DVD players use lasers to read bits of data from the disk, then translate the binary code into music, video and other data components. Since there is no physical contact between the DVD player and the disk, the player cannot scratch the disks during playback. The opportunity for scratching the disk is more likely to occur during loading or changing disks, because that is when the disk is being physically manipulated.
Single Disk Players
Most scratches on the surface of a DVD are caused by handling the disk. If you simply slide the DVD around on the spindle until it falls into place, you are taking a chance on scratching the disk. To avoid this, always make certain to line up the central hole in the DVD with the player spindle, pressing the disk down and locking it in place.
Multiple disk changers introduce even more opportunity for scratching the disks. Players which include multiple loading bays are not the concern, but stacked players which operate similar to a jukebox are. With each change of the disks there is a possibility of minor rubbing and scratching between the loading mechanism, the spindle and the DVD itself. This type of player is designed for minimal contact to avoid marring the disk, but the danger cannot be completely eliminated.
Handling a DVD
Handling the disks is the most common way of scratching them. Touching the surface can cause minor scratches as well as introducing oils and other contaminants to the disk surface. To minimize the hazard, always grasp a DVD by placing your fingers on the outer edge of the disk rather than touching the flat surface. Carefully handling the DVD will extend the life of the disk. Exposure to cigarette smoke will not scratch the disk, but it has the potential to cloud the disk surface and make it unreadable.
Cleaning a DVD
Even with careful handling, a DVD is subject to collecting dust and grit over time. These tiny particles in turn cause scratches which could ruin the disk. To minimize this effect, clean your DVD each time you use it by wiping it with a clean, soft cloth. If the surface is contaminated with sticky substances or oils, add a few drops of rubbing alcohol to the cloth. Do not use chemical cleaners or substances such as nail polish remover, as they have the potential to warp, melt or otherwise alter the DVD surface.
Do not stack DVDs on top of each other. If you are not able to place each DVD into a single disk case, place wax paper or cheesecloth between each disk as you stack them. Keep in mind that sliding disks together is almost certain to cause scratching of the disks. Do not leave disks lying around unprotected, as doing so provides ample opportunity for disk scratching to occur.
- Photo Credit Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images