How to Clean Tape Machine Heads

Written by matthew battle
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How to Clean Tape Machine Heads
Everything old is new again: Clean and maintain your tape machine heads so you can listen to your favourite tapes. (cassette image by Marek Kosmal from

Tape machine heads are a vital part of any tape deck. The machine heads are the metal parts situated in the tape deck that read the tape and enable the music on your cassette to be played through the stereo's speakers. Because tape decks are not as widely used as they used to be, spare parts are hard to come by, so it's important to know how to clean and maintain your tape recorder. Starting with these vital components---the tape heads---is a great place to start.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Demagnetising cassette
  • Cassette head cleaner
  • Cleaning solution
  • Cotton swabs
  • Rubbing alcohol

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  1. 1

    Open the compartment door of your tape machine by pressing the "Eject" button. Insert the cassette demagnetiser, and shut the door.

  2. 2

    Press "Play" to begin the demagnetising process. Press "Stop" once the process has been going for about a minute. Remove the demagnetising cassette.

  3. 3

    Add three drops of cleaning solution to the hole on the cassette head cleaner. Insert the cassette head cleaner into your tape machine's cassette drawer. Close the drawer, and press "Play." The cleaning cycle should take about a minute.

  4. 4

    Dip a cotton swab into some rubbing alcohol if you do not have a cassette head cleaner.

  5. 5

    Open the compartment drawer on your tape machine. Unplug your machine so that the tape heads are locked in an exposed position. Clean the tape head (the chrome cube) by gently wiping the cotton swab back and forth. Dry with a clean cotton swab.

Tips and warnings

  • You can buy a demagnetising cassette, a cassette head cleaner and cleaning solution at stores that sell audio equipment.
  • Ensure that your tape machine is unplugged from the main power supply before swabbing your tape heads with rubbing alcohol. Failure to do so could result in an electric shock.

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