CDs can be very susceptible to a number of contaminants that can cause skipping, audio distortion and other playback issues. The good news is that oftentimes, these contaminants can be removed with a few common household products and some basic cleaning techniques.
The first step is to locate any smudges or scratches on the disc surface. While a single scratch from center to rim usually does not affect performance, any deeper scratches may require further action. Once the smudges and scratches are identified, it is best to clean the entire CD as opposed to the affected area alone.
Once the CD is clean, it should be returned to its jewel case or plastic protector. To help prevent future scratches, always handle a CD with a soft cloth and be sure to wipe it from center to rim before and after each use. Also, be sure to store CDs in their cases whenever possible, as dust can cause permanent damage.
A few common household cleaners can usually do the trick when it comes to removing surface dirt and smudges. These products are typically non-abrasive and won’t harm the disc or its coating. They may leave behind a slightly sticky residue, but that is easily solved with the application of a bit of alcohol. For more stubborn stains, you may wish to try rubbing alcohol or a commercial CD cleaning solvent.
To keep a CD or DVD looking and performing its best, it is recommended to wipe it with a mild soap solution on a soft cloth before rinsing. This method will remove most stains, and it is particularly effective on dust and grease.
If a CD has a more serious scratch, you can usually repair it by using metal polish or toothpaste. To use metal polish, apply a small amount to a cloth and rub in a circular motion until the scratch is no longer visible. Toothpaste can be a more economical option, but it is not as effective in repairing deep scratches.
A good alternative to traditional CD polish is carnauba wax, which is strong and made from plants, making it a much safer choice for your discs. It can not only fill in current deep scratches, but it will repel any further dirt or debris from scratching your CDs in the future.
Another great and unusual home remedy for a scratched CD is peanut butter. Apparently, this product can actually fill in minor scratches and leave the disc with a new-looking sheen. However, it is not recommended for severely damaged discs as it may not be able to completely fix them. A professional scratch removal service is probably the best way to get a severely damaged CD or DVD back into perfect condition. Alternatively, you can purchase an optically clear, scratch-resistant coating spray specifically designed for CDs and DVDs at most major electronics stores. It is an inexpensive and convenient way to make your favorite discs look and play like new!