How To Clean A CD

Ever wonder how to clean a CD, when it has fingerprints all over it, or even worse, when something gets spilled on it, like soda?

how to clean a CD
Photo courtesy of The Artifex, Flickr CC

When a CD gets dirty it can skip or otherwise not allow proper access of the data stored on the CD, making it frustrating to use.

This dirt can be from various sources, several of which will be discussed below.

Dusting CDs

When a CD is merely dusty you don't even need to use any type of cleaner on it, but can instead just wipe it with a clean, soft cloth.

I recommend using a microfiber cloth, which grabs the dust easily, and has a weave which will not easily scratch the CD. You could also use a lint-free, anti-static pad available at electronic stores.

Proper Way To Wipe CDs When Dusting Or Cleaning

When you either dust or clean CDs make sure that you do not rub them in a circular motion. Rubbing a CD in this manner can cause scratches.

Instead, always wipe in a straight line from the center of the CD to its outer edge.

How To Clean A CD When It Has More Than Dust On It

If you have something on a CD, such as soda or something else sticky, you definitely want to clean that off before placing the CD in your CD player.

When this happens first try removing the sticky stuff by wetting a clean wet cloth with plain warm (not hot) water, and wiping as discussed above.

Try not to get the CD too wet, if possible. That is why you always should, for any of the methods discussed that use liquid to clean the CD, wet or spray the cloth with the liquid, not spray or pour it directly onto the CD.

If plain water does not work, you can progressively use stronger cleaning products, but caution should be used with anything stronger than water. If a CD is too precious to be ruined, take it to a professional to be cleaned!

You can also use a cleaner made especially for CDs.

CD manufacturers have warned that household cleaners can be too harsh for cleaning CDs, and can damage them.

However, when you want to figure out how to clean a CD at home using household products two of the most used are alcohol and glass cleaner.

Glass cleaner can be used to remove oily fingerprints or other oily residue from CDs that water alone can't easily remove.

A solution of rubbing alcohol and water, mixed in a one-to-one ratio, is also commonly used. It can remove fingerprints, and is useful because it evaporates quickly.

Proper Handling of CDs

To avoid additional dirt and scratches on your CDs in the future make sure to place the CD back into its case after each use.

In addition, hold the CD by the center, by placing your finger in the center hole, or by holding it on the edges. This will keep your fingerprints and the oil from your hands from getting on the CD and dirtying it.

What About Cleaning A Scratched CD?

Cleaning scratched CDs, and perhaps even fixing the scratches, uses a different method than just cleaning alone.

Check out this article on cleaning scratched CDs to learn more.

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