I notice some of my favourite CD and DVD have some mold on them. How do I go about to clean them so that I can still play them?

  • I know this is an old question, but I am personally highly doubtful that a CD or DVD would have mold on them. Sounds more like bit rot caused by cheap media. It would help to see pictures of the “mold” on the media or at least know if the media is a pressed CD or DVD or rather burned media like CD-Rs or DVD-Rs. Aug 24 '18 at 15:58
  • Actually, it is very common. At least where I live (Sydney, Australia). I collect retro video games (discs) and I estimate 30 - 40% are affected with mould on the data side of the disc surface. We also get mould growing on camera lenses. I read somewhere a while back the conditions here are great for mould?
    – Kerry7777
    Apr 18 '19 at 6:06

DVD and CD are made of Polycarbonate, usually indicated as #7 on resin code (recycling symbol).

According to this answer:

... polycarbonate, which is not very soluble in ethanol or isopropanol, but prolonged exposure may cause crazing or stiffening.

That answer also mentioned that

Most plastics and rubbers are resistant to aqueous solutions and ionic compounds (including most surfactants and soaps)

Soap is not ideal as it is a fat based product, and can leave residue.

Detergent (a type of surfactants) is probably better, but as its chemical compond can vary a lot, it is difficult to say here.

It is safer to use distilled water first, and dry it with microfiber cloth.

There are also cleaning kits available, which I assume includes some kind of safe surfactant spray.

  • 2
    Cleaning kits usually use isopropanol. Which is perfectly safe for CDs.
    – Bob
    Mar 2 '18 at 6:05

UPDATED - 11 October 2020

I have found dishwashing liquid is a better cleaning agent with less chemical fumes (compared to mould remover). It's also widely available and cheap.

Step 1.

Identify that the disc has mould growing on the surface (usually the data side). Look closely.

Disc with mouldy surface

Step 2.

Wash your hands with soap to remove excess hand grease and any particles that may cause scratching.

Step 3.

If you have a few discs to clean (3/4 at a time), arrange them near a sink with some clear bench area. You may want to use an old towel to rest them on. Grab some dishwashing liquid.

Step 4.

Run water slowly over the disc data side up. The water beeds on the disc surface holding it horizontal. Drip one or two drops of dishwashing liquid onto one of the beads of water.

Step 5.

Move the liquid around a little with your finger and then carefully add a small amount of water. Rub the disc gently with your thumb(s) in an outward circular motion for 5 - 15 seconds rotating the disc for even coverage. Do the same for the other side.

Cleaning disc surface (note: this photo (chemical spray) is from a previous answer.)

Step 6.

Rinse the disc clean holding the disc between thumb and forefinger. Flick the excess water off and check the mould has been removed. If not, repeat the clean. Shake off as much water as possible.

enter image description here

Step 7.

Prepare some pieces of clean paper towel with as little amount of dusty fibres as possible. Arrange 3 drying phases of 2 pieces folded (in sequence) and a drying final resting piece. Push the disc down flat on the first phase with an additional piece of paper towel, move it to the second phase repeat and then the third phase. If the disc still has microdots of water rotate the disc in the air (not rotating while touching the paper towel) and repeat. Then leave on the resting piece. Confirm the mould is gone and the disc is OK.

Paper towel phases to remove water from disc

Drying disc

enter image description here

  • "The water is quick to run off but it just used to dilute the bleach." - what bleach? Your pet is quite confusing. Apr 17 '19 at 13:54
  • I should make a YouTube clip of my hillbilly cleaning technique and post the link here.
    – Kerry7777
    Apr 18 '19 at 6:08
  • This site is not a good fit for posting YouTube videos, as posts should be self - containing. Instead please read again your post and try to make it more clear. Apr 18 '19 at 6:20
  • Maybe some photos will help? I thought the written description was OK divided into the three sections. Your issue is with the first sentence?
    – Kerry7777
    Apr 18 '19 at 6:49
  • My issue is logic in your description. Your wrote need to dilute bleach, but it's not stated when and how bleach is applied. There are other similar issues too. Apr 18 '19 at 8:30

You mention mold, therefore I recommend using something like a mild solution of borax, which you can find in the laundry section of a grocery store. Probably under the brand-name "Twenty Mule Team," is a definitive way to eliminate and to prevent mold and fungus. Apply it to the surface and let it dry. Apply it also, using a light sprayer, to the insides of the sleeves and, once again, let it dry completely.

It's quite amazing to see what "lil' ol borax" actually does to the molecular structure of these organisms. One writer said, "it looks like a nuclear explosion hit it." (Other things that you might think to try, like bleach, don't even come close.)

I'd also suggest to make copies of the disks that show signs of damage due to the mold. If the disks are from different manufacturers and all / most the disks with the mold are of the same type, copy everything from the disks from this manufacturer to new disks.

To prevent this in the future keep your CD/DVD's in a case or a plastic wallet.

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