How to Clean Tape Deck Heads

Written by brenda priddy
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How to Clean Tape Deck Heads
Every so often, tape deck heads require cleaning. (cassette image by Marek Kosmal from

Tape players are not designed to operate for more than 20 or 30 hours without a cleaning. After this time, the tape deck heads can become clogged with dirt and oil, which decreases the play quality of the tapes. Excess dirt on the tape deck heads can also increase the chances that the tape film will come out and become ruined. Fortunately, cleaning the tape deck heads of any tape player is easy.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Tape player
  • Q-tips
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Tape cleaning solution
  • Dry cleaning tapes
  • Wet cleaning tapes

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    Commercial Tape Cleaner

  1. 1

    Purchase some cleaning tapes (dry or wet types) from an electronic store. Dry tapes work by having an adhesive layer that attracts the dirt from the head to the tape. The wet method works more traditionally. Moisture from the tape rubs onto the deck heads, which loosens the dirt and makes it stick to the tape. Either method should work equally well.

  2. 2

    Open the tape deck and remove any tape currently inside the deck. . Do not unplug the tape player if you are using a store-bought tape cleaner.

  3. 3

    Read and follow all directions on the package of the cleaning tapes. In general, place the cleaning tape inside the tape player. Close the lid. Press the "play" button on the tape player and allow the tape to run until the tape stops.

    Manual Cleaning

  1. 1

    Open the tape deck and remove any tape currently inside the deck. Unplug the tape player from the electrical socket, to avoid shocks as you clean the tape heads.

  2. 2

    Fill a shallow container with rubbing alcohol. Dip a Q-tip in the alcohol and rub gently over the tape heads. This should take several minutes to clean thoroughly. Turn the heads as you work, and pay special attention to the grooves between the heads.

  3. 3

    Plug the tape player back into the electrical socket. Press the "play" button on the tape player and allow to run for several minutes. This will give the tape heads time to dry out before you use the player for cassettes again. The sound quality of the tape audio should be better after cleaning.

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