Maintaining the cleanliness of your video cassette recorder can be very important to keeping it running for years to come. As a recording medium, the VHS cassette tape has been on the decline for years... soon new tapes and machines to play them on may not be available at all, or if they are, then it will be through specialty sellers or online vendors. Because of this, it's important that you take the time now to learn how best to care for your VCR so that it will be operational for quite some time to come.
In order to clean your VCR completely, you need to both remove dust and clean the VCR heads (which are the parts of the VCR that read the magnetic tape contained within the VHS cassette.) To give your machine the thorough cleaning it needs, do the following:
- Before starting to clean the inside of the VCR, take the time to clean up the outside. Use electronics dusting spray or wipes, a feather or lamb's wool duster, or used dryer sheets (that have been through the dryer at least twice) to remove surface dust and any dust that may be visible on exhaust grates or other openings.
- Using a can of compressed air (often referred to as an "air duster" or "canned air"), begin blowing out loose dust from inside the cassette bay. Hold the bay door completely open (as though you were loading a new VHS tape), and spray the compressed air into the bay in several short bursts. This will help to loosen up any clinging dust, and subsequent bursts will blow them free of the VCR.
- After you've blown several short bursts of air into your VCR, add an additional slightly longer burst to remove any remaining dust. This burst should move quickly from side to side several times, and should last 3-5 seconds.
- Once you've finished with the compressed air, you should utilize a VCR head cleaner to finish your cleaning job. These head cleaners are shaped like standard VHS cassettes, but instead of having a magnetic tape inside they have a cleaning tape and a reservoir for cleaning solution which removes dirt from the VCR heads. Place a few drops of cleaning solution into the reservoir (as indicated by the package instructions) and then insert the head cleaner into the VCR. Allow it to play as though it were a standard VHS tape, for up to 60 seconds (or as indicated by the instructions).
- Eject the head cleaner once you've finished with it. Your VCR should now be well-cleaned inside, and you will likely notice a significant improvement in audio and picture quality. Regular cleaning (recommended after every 20-30 hours of use) can help to add years to the lives of both your VCR and any VHS tapes that you own.
By taking the time to clean your VCR and keep it in good working condition, you should be able to enjoy your favorite movies, home videos, and everything else in your VHS collection for years to come.