How to Clean Dirty DVDs, Blu-Rays, and Video Games

Safely remove dirt and fingerprints without scratching

CD with bandaid, indicating that it's been scratched due to unsafe cleaning
FrankyDeMeyer / Getty Images

Even in this age of streaming, downloading, and constant internet connections, we still often turn to DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, and video games in disc format. These discs are vulnerable to dirt, dust, and fingerprints, causing inconsistent performance and even rendering them unable to play.

If you have a dirty DVD, CD, or another type of disc that needs to be cleaned, here's how to quickly and safely clean it and get it up and running again.

Microfiber and flannel cloth options work best in these disc-cleaning instructions.

How to Clean Your Disc

This method uses a soft cloth and white vinegar to get your disc working like new.

  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.

    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.

  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 off the disc with a dry cloth and allow it to dry completely.

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

Check for Deep Disc Scratches

If you've done a careful cleaning of the disc 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 or a CD repair kit.

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.

Amazon has a wide array of scratch removal kits to use with scratched discs.

Clean Your Player

If you don't see any scratches on the disc, the problem could be a dirty DVD/Blu-ray/video game player. Laser lens cleaners might solve the problem. These cleaners are actually discs with little built-in brushes that you put into your player. As it "plays," it cleans the laser that reads your discs.

Convert to Digital

If you're still having no luck with your disc, consider converting the media to digital format. Services such as Vudu 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, including your computer, smartphone, tablet, or even your TV.