Have you ever noticed those horrible scratches that seem to mysteriously appear on your CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray and video game disks, even though you take the necessary precautions to prevent them? Those scratches are called “particle abrasions” and are caused by tiny particles of dust and dirt that accumulate on your drive trays. Over time these particles can cut deep scratches into the surfaces of your compact disks and turn them into light reflecting table coasters.
So how does this happen?
During normal operation, a little motor inside the drive lifts your disks off of the drive trays and spins them at around 500 RPM. This is done to allow the laser to read and write data to and from the disks. Although the disks have very little contact with the tray during this phase of operation they still touch the tray while they are spinning. This happens during spin-up as the disks are being lifted from off of the tray and during spin-down as they are being placed back down onto the tray. CD/DVD ROM trays are made from materials that are designed not to scratch your compact disks, but that thin layer of dirt and dust between the two is like a grinding wheel at those speeds.
But don’t worry; there is a way to prevent this thanks to the help of the almighty cotton swab. Clean your drive trays by moistening a cotton swab with a little distilled water and wiping them down thoroughly. Use a fresh swab for each pass and make sure to get into those crevices that separate the full size disk tray from the mini-disk tray. Continue cleaning until the swabs come back clean and then use a few dry swabs to finish it all up. Do this with all of your media disk drives, including the ones in your computers, gaming consoles and home entertainment systems. You can also clean your disk storage cases using this method. Media storage sleeves can be cleaned with a lint free cloth dampened with distilled water. Just in case you are wandering why we use distilled water, it is because distilled water contains very little solid contaminants. Along with the usual precautions (keep your disks stored away neatly when not in use, keep them away from extreme temperatures and no fingers on the data sides), these simple cleaning techniques will ensure that your CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray and video game disks last for a lifetime.