How to Erase VHS Tapes

By James Clark

You can erase old VHS tapes by purchasing a bulk eraser, also known as a video degausser, from an electronic store or through online retailers. These devices erase VHS recordings by passing an electromagnetic field over the VHS cassette, obliterating the magnetic recording. The downside to a degauuser is the price. Bulk erasers range from cheap $100 models to units that can cost thousands of dollars. A simpler and equally effective solution is to remove old content using a VCR or a camcorder.

Things You'll Need

  • Bulk eraser
  • VCR
  • Masking tape

Step 1

Use a hand-held bulk eraser by pulling the trigger button and passing the unit over both sides of the VHS cassette.

Step 2

Remove content from a prerecorded VHS tape by checking the recording tab on the front edge of the cassette. This is the first side that emerges from the VCR when the tape is ejected. On the left-hand side of the edge, there is a square cut-out with a small indentation in the cassette. Blank tapes have a plastic tab over this cut-out. If the cut-out is missing, the tape cannot be accidentally erased or recorded over.

Step 3

Place a small piece of masking tape over the cut-out hole.

Step 4

Insert the VHS cassette into a VCR or camcorder.

Step 5

Disconnect the audio/video output or record cables from the back of the VCR. This makes it impossible for any material to be recorded over the old content on the tape that you are about to erase.

Step 6

Press "Record" on the VCR and allow the tape to run to the end.

Step 7

Eject the blank cassette. The video can be re-recorded with new material or safely discarded.

Tips & Warnings

  • Test the tape to make sure it is blank by popping the cassette in a VCR and pressing Play. Fast-forward to the middle and the end as well, then play back for a few seconds to make sure there is no remaining content on the tape.