The Safe Way to Clean Dirty DVDs, Blu-Rays, and Video Games

Remove dirt and fingerprints without scratching

CD with software patch
FrankyDeMeyer / Getty Images

Have a DVD, Blu-ray Disc, or video game that's too fingerprinted or dirty to play? Don't be too quick to toss it out. These simple instructions for cleaning DVDs and CDs should get it back on your playlist. All you need for this task is white vinegar and a couple of soft, clean cloths. Microfiber or flannel works well. In just a few minutes, you'll be able to pop your disc into the player and it will work like new.

How to Do It

  1. Hold the DVD, Blu-ray Disc, or CD by the edges or by placing your finger through the center hole.
  2. Wipe the disc with a cloth that has been dampened with white vinegar.
  3. Start at the center and wipe straight out to the edge of the disc to avoid damaging the disc.
  4. Rotate the disc and continue wiping in this manner until you've worked your way all the way around the disc.
  5. Wipe the disc off with a dry cloth and allow it to dry completely.

Why This Works

The acetic acid in vinegar cuts through the oils left behind by your fingers, as well as any other dirt and grime that might be on the disc.

Tips and Warnings

You should avoid wiping discs in a circular motion. Also, store them in their cases when you're not using them to keep them dust-free and avoid future damage.

If Your Disc Still Won't Play

If you've done a careful cleaning of the disc and it shines like new and still won't play, check to see if the disc has any deep scratches that you've overlooked. These can often be repaired with a bottle of scratch remover. Just rub the scratch remover solution on the scratch and wipe off the excess. One bottle is good for at least 100 discs, so if you have kids who are rough on their movies and video games, it's definitely money well spent.

If you don't see any scratches on the disc, the problem could be a dirty DVD/Blu-ray/video game player and not a dirty disc. Spend a few bucks on a laser lens cleaner. It's a disc with little built-in brushes that you pop into your player. As it "plays," it cleans the laser that reads your discs.

Still no luck after cleaning your disc and player? Don't throw that disc out just yet. Most movies can now be converted to digital format. Use a service like Vudu to turn that scratched movie disc into a digital copy that's stored on the cloud, and you'll be able to watch it anywhere, on any device — your computer, your smartphone, your tablet, or even your TV. Expect to pay a few dollars for each conversion, unless your DVD came with UltraViolet (that means there's already a free digital copy waiting for you).