriers such as DVDs and Blu-rays.

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Clean the CD, don’t scratch it! 5 tips

Your CD player or CD receiver doesn’t want to play a CD anymore? Then see if our 5 tips will help you get it working again. After all, physical sound carriers such as CDs are far from obsolete. You can also solve problems with DVDs with our tips.

1. Nothing is more gentle than air

You don’t have to bring out the big guns in the dust. Just blow him away. However, breathing air is not the ideal solution, because the moisture it contains can cause particles to stick to the surface instead of being blown off. Better use compressed air sprays, which you can also use to blow out PC cases and keyboards.

2. Use the right wipe

If you rub the CD on the trouser leg of a pair of jeans for cleaning, the protective layer of the data carrier does not do the user any favours. With glasses cleaning cloths you can clean CDs with a clear conscience. If you want to remove a film of lubricant from the surface of the CD, you should also moisten the wipes beforehand. CD/DVD cleaning kits are also available in stores, which usually consist of a microfiber cloth and a cleaning spray. A cleaning disc for the CD player’s drive is also often included. A fine brush on the underside of the disc cleans the lens optics of the scanning laser during playback.

3. No circular movements – clean CDs

When cleaning a CD, you should not wipe the disc in the reading direction. In concrete terms, this means: Do not wipe along the round disc in a circular motion. It’s better to clean vertically or in straight lines from the inside out. Background: Scratches, which might be caused by this, weigh more heavily in the reading direction, because the error correction of the drive can compensate for the less well.

4. Be careful with chemicals

Water mixed with a little washing-up liquid often helps against grease stains or the like. On the other hand, you should keep your hands off aggressive cleaning agents and chemicals containing solvents. They can attack the protective layer and the data grooves. After cleaning, you should gently rub the disc dry with a microfibre cloth. Water and detergent deposits can also interfere with playback. You can also use distilled water to prevent limescale deposits.

5. The correct way to deal with scratches

Scratches on the bottom of the CD can deflect or refract the laser beam in such a way that playback errors occur. The trick to saving the CD is to reduce the difference in height between the tiny grooves and the intact surface by carefully sanding them down. Special CD repair sets with polishing paste serve exactly this purpose. You may have heard of a household remedy that uses the same principle: It tries to attenuate the refraction of light by rubbing toothpaste into the surface. Scratch removal can work like this. However, there is no guarantee of success. If it doesn’t work, you can even use it to give the disc the final touch. Therefore, it should always be the last solution. You should also take care of the top of the disc. If there are deeper scratches here, the laser beam may not be reflected properly either. If you put the disc in the case after each use, cleaning may not be necessary.

Ideally, you should also try to insert the CD into another drive. Where one drive fails, another may work. In such a case you should transfer the songs on the CD to the PC.

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The Impaq 8000 in close-up

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Conclusion: Pay attention to material, liquid and technique when cleaning

  • Dust can be blown away – best with a compressed air spray.
  • Lint-free microfibre cloths are suitable for dry and wet cleaning of CDs.
  • Do not stroke the cloth over the CD in circular movements, but in straight lines from the inside to the outside.
  • Scratches that cause reading errors can often be corrected by polishing.
  • However, the polishing method offers no guarantee of success.
©mlange_b, certain right apply. Source: Flickr

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