Game consoles are often unable to recognize and read a game disc that is not clean. Dust, lint, dirt, and even fingerprints that find their way onto game discs can cause a system error. When cleaning discs, always use the most gentle methods first, because the same treatments that can remove dirt and scratches themselves cause more damage if used too aggressively. If the game still doesn't work, patiently try the more strenuous treatments. Cleaning the disk drive itself is also a good idea, especially if you're getting error messages with more than one game.
Method 1 of 3: Cleaning a game disc with water
Step 1. Clean the disc only when necessary
Clean the disc if you notice dirt or dust on the unlabeled 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. Take a soft, clean cloth
Always use a lint-free cloth with a smooth texture, such as cotton or microfiber. Avoid rough materials such as facial tissues or paper towels.
Step 3. Dampen a small area of the cloth
Use plain tap water to wet a small portion of the cloth and squeeze to remove excess water.
- Never use household cleaners as they may damage the disc.
- You may come across disc repair products labeled "Repair Scratches" or "Repair CD/DVD."
Step 4. Hold the game disc by the edge
Do not let your fingers touch the surface of the disc. Turn the game disc so that the unlabeled, reflective side is facing you.
If the labeled side is obviously dirty, you can use the same method - but be very careful, as rubbing the labeled side too vigorously can destroy the data on some game discs
Step 5. Wipe the surface of the disc from the center out with the wet cloth
Gently wipe the disc from the center hole with the wet cloth, moving in a short, straight line to the edge. Repeat until the entire disc is wiped clean.
Never move the cloth in circles around the disc, as this may damage the disc
Step 6. Repeat with the dry part of the cloth
Wipe the same side of the disc again. This time, use the dry part of the cloth to remove moisture. Make sure to wipe in the same straight line again from the center of the disc outwards. Dry wiping is more likely to scratch the disc, so be extra careful during this step.
Step 7. Wait two minutes before testing the disk
Place the disc in a safe place with the reflective side up. Wait at least two minutes for the remaining moisture to evaporate. Once the disc is completely dry, insert the disc into the CD-ROM drive of your game console or computer and check if the problem is solved.
If you still encounter problems, try the other methods below. If other games don't work either, clean the CD-ROM drive
Method 2 of 3: Cleaning a disc using other methods
Step 1. Understand the risk
Most game disc manufacturers don't recommend using anything other than water, but that isn't always enough to clean the disc. The alternatives listed below start with the safest method and get more risky as the list goes on. Always use gentle movements when cleaning to reduce the risk of scratches.
Step 2. Mail your disk to a repair service
To avoid the risk of damage, search online for a repair service in your country where you can mail the disc to. These services may have sprayers or cleaning products that are not commercially available.
Step 3. Remove fingerprints and grease with rubbing alcohol
This method will not repair scratches, but it can remove grease stains. Apply some isopropyl alcohol to a clean cloth and wipe the disc from the center to the edge. Carefully wipe off excess moisture with a dry cloth using the same motion, then wait two minutes for the disc to dry completely.
Because dry cloths can scratch, some people prefer to let their CD/DVD air dry for half an hour (or more)
Step 4. Purchase a special spray to clean the disc
If the game still won't start, purchase a disk repair spray and follow the instructions on the package to clean the CD/DVD. This may be sold as a product under the label 'CD/DVD repair' or 'scratch repair'.
- The use of a disk repair buffing wheel or any other device provided with the disk repair product is strongly discouraged as they may cause damage.
- Always check the warnings on the packaging to make sure the product is safe for your type of drive.
Step 5. Use a toothpaste that does not whiten or is designed to remove tartar
Toothpaste is abrasive, and can abrade scratches with a small risk of causing more damage. For maximum safety, avoid toothpastes that bleach or remove tartar as they are more abrasive. Apply the toothpaste as you would with water or rubbing alcohol, as described above.
The toothpaste should be in a paste shape. Do not use gel, liquid or powder
Step 6. Choose a safe polish
If toothpaste doesn't work, try a plastic, furniture, or metal polish. These are also slightly abrasive, but because they are not intended for game discs, the risk of damage is higher. Always check the ingredients list for 'solvents', 'petroleum' or petroleum products before using as they can dissolve and destroy the disc. If it smells like kerosene or gasoline, don't use it.
Some people report that Brasso metal polish is effective, but it contains a mild solvent. Use is at your own risk
Step 7. Use a clear wax
Deep scratches can be filled in by gently applying a clear wax and buffing with a clean, dry cloth in straight lines from the center out. 100% Carnauba wax or other non-petroleum based clear product is preferred.
Method 3 of 3: Cleaning disk drives
Step 1. Blow away dust
Use a manual air pump to gently blow dust out of the station. An aerosol can of compressed air will also work, but can cause damage to sensitive stations.
Always keep the aerosol upright during use, otherwise the propellant may leak
Step 2. Purchase a laser lens cleaner
If the game console or computer won't play a brand new, scratch-free disc, you may need to repair or clean the disc drive. A laser lens cleaner only removes dust, not grease or caked-on grime, but it's easy to use and worth a try. Usually this comes in two parts: a disc to be placed in the drive and a bottle of liquid to pre-drip onto the cleaning disc.
Make sure the cleaner is designed for your type of player, such as a DVD drive or PS3. Even a CD drive cleaner can damage a DVD drive
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 service, you'll need to disassemble the drive and clean the lens. If the device is still under warranty, keep in mind that this negates any chance of getting a replacement or free repair from the manufacturer. If you're willing to take this risk, here's how:
- Turn off the device and disconnect the power supply.
- Remove the disk with a screwdriver. Some game console bezels can be removed with your fingers, but do not apply force unless your specific model's manual recommends it. Continue to disassemble until the entire circular drive and surrounding portion of the device are visible.
- Look at the lens. This is a small, glass object. Minor scratches should not be a problem, but deep scratches may require professional treatment. Usually the problem will be caused by dust or dirt, in which case you can clean the head:
- Dampen a cotton or foam cloth with 91%+ isopropyl alcohol. Gently wipe the lens. Allow the lens to air dry before reassembling the drive.
- Immediately blot spilled liquid with a soft cloth. Do not wipe off the liquid as this may cause damage to the surface of the disc.
- Store your game discs in their original plastic cases to keep them clean and protected.
- Remove the disc before moving the game console or computer to avoid damage.
- Do not wipe the disc with your hands; that just makes the problem 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 the data just below the label. Unless it is clearly dirty, do not clean the label side, in which case be extremely careful.
- Do not put tape or stickers on your discs.