How to destroy VHS tapes

Written by ariel phillips
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How to destroy VHS tapes
Declutter by getting rid of all those bulky old VHS tapes. (Rafael_Neddermeyer/iStock/Getty Images)

Whether films, TV programmes or old home recordings, watching VHS tapes is generally no longer a practical option -- most people don't have a VHS player in their homes anymore. If you find that your old VHS tapes are just taking up space and gathering dust, there are a variety of ways to get rid of them. And if they contain footage you don't want anyone else to see, you can destroy them without too much trouble.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • VHS tapes
  • Microwave
  • Paint stripping liquid
  • Hammer
  • Gas and match
  • Drill

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  1. 1

    Decide how you'd like to destroy the tapes based on convenience, availability and preference. One method is to microwave the tape for 35 to 60 seconds. This won't cause your microwave any harm, but it will melt the plastic parts of the VHS so it won't play anymore; however, the actual tape will probably remain mostly intact. If you want to destroy the tape cartridge, eliminating any chance of it ever being viewed again then you're better off removing the tape from the VHS cartridge and putting it into a toxic solution such as paint stripping liquid. You can also cover it in petrol and burn it -- however, VHS tape is extremely flammable, so use extra caution when trying this. In any case you'll want to be in an open and well-ventilated area when trying either of these options as to avoid inhaling toxic fumes. Burn the tapes in a metal incinerator and wear a face mask.

  2. 2

    If you want to avoid fumes and potential danger, take the tapes outside, put them in a plastic bag and pound them with a hammer. However, this is messy and might feel a little silly. The more professional and efficient option is to drill a hole right through the tape. Make sure the tape is rewound and place it on its edge with the left side up. Drill a hole through the tape to the centre of the reel. This can be done to multiple tapes by holding them together with a clamp and then drilling through them all one after the other.

  3. 3

    Reuse your old VHS tapes if you aren't set on destroying them. If you have VHS tapes that you just don't want and don't contain material other people can't see, then you might want to consider making them available for reuse. If you have tapes that feature cartoons, films or TV shows, you could donate them to your local children's hospital video library. If this sounds a little ambitious, you could also just drop them off at a local charity shop. And if you think someone might even pay you for your old VHS tapes, you could try selling them on eBay or Craigslist. If you have certain themes such as "Star Trek" or "Doctor Who" then you might try bundling the tapes into groups when you try to sell them, which should sweeten the deal a bit for potential buyers.

  4. 4

    Recycle your old VHS tapes. Again, if you don't necessarily need to destroy the footage on your VHS tape, you can recycle them in an environmentally friendly manner by taking them to a local council household recycling centre.

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