How to Clean Video Games and Video Game Consoles

By: Chris Obenschain

This is definitely the kind of moment when you don't want your game system to malfunction. See more video game system pictures.
This is definitely the kind of moment when you don't want your game system to malfunction. See more video game system pictures.
Stockbyte/Thinkstock

It's happened to every gamer. You're in the middle of a boss fight, one battle away from leveling up or about to save the princess when the game crashes. It could be a disc-read error, or your system may have overheated. But chances are if you had cleaned your console regularly, you'd be pumping your pixilated fists in video game glory instead of staring at a frozen screen.

Fortunately, it's easy to prevent such mishaps -- all you have to do is keep your system clean. If that sounds more frightening than facing the most brutal final boss, don't worry. We'll give you game-saving tips for beating everything from damaged discs to dirty vents.

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Check out the next page to find out which oral hygiene product is like an invincibility code for all your scratched-up games.

How to Clean a Video Game Disc

Gone are the days of blowing into a cartridge to clean your games. Depending on what systems you own, you'll be caring for and cleaning games that are burned onto DVDs or Blu-rays (and if you like vintage gaming, perhaps even some old-school CDs). Luckily, the cleaning process is the same for all disc-based games. However, there's some disagreement about the best technique to clean your discs. A quick Internet search will give you countless methods and variations for game cleaning, but not all of them are going to work. In fact, some Internet solutions (such as the banana-cleaning method) usually make the situation worse and will turn a game that skips occasionally into an unplayable piece of plastic trash. Therefore, if the only boss you can't get past is dirt on your discs, try following the manufacturer's guidelines to get back into the game.

Most instruction manuals and console manufactures will tell you to clean your games with a clean, lint-free, soft, dry or slightly damp cloth and wipe in straight lines from the disc's center to its outer edge. Don't wipe in circles: That's how the discs are read, and doing so could cause further damage. Also, be sure to hold onto the outer edges of the video game disc as you clean -- grasping it any other way will just add fingerprint smudges to your already smeared or scratched-up disc.

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This cleaning method will buff out smudges and some small scratches, but if your game is badly damaged, you're going to have to break out the big guns. In this case, that's toothpaste.

Yes, you heard that right -- we said toothpaste. Cleaning your scratched game with toothpaste is a long-standing Internet rumor that actually works … if you do it right! First, squeeze a moderate amount of toothpaste (a little more than you'd place onto your toothbrush) and evenly rub it onto the disc in straight lines from the center to the edge. (Remember what we said about forgoing circular wiping motions?). Leave on the paste for about five minutes or so, then off wash the disc with warm water until all the solution has been removed. Dry off your game with a clean, soft cloth, and you should be back in front of the TV, controller in hand, in no time. Of course, this technique isn't foolproof, and extremely deep scratches may be unbeatable and force you to restart with another copy of the game.

You can also always pick up a specialized disc-cleaning tool or machine. There are numerous products out there on the market, but the truth is that if damp cloths and toothpaste didn't work for you, these products probably won't, either.

How to Clean a Video Game System

Keeping the game console and the table it sits on dust-free will help your system work smoothly.
Keeping the game console and the table it sits on dust-free will help your system work smoothly.
Adam Gault/Thinkstock

They may be high-tech machines, but video game consoles are much easier to clean than the plastic discs they play. Bonus: No oral hygiene products are required to clean your game system! Regardless of which system you own, there are just three parts you have to worry about: the lens, the vents and the casing of the console itself.

The lens is every console's most delicate and temperamental component, as small flecks of dirt, dust or anything else can obscure the lens and degrade picture quality, hamper performance and even make your system unplayable. There's no need to send your machine back to the manufacturer for cleaning; instead, there are a variety of lens cleaners on the market that use everything from brushes to air to remove the dirt. These products will also work on any machine in your home that reads discs, from boom boxes to computers.

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Cleaning your console is even easier. Rub a dusting tool over the machine's vents to keep them free of dirt, dust and other particles. This will keep the vents in good working order.

You just need a dry cloth to remove excess grime from the console's casing. If your machine is in need of a more serious scrubbing, lightly spray glass cleaner onto the cloth before wiping off the system. Make sure your cloth isn't too wet, because if any liquid drips past the casing and into the machine, you'll be shopping for a new system before you pick up that controller again.

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Related Articles

  • Menga, Rich. "Does Toothpaste Truly Make a CD or DVD Work Again?" PCMech. Oct. 27, 2009. (Nov. 5, 2010).http://www.pcmech.com/article/does-toothpaste-truly-make-a-cd-or-dvd-work-again/
  • Nintendo. "Cleaning a Game Disc." 2010. (Nov. 5, 2010).http://www.nintendo.com/consumer/systems/wii/en_na/ts/gameDiscClean.jsp
  • --- "Wii Console General Maintenance." 2010. (Nov. 5, 2010).http://www.nintendo.com/consumer/systems/wii/en_na/ts/generalMaintenance.jsp
  • Xbox Support. "Care for your console and game discs." 2010. (Nov. 5, 2010).http://support.xbox.com/en-us/pages/xbox-360/how-to/care-maintain.aspx