How to Clean VCR Heads

By Techwalla Electronics Editor

If you rent videotapes, there's a chance you'll get one that's been around the block a few too many times and leaves an oxide mess on your VCR's tape heads. The result is a snowy picture or--if your VCR has a video-mute feature--a plain blue screen, which is less interesting than at least half the shows on TV.

Things You'll Need

  • Head-cleaning Tape
  • New Blank Videotape

Step 1

Play a new blank tape in your VCR. Most of the time this works to clean the heads and keep them from flaking additional oxide.

Step 2

After an hour, remove the clean tape and try the VCR.

Step 3

If the heads still aren't clean, try using a special head-cleaning tape (available at electronics stores). Buy one that uses a cleaning fluid; dry cleansers are more likely to damage the VCR heads.

Step 4

To keep your heads clean longer, check rental tapes for obvious signs of damage before putting them in your VCR, and fast-forward past the first few minutes of any rental tape, which is where damage is most likely to occur.

Tips & Warnings

  • Fast-forward and rewind your own tapes every two years to prevent sticking and potential flaking of oxide.