How to Clean 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 for a clean DVD 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 it.

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. caucious

    June 29, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    If you follow these instructions and break your drive "you needed a better disc drive anyway". That's one of the stranger disclaimers I've read.


    June 19, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Tried the second on my machine it killed the lens the more

  3. Jason

    April 26, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    "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."

    That's very reassuring.

  4. sattar

    December 17, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    this also works on my writer
    thank you

  5. miki

    October 7, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    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.

  6. twizttid13

    June 20, 2011 at 9:45 pm

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

  7. bajaboy

    June 20, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    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.

  8. samson271

    June 20, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    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

      June 20, 2011 at 9:45 pm

      @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.

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