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How To Clean Your VCR Heads


A How-To on cleaning your VCR tape heads, Head Drum, and other parts inside your VCR. WARNING: Read this entire page and refer to additional references at the bottom of the page before attempting this procedure.
Difficulty: Hard
Time Required: 30 Minutes

Here's How:

  1. Eject any tape from the VCR and unplug it from wall current.
  2. Unplug any other cables from VCR (Cable, Antenna, Audio/Video Cables, etc..).
  3. Place VCR on flat surface, such as a table covered with newspaper or cloth to protect table surface.
  4. With the appropriate screwdriver, remove VCR cover carefully.
  5. You will see a shiny round drum--this is the Head Drum. Take an isopropyl alcohol-dipped chamois tipped cleaning stick and place it on the Head Drum with light pressure.
  6. Manually rotate Head Drum with your free hand (it spins freely), keeping chamois stick stationary, allowing fluid to clean the drum (Never move the chamois stick in the vertical direction-you may snap off Head protrusions on the drum).
  7. With fresh chamois tips and alcohol, now clean the Stationary audio head, capstans, rollers, and gears. Check for dust. Do not get excessive fluid on any parts.
  8. Clean Belts and Pulleys using fresh chamois tips, once again, do not use excessive fluid.
  9. Clean dust off Circuit Boards using a mini-vacuum cleaner and/or compressed air (Use just enough force to remove the dust and dirt).
  10. Let machine site a few minutes after finishing above process.
  11. With the VCR still open, plug into wall and TV, turn on VCR and insert a recorded tape. (Do not touch any of the interior workings of the VCR or interior metal cabinet during this process).
  12. Press Play on VCR and confirm that everything is functioning correctly and picture and sound is restored.
  13. Repeat steps 1-10 if results are not satisfactory.
  14. Eject tape, Unplug VCR from wall, uplug all cables.
  15. Screw VCR cover back on and place back in original location with proper hookups.


  1. Do not perform the above procedure if your VCR is still covered by Warranty or Extended Service Plan. Take unit to authorized technician instead.
  2. Make sure you have all the proper screwdriver(s), chamois, cleaning solution, etc... before starting Step One of this process. DO NOT USE Q-TIPS.
  3. Your Guide is not responsible for any damage to your VCR involving any steps in this process. If you have doubts about your skill after opening the cabinet, do not go forward. For more extensive information, check the resources below.
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