Cleaning a CD player: 11 steps (with pictures)

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Cleaning a CD player: 11 steps (with pictures)
Cleaning a CD player: 11 steps (with pictures)

A dirty CD player can lead to poor sound quality or reading errors. Test with multiple CDs first to make sure the problem is the CD player and not a damaged CD. If your Windows computer fails to play CDs, you may have a software problem instead of a dirty CD player.


Method 1 of 2: Cleaning a CD player

Clean a CD Player Step 1

Step 1. Check if there is no CD in the CD player

If the CD player is open, unplug the power cord instead of turning off the CD player using the power button. This will leave the drawer open so you can access the slot.

Clean a CD Player Step 2

Step 2. Blow out dust with a hand-operated air blower

These rubber blowers are sold in camera stores and jewelry stores. Squeeze the balloon to gently blow dust out of the slot and/or tray.

An aerosol with compressed air is a risky alternative. Therefore, only use the spray with short sprays to avoid too much force, and first check whether the aerosol is completely dry. Some brands mix a little liquid with the air, which can destroy your CD player

Clean a CD Player Step 3

Step 3. Remove the lens hood

Assuming blowing the dust away didn't fix the problem, it's time to look at the lens. Unless you have a portable player, you must first unscrew the casing of the device. Once you have access to the tray that holds the CD, look for small hooks or screws that hold the plastic cover over the lens mount. Remove the screws or gently press the hooks with a small screwdriver. You should encounter a small, round lens on one side of the shaft, similar to the size of the camera lens on a phone.

This will probably void your warranty

Clean a CD Player Step 4

Step 4. Choose a lint-free cleaner

A clean microfiber cloth is the best choice. You can find these at stores that sell electronics or eyewear. Special swabs for cleaning electronics also work.

Only use cotton swabs as a last resort. While they often work fine, there is a risk of scratching the lens

Clean a CD Player Step 5

Step 5. Wipe the lens with a small amount of highly concentrated isopropyl alcohol

Use isopropyl alcohol with a concentration of at least 91% (and ideally 'reagent grade' 99.9%). More diluted alcohol can leave a haze on the lens. Slightly dampen the cloth without soaking it. Gently rub the cloth over the lens. Keep rubbing until the center of the lens is shiny and has a blue sheen. A light haze around the perimeter is usually not a problem.

  • You can use a lens cleaning solution instead of alcohol. Very occasionally you need deionized water to remove sugar-based residues.
  • Deep scratches on the lens may render the lens unusable. If the scratches are barely visible, they are not likely to be a problem.
Clean a CD Player Step 6

Step 6. Let everything dry before putting the case back

Wait a few minutes to prevent liquid alcohol from entering the mechanism. While waiting, you can use the air blower again to blow away dust inside the mechanism.

Avoid over-tightening the screws as this may crack the plastic housing

Clean a CD Player Step 7

Step 7. Try a lens cleaner CD

These CDs lightly brush the CD drive, removing the dust. In most cases, a lens cleaner CD is less effective than the above methods, and one of low quality can cause even more damage. Try this if nothing else works, or go to the next step if you want to try more complex repairs. Lens cleaner CDs usually run automatically, but check the product instructions first.

  • Do not use a lens cleaner CD with a combination CD and DVD player. Lens cleaner CDs made for CD players will scratch a DVD drive.
  • Check the product label for warnings before purchasing. Some drives are not compatible with some devices.
Clean a CD Player Step 8

Step 8. Consider more complicated repairs

If your CD player still doesn't work, you can try disassembling some more and looking at other parts. This is quite difficult, and you may need your device manual. If you are patient and technical, try the following:

  • Slowly turn the player upside down while looking at the lens. The lens should move up and down smoothly, without sticking or tilting. If the lens doesn't move properly, you may need to replace the entire part (or get a new CD player).
  • If possible, carefully remove the parts around the lens. If you can get to the revolving mirror (a small piece of glass), clean it the same way you cleaned the lens.
  • Look for a plastic gear attached to the laser mechanism. Rotate it slowly with a cotton swab, paying attention to the moving parts. If any of the parts appear dirty or tacky, clean them with alcohol and then apply a light coat of light electronic lubricant.

Method 2 of 2: Troubleshooting a Windows CD drive

Clean a CD Player Step 9

Step 1. Update the firmware of your CD player

You may need to update the firmware to fix a bug or to let your computer play new types of CDs. If you know who the manufacturer of your CD player is, visit the website and download the latest update. If the manufacturer is unknown, you can find it using one of these methods:

  • Look for a name on the front of your CD drive.
  • Search for a numeric code on the player, then search for it through this database.
  • Open Device Manager and double click on the items under 'DVD/CD-ROM drives'.
Clean a CD Player Step 10

Step 2. Use the built-in troubleshooter

On Windows 7 and newer versions, you can try to have your computer problems solved automatically:

  • Open Control Panel.
  • Type "troubleshooting" in the search engine in Control Panel. Click on 'troubleshooting' when it appears in the results.
  • Look under 'Hardware and Sound' and click 'Configure a device.' Select your CD-ROM drive and follow the on-screen instructions.
Clean a CD Player Step 11

Step 3. Reinstall the drive

Open the Device Manager and look for the entries under "DVD/CD-ROM drives." Right click on the device names and select 'uninstall.' Restart the computer to reinstall them. This probably works if there is an X or exclamation mark next to the name.

If no drives are listed, the drive cables are disconnected or the drive is broken and needs to be replaced


  • If using a cotton swab, tighten it tightly with a clean hand or with a glove. No lint should get on the lens.
  • If your player still doesn't work, take it to a repair shop or replace the player. Do not change the electrical system if you do not know what you are doing.


  • Never put your hands in anything that is plugged in! Even experienced technicians won't do this if they can avoid it.
  • Smoke residues can greatly shorten the life of your CD player. If possible, do not smoke in the same room as the player.
  • There is a very small risk that a malfunction will flip the laser while the player is open, and it will shine at your face and damage your eyes. (Even then this is unlikely to happen unless you keep your eye very close to it, or stare at it for a long time). If you want to be extra careful, hold a piece of paper over the lens in a dark room. When the laser is on, you will see a small red dot where it points.

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