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How to Clean a DVD Laser

written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: David Braun•updated: 6/30/2009

If you want to clean your DVD laser, look no further for your complete guide.

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    Lens Cleaning

    There are many ways to actually clean a DVD laser, but what’s the most efficient way that won’t cause any damage to the actual device? First, let me give you anecdotal evidence as to why you should clean your DVD laser.

    I bought an Xbox 360 about a year ago. The standard DVD drive was quite a trooper. It put up with at least 4-5 hours of daily usage during the summer and a few less in the fall. However, not long after Prince of Persia had come out in December, it started to die on a regular basis. “Can’t Read Disc" errors were becoming more and more frequent and I was worried I’d have to replace the whole box. In a last ditch effort, I cleaned the disc following the instructions I’m about to give you. Lo and behold, the drive worked for another 3 months before the laser finally died once and for all – and I was still able to only replace the disc drive for $50 rather than the whole thing.

    Now, let me preface by saying that this is an extremely delicate operation. If you don’t have steady hands, you could permanently damage the DVD drive:

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    The Steps

    1. Open your DVD player – yes, you’re about to destroy your warranty, but if your laser is not working properly, chances are you’d have to either replace the drive or just get another new DVD player.

    2. When opening the DVD player, locate the DVD drive

    3. With the actual drive located, remove the drive from inside the player and place it on a table or surface that’s clean.

    4. Proceed to open the DVD drive, this is a part you should be incredibly careful to do, because unbalancing the rotation mechanism or the belt would be catastrophic.

    5. With the DVD drive opened, carefully make sure to orient it so that the laser is facing towards the ceiling

    6. With the actual “eye" of the laser looking right at you, proceed to get a Q-Tip and a Bottle of standard, rubbing alcohol.

    7. Take the tip of the Q-Tip and delicately place it in the rubbing alcohol so that only a VERY small amount of rubbing alcohol is on the actual tip

    8. With the alcohol on the tip, rub the tip VERY GENTLY on the optical “eye" of the laser. Be careful not to push down on it.

    9. When you’ve done one or two passes, stop rubbing the “eye"

    10. At this point, work quickly so that you can close up the DVD drive without getting any dirt in there

    11. Close up the entire DVD so that it looks like it did before you started step 1.

    With the DVD closed, go ahead and plug everything back into it and test it out. If you were successful, you should be seeing the DVD play on your television. However, if even cleaning the disc fails to get you the results you’re looking for, chances are either the logic board has fried or the belt-system inside the player has been compromised. Either way, DVD players are rather cheap today, so it shouldn’t be a problem to find a good one for cheap – make sure to purchase one that allows you to play AVI codecs and WMV codecs, so that you can enjoy ripped DVDs as well as normal ones.

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