How to clean a Macbook's DVD drive
January 15, 2011 11:56 AM   Subscribe

How do you clean a slot-loading DVD drive on a Macbook?

So, lately I've been having problems with my DVD player on my Macbook. While sometimes it will play, there will be occasions where I'll put a disc in, and I'll hear the whirring and everything, but nothing will happen and the computer ejects it. I am perfectly aware that this could be a hardware issue, but because the AppleCare on my computer ran out in August and also because I am unemployed and low on cash, I want to try all possible avenues before bringing it in for someone to look at.

Since I purchased the computer in mid-2007, I've never taken a DVD cleaner to it--with the fact that it's slot-loading, I didn't want to risk any damage, and so wasn't sure how to go about it. I also watch DVDs on this computer fairly frequently. But lately, I've been thinking that a cleaning maybe is not such a bad idea. Thing is, I'm still not sure how--I went to the Apple Store to see if they had anything, and a staff member (not a Genius) told me that a store like Best Buy would have them. But when I went online to look for specific suggestions, I got all sorts of mixed advice--some said not to use the kind with the tiny brushes because they could dislodge the lens, while others said they were fine. Some suggested using canned air, but I'm not sure how to position it, and I don't want to risk any damage.

So I'm completely at a loss. Any suggestions for cleaners? Would one with the tiny brushes be safe on a mid-2007 MB? Where would I buy them? (Bonus points if I can buy them in NYC tomorrow.)

Thanks so much in advance.
posted by bookwibble to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This happened to me, I used some air-in-a-can, and it fixed it.
posted by cmoj at 12:05 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Air-in-can. I just started at one and and gave short blasts until i got to the other end. You don't want to continually hold the trigger down because in some situations condensation may occur and the innards for Mac won't like that.

In my ancient PowerBook, it was failing very hard reading DVDs and sometimes they would get stuck. I had tried the DVD cleaner thing with the brushes. It didn't get stuck, but it didn't help either. In that case it, it was a dying player.

The air-in-a-can worked on my 2006 MacBook Pro just fine. On my 2008 MBP I haven't had problems but frankly, since Netflix streaming came around I'm only using the disc player a handfull of times a year.
posted by birdherder at 1:16 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

In the shop where I work, we've used the drive cleaning discs with the little brushes without any problem.

Apple says "don't use them":
Do not use discs that have anything attached to them or dangling from them (such as "sweeper" or cleaning discs).
so keep that in mind, but I don't think there's too much danger. (I'm a Mac tech.)

I've always been a bit wary of compressed air in slot-loading optical drives for some reason, but I think that's just superstition. Be gentle- there is considerable force at the end of that straw, especially at the beginning of a "squirt", and the parts inside the optical drive are very fragile. Don't force the straw anywhere or wiggle it around inside.
posted by aaronbeekay at 3:09 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just want to point out that Genius Bar diagnostics are free and can point you in the right direction.
posted by katybird at 6:13 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

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