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.
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.