Video game consoles are often unable to recognize and read dirty game discs. Dust, lint, dirt and even fingerprints can get on video game discs and can cause system error. When cleaning a record, always use the gentler methods first, as the same treatments that can remove dirt and scratches can cause more damage if used more aggressively. If the game still doesn't work, patiently try heavier treatments one after the other. Cleaning the disc drive itself is also a good idea, especially if you're getting error messages with more than one game.
Method 1 of 3: Clean a video game disc with water
Step 1. Clean only when necessary
Clean the disc if you notice dirt or dust on the unprinted side or if your console or computer cannot read the disc. Frequent cleaning is unnecessary and increases the risk of scratching the disc.
Step 2. Find a soft, clean cloth
Always use a fine-textured cloth of a lint-free material, such as cotton or microfiber. Avoid raw materials such as tissues or paper towels.
Step 3. Dampen a small area of the cloth
Use normal tap water to dampen a small area of the cloth, then wring it out to remove excess water.
- Never use household cleaning products, which can destroy the disc.
- Disc repair products may be sold as "Scratch Repair" or "CD / DVD Repair" products.
Step 4. Hold the game disc by the edge
Do not place your fingers on the surface of the disc. Turn the game disc so that its unprinted, reflective side is facing you.
If the printed side is really dirty, you can use this same method, but be extremely careful, as wiping the printed side too vigorously can destroy the data on some game discs
Step 5. Clean the surface of the disc from the center outwards with the damp cloth
Gently wipe the record with the damp cloth, starting at the center hole and moving in a straight line, to the edge. Repeat this process until the entire disc has been cleaned.
Never move the cloth in circles around the disc, as this may damage it
Step 6. Repeat with the dry part
Wipe the same side of the disc a second time. This time, use the dry part of the cloth to remove the moisture. Be sure to use the same straight lines from the center to the outside of the disc. Dry wiping is more likely to scratch the disc than wet wiping, so be extremely careful during this step.
Step 7. Wait two minutes before testing it
Place the disc with the reflective side up. Wait at least two minutes to allow the remaining moisture to evaporate. Once the disc is completely dry, insert the disc into the drive of your game console or computer and check if the problem has been resolved.
If there are still problems, try the other methods below. If your other games don't work either, clean your disc drive
Method 2 of 3: Clean up a disk with other methods
Step 1. Understand the risk
Most game disc manufacturers recommend using only water, but this is not always going to be enough. These alternatives below are sorted with the safest methods at the top, increasing the risk as you go down the list. Always use gentle movements when cleaning to reduce the possibility of scratches.
Step 2. Mail your disc for repair
If you are not prepared to risk the damage, search the Internet for the mailing address of a disc repair service in your country. These departments may have polishing machines or cleaning products that are not commercially available.
Step 3. Clean off fingerprints and grease with rubbing alcohol
This method will not repair the scratches, but it should remove the grease stains. Apply a drop of isopropyl alcohol to a clean cloth and rub the disc from the center to the edge. Wipe off the moisture thoroughly with a dry cloth with the same movements, then leave it for two minutes, so that it is completely dry.
Since dry cloths can cause scratches, some record owners prefer to leave the record open for half an hour or more instead
Step 4. Purchase an aerosolized record cleaner
If the game still does not start, purchase "Disc Repair" aerosol spray and follow the package directions to clean the disc. It can be sold as a “CD / DVD Repair” or “Scratch Repair” product.
- Using a disc repair polishing machine or other machine that comes with the disc repair product is strongly discouraged, as they can cause damage.
- Always check the warnings to make sure the product is warranted for your type of disc.
Step 5. Use a non-whitening toothpaste without tartar control
Toothpaste is mildly abrasive and can polish scratches with low risk of causing more damage. For maximum safety, avoid toothpastes that whiten teeth and control tartar, as they tend to be more abrasive. Apply the toothpaste as you would water or alcohol, as described above.
The toothpaste should be in the form of a paste. Do not use gel, liquid or powder
Step 6. Select a sour liquid polish
If toothpaste doesn't work, you can try plastic polish, furniture polish, or metal polish. They are also mildly abrasive and because they are not intended for game discs there is a high chance of damage. Always check the ingredient list for “thinner,” “petroleum,” or petroleum products before using, as these can dissolve the CD and destroy it. If any product smells like kerosene or gasoline, do not use it.
Some people say that Brasso Metal Polish is effective, but it does contain a light polish remover. Use it at your own risk
Step 7. Use a clear wax
Deep scratches can be filled in by gently applying a clear wax, then buffing it with a clean, dry cloth in a straight line motion from the center outwards. 100% Carnauba wax or another clear product without petroleum is recommended.
Method 3 of 3: Clean up the disc drive
Step 1. Blow out the dust
Use a manual air bulb to gently blow the dust out of the reader. A compressed air bomb will also work, but it could cause damage with a delicate record player.
Always keep the canister upright when in use or the propellant may leak
Step 2. Purchase a laser lens cleaner
If your game console or computer won't play a brand new, scratch-free disc, you may need to clean or repair its disc drive. A laser lens cleaner will only remove dust, not grease or stuck-on dirt, but it's easy to use and worth a try. Generally, it is supplied in two parts: a disc which will be inserted in the player and a bottle of liquid to be poured on the disc beforehand.
Make sure the cleaner is designed for your type of drive, such as DVD player or PS3. Even using a CD drive cleaner on a DVD drive can damage it
Step 3. Clean the lens
If the above steps don't work and you don't want to take the drive to a professional repair shop, you will need to take the drive apart and clean the lens. If your device is still under warranty, you should be aware that this will likely negate any chance of getting a free replacement or repair from the manufacturer. If you are willing to take the risk, follow these steps.
- Turn off the device and unplug it.
- Disassemble the reader using a screwdriver. Some game console faceplates can be removed using the pressure of your fingers, but do not apply force unless your specific model manual recommends it. Continue disassembly until the entire drive and adjacent areas are visible.
- Look at the lens. It's a small glass object. Minor scratches shouldn't cause you any problems, but deep scratches might require professional treatment. More commonly, dust or dirt is the cause of the problems. In these cases, you can clean it:
- Soak a cotton ball or swab with 91% isopropyl alcohol. Gently wipe the objective lens. Allow to air dry before reassembling the player.
- Purchase a record cleaning kit from a specialty store.
- Sponge up any liquid immediately with a soft cloth. Do not rub or wipe off the liquid, as this may damage the surface of the disc.
- Keep your game discs in their original plastic box to keep them clean and safe.
- Remove the disc before moving your game console or computer, to avoid damaging it.
- Do not wipe the disc with your hands; it will only make the situation worse.
- Soap, solvents, or abrasive cleaners can cause permanent damage to your game discs.
- Do not use mechanical disc cleaners, as these devices can cause permanent damage to the surface of the game disc.
- Some discs store data just below the label. Do not clean the printed side if there is no obvious dirt on it and be extremely careful when doing this.
- Do not add tape or stickers to your disc.