How to Clean CD and DVD Drives

How to Clean CD and DVD Drives

When your CD or DVD (disc) drive starts giving you problems, your
first thought may be to replace it or take it to the repair shop, but a
good cleaning may be all it needs.

Below are three methods to clean the disc drive. The easiest method is
the least effective. The hardest method is the most effective. Since
the hardest method takes some time to do, I recommend that you start
with the easiest method. If it solves your problems, congratulations.
If not, try the next method.

The Cleaner Disc method – this, the easiest method, uses a special
cleaner disc which can be purchased in computer stores. The disc
usually comes with a little bottle of cleaner solution. Apply a few
drops of the solution to the disc and insert it in the disc drawer (be
sure to read and follow the instructions that come with the cleaner
disc). The drive will turn the disc and clean the lens. Unfortunately,
this only works adequately about half the time.

The Cleaning Stick method – this is what I do in desperation when the
cleaner disc does not work and I don’t want to disassemble the drive.
Since all that is needed (at least in my mind this is true) is a little
more pressure applied to the lens, I start out in search of a thin,
flexible stick of some type which is at least six inches long. It
should not have sharp or rough edges that would scratch the lens. Next,
get a soft, thin cloth and put water or rubbing alcohol in the middle
of it. Place one end of the stick under the wet part of the cloth and
slide it into the opened disc drawer. The goal is to rub the wet cloth
on the lens to clean it. Do not apply so much pressure that you will
scratch and ruin the lens. Also try blowing into the disc drive to
remove any dirt that may have accommulated in it. If you do not succeed
at this, proceed to the next method.

The Disassembly method – this method should work but it requires you to
disassemble the drive. So if you are not comfortable with taking the
drive apart, please take it to a computer repair shop and let them do


Take the cover off your computer, unplug the cords from the back of the
disc drive, remove any screws holding it in, and slide it out (you may
need to remove the face plate on the end of the drawer to get the drive
out). Remove the screws in the drive housing and take the cover off.
The bottom side of the drive is a circuit board, so if that is what you
see when you take the cover off, figure out how to access the other
side. On the correct side, you should see a lens that runs on a track
(there is no harm in moving the lens along the track but do not touch
the lens itself). Use a wet, soft cloth to clean the lens.

Sometimes a disc drive malfunctions because there is too much dust or
debris in it, so be sure to clean out the inside with either compressed
air, a soft cloth, or a cotton swab. Reassemble the disc drive, put it
back in the computer case, and cross your fingers. Hopefully, it will
work when you turn on the computer.

If these methods work, you just saved yourself some money. If not, you needed a better disc drive anyway.


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  1. samson271 says:

    Is this a joke? I just read on another link from Google that you must NEVER just wipe it with even soft cotton, this might scratch the lens. And never even think about using some kind of fluid on it, this might cause permanent damage! And his method 2 is totally beyond the pale! Of course, maybe they are wrong and this guy is correct, who knows!

    • Alan says:

      @samson271: Well, if you absolutely wanted to be "lab quality" then by all means obtain a professional swab and use ethyl alcohol (which is what professionals use on their camera CCDs). You are very unlikely to scratch the lens with cotton and alcohol, but even if you do, DVD drives are really cheap. You have nothing to lose, because you were going to trash the drive anyway.

  2. bajaboy says:

    This worked on my bluray. I soaked the lens good with denatured alcohol and q-tip, q-tipped dry and blew away any remaing fibers.

  3. twizttid13 says:

    Or you can buy a new one. They are like $20. But I guess that would take the fun out of it.

  4. miki says:

    Thanks for the tip,Ray,you saved me a lot of time!!

    I just used a simple bike pump to blow the dust off the lens-worked fine!!!

    A few good blows was all that was needed to dislodge the dust.

    Just stick into the opening after the drawer is open and go for it.

  5. sattar says:

    this also works on my writer
    thank you

  6. jun virola says:

    I used the Cleaning Stick method and it worked for me! Thanks!

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