Clean or Dispose of Optical Storage Media (CD/DVD) - dummies

Clean or Dispose of Optical Storage Media (CD/DVD)

By Dan Gookin

If your CD or DVD is skipping or just not playing right, it may just need to be cleaned. If cleaning the disc doesn’t work, you may need to clean the drive. And if that doesn’t work, your disc is probably damaged and needs to be disposed of properly.

Clean an optical disc

Simply wipe the disc with a damp cloth. Wipe from the center outward; don’t wipe around the disc in a circle. If you have a special disc cleaning solution, use it in addition to any special disc cloth. The idea behind cleaning is to remove things that may interfere with the laser reading the disc but not scratch the disc by cleaning it.

When the disc is still unreadable by the optical drive and the drive refuses to read other discs, it’s time to clean the optical drive.

Clean an optical drive

To clean an optical drive requires an optical drive cleaning disc. They are not cheap, so try all the other troubleshooting techniques you can think of before making the investment. Nonetheless, they are cheaper than replacing the drive. If the problem is just dust, a quick spin of an optical drive cleaning disc can have the drive working flawlessly.

Optical disc disposal

Should you decide that the disc is damaged beyond repair, you can just throw it out, but check with your local refuse company to see whether optical discs have a special classification. If so, dispose of the discs according to the proper methods.

Never burn a disc. It gives off toxic fumes. The fumes are also present when you microwave a disc, in case that thought has ever crossed your mind.

The most secure way to dispose of an optical disc is to shred it. Many common paper shredders feature an optical disc slot (that can also be used to shred old credit cards). Use a shredder when you’re concerned about the disc contents landing in the wrong hands.