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What Is the Best DIY Method for Cleaning a Car CD Player?

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CDs might be on their way out of fashion, yet there is nothing better than playing your favorite tunes while you drive down country roads! A dirty car CD player can be an annoying problem that can stop the fun. Luckily, cleaning it and getting it back to working is easy!

What is the best DIY method for cleaning a car CD player? Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Equip yourself with an old clean CD, a cloth strip, and glue. 
  2. Create lines of glue on the CD and attach the cloth cuts. 
  3. After the glue dries, insert the CD in the player as you would do with a standard disc. 
  4. The player will reject it after a couple of seconds, so keep re-inserting it for at least six times. 
  5. The strips attached to the CD will clean the internal lens of the player. 

Sounds easy, right? Now let’s see the details of this process. Don’t miss out on some tips and tricks that can help you keep your car CD player in its best shape!

What You Need to Clean a Car CD Player

If your car CD player stops working unexpectedly, the first thing that comes to mind is to bring your vehicle to the mechanic to get it fixed. While this is, of course, a viable option, you can easily avoid paying for expensive maintenance. 

Most of the problems related to a car CD player derive from dirt or dust build-up. No matter the effort you put in keeping your car clean, there will always be particles flying around! Here is what you need to fix your player at home without facing large expenditures!

An old CD

First off, you need an old CD. A burner CD or one that you don’t listen to anymore are great choices. In any case, you should ensure that the surface is perfectly clean and free of debris. After using it to clean your player, the CD used won’t be suitable for playing anymore. 

A lint-free cleaner cloth

The cleaning cloth you pick should be new and clean. Any stain, grease, and dust on the fabric might end up inside the player, making the situation worse. Instead, opt for an unused microfiber cloth that is lint-free for this job. Another viable option, yet often more expensive, is a special swab for cleaning electronics.

Strong industrial glue

Liquid glue is a perfectly suitable option. However, if the cloth becomes loose and detaches from the cleaner CD, it might damage the interior of your CD player. To avoid such issues, opt for a robust and industrial-grade glue. 

Scissors

Lastly, you’ll need a pair of scissors. You don’t need anything fancy, anything old pair that’s decently sharp should do the trick. 

How to Clean a Car CD Player Step-By-Step

1. Check that the problem is not related to the CD

While it might sound obvious, it is always worth checking that the issue does not lie with a particular CD that you are trying to play. Examining it for scratches and dust build-ups and trying in other players can confirm that the problem regards your car’s player. 

As you proceed to clean the player, avoid using compressed air. While this tool used to be the go-to tool to clean portable CD players, it can cause more severe damage to the electronic parts. As it blows out cold air, it can freeze or break delicate mechanisms that are essential to the functioning of the player. Instead, read below how to clean it safely!

2. Cut the cloth into strips

Start by selecting an unused lint-free cloth that is entirely spotless. Use the scissors to cut at least two pieces out of it. Each strip should have the same length as the distance between the central hole of the CD and its outer edge. 

In standard audio CDs, this distance, which coincides with the one between the lead-in and lead-out edge, is around 52mm. Each strip should also be ¼ of one inch or 60 millimeters wide.

3. Attach the cloth strip

Apply the glue through its precision dispenser and create straight lines that connect the lead-in edge to the outer edge of the CD. In the meanwhile, fold each strip lengthwise. As soon as each glue line is ready, attach the folded pieces and hold them against the cd surface for a second.

As you release the pressure, you should notice that half of each strip (lengthwise) is now attached to the CD, while the other one is not. This side of the piece should remain unglued and will be the one cleaning the player lens. Each half should be equal and ⅛ of one inch (or 30 millimeters) wide.

4. Make sure the glue is dry

Allow the glue to dry thoroughly. This step might be a little time consuming, but it is essential to preserve the functioning of your CD player.  

5. Play your Cleaner CD!

Your cleaner CD should now have at least two strips of lint-free cloth attached to its surface, half of which glued to the CD and half loose. Insert this Cleaner CD in the player and play it usually, as you would for any other CD. Remember to keep the strips facing upwards. Due to the pieces, the player will probably reject the CD after only one or two seconds. 

6. Repeat 

Since your cleaner CD only had limited time in the player, repeat Step 5 at least six or seven times to allow the strips to brush the player lens multiple times. This method will remove any dust or debris build-up.

Tips

  • Don’t use cotton balls or swabs – even if they might be just as soft and sterile, they cannot replace a microfiber cloth. Moreover, they tend to leave small flakes and pieces behind, which might end up plugging your CD player. 
  • Make sure the glue is dry before cleaning the player – as we have seen, you should opt for industrial-grade, secure adhesive that will ensure the strips stick to the CD for the whole procedure. However, checking that the glue is dry before inserting the Cleaner CD in the player is just as essential. Indeed, if the adhesive is not dry enough, it will melt in the player creating irreparable damage. Even worse, the pieces of cloth can free themselves from the CD and obstruct the internal mechanisms of the player.
  • Spray the lint-free cloths with lens cleaning water – this substance is a professional cleaning product designed to get electronics in their best shape. However, you should not dip the strips in it but only moist them slightly for the best results.
  • Two strips are enough! – of course, you want to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, adding several cloth pieces across your Cleaner Cd can have many counterproductive effects. Due to the high number of cloth strips, the player might reject it immediately or even not accept it all, preventing yours from cleaning it. 
  • Ensure that the cloth strips are clean and not too long – as we have seen, it is essential that the cloth used is perfectly clean to be effective. Additionally, you should make sure that the strips are not longer than the CD and don’t hang out of its edges. Inserting a CD with such pieces can end up damaging the player.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning the interior of a car CD player is easy and can be done extremely cheaply. Everything you need is clean microfiber cloth, scissors, glue, and an old CD. After attaching the cloth strips to the Cleaner CD, play it usually in the player and repeat a few times until thoroughly clean. 

This process might not be the most effective one for every car player, but it is incredibly safe. Compressed air sprays and chemicals can easily damage the most delicate parts of your player.

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