Cleaning DVDs is an important step for optimum DVD playing and recording performance. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to clean DVDs.
One of the most common problems with DVDs is that they get dirty if not handled properly and if not properly stored.
DVDs should be stored in a clean regular size jewel case when not in use. A DVD disc should not be left out of its case and on a desk for example. This is a prime way of contaminating the disc with debris. To avoid getting fingerprints on the disc, do not touch the disc surfaces. Always grab the disc by the hub with your forefinger and the outer edge of the DVD with your thumb. The most common sources of dirt are particulate debris such as dust or greasy debris such as fingerprints. Both of these sources of contamination either separate or together can affect the playback performance of the disc. The proper recording of recordable and erasable media will also be affected if a DVD is dirty. Problems can range from localized errors to a DVD that will not play at all in situations where the digital video or digital versatile disc is more heavily soiled. Therefore, it is a good idea to clean a DVD prior to playing it or recording information on it.
Cleaning DVDs with Loose Debris on Surfaces
Loose debris on a DVD is usually dust but may include other sources of dirt. Cleaning DVDs with loose debris is best performed by using a compressed air duster. Gently spray the air over the base of the disc to remove the debris. The top or label side of the disc should be sprayed as well in order to avoid transferring the debris into the equipment when the disc is played.
As a second choice for cleaning DVDs, one can wipe the disc with a soft non-abrasive and non-scratching cloth. This is riskier than using compressed air because there is a chance of scratching the disc. The DVD disc should be wiped in a radial direction from the hub portion of the disc moving outwards towards the other portion of the disc. Do not clean the DVD by wiping in a circular direction as was usually done with old LP record albums. Cleaning DVDs by wiping in the circular direction is problematic because if a scratch occurs it will be circular. Circular scratches are more problematic for players to deal with than radial scratches.
The presence of fingerprints on DVDs is a very common problem. Fingerprints on the label side of the disc will not affect readability, but fingerprints on the base of the disc will interact with the laser light that reads or records the disc and create problems. Fingerprints can be removed with a soft cloth and wiping as described above. However, if the prints are very greasy then a soft non-abrasive cloth that is damp can be used. Alternatively, a damp soapy cloth (use dish washing liquid) can be used. The presence of the soap will do a more thorough job at removing the greasy debris. Finally, if the DVD is very greasy and dirty, then a wash in soapy water may be required with wiping. After the disc is cleaned, blot off the excess water with a lint-free soft cloth and let the disc air dry. It is best to wait a few hours before playing the digital video disc. Also, only immerse DVDs that do not show any signs of damage, otherwise separation of disc layers may occur. Finally, avoid wetting DVD discs with adhesive labels on the top surface of the disc.