Do you have a few CDs or DVDs that “skip”, “stutter”, or “freeze” when you play them? Chances are the disc needs a simple cleaning to remedy that problem, but you don’t need to buy a disc cleaning kit if you take relatively good care of your discs.
By “relatively good” I mean you treat your discs almost as good as you would a vinyl disc or LP — for those of you who’ve ever had one.
People tend to think that modern digital discs are more durable, but they aren’t.
Proper Disc Care
Here are a few tips for safe handling and storage of your disks.
Storage: Store your discs in “jewel cases” instead of sleeves. Paper, fabric, and cardboard sleeves can make minor to small scratches in the disc’s surface. Dirt and dust can get into a sleeve and cause scratches. Quality jewel cases hold the disk off the case surface, thereby minimizing the risk of scratching.
Scratches make it difficult for the laser of a CD or DVD player to read the disc. Make sure your jewel cases have raised spindles to prevent the disc from touching the inside of the case.
Minimizing contact with the surface of the disc reduces the risk of scratching — even the label side. Scratching the label side of some less expensive discs can actually damage or remove the recording material underneath.
Handling: Always grab or hold a disk by its edges. Keep your fingers and other objects off the flat surfaces. When removing a disk from its case, use your thumb and middle finger to grab the edges, while your index finger can be used to press down on the spindle to release the disk.
No amount of good handling on your part is going to help you with a used or rented disk. I have yet rent a DVD that doesn’t have a dozen or more scratches, scuffs, and fingerprints on it.
Inspect the recording side of disk before playing to see if it needs cleaning. Marks and fingerprints on the shiny side of the disk will interfere with proper playback.
I often run water from the faucet over a disk’s surface, and then lightly dry off the disk with a clean facial tissue. Wipe the disk straight from the center to the edge. Be careful with inexpensive or home recorded disks with paper labels as the water may remove or smudge the label.
For a better method of cleaning the unprinted side of the disk, use a glass cleaner and a clean cloth like the ones used for cleaning eyeglasses. Though I’ve never tried it, I’ve heard some recommend to applying a little car wax to the disk with a soft clean cloth after cleaning. Let the wax dry, and then wipe it off.
Be aware, not all scratches or marks are removable, especially with old used disks. Always use a soft clean cloth or you’ll make scratches all your own.
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