Introduction: How to Build a VHS Movie Tape Cleaner

This process was needed to effectively clean a very old movie tape so that the quality of the picture was improved and it could be encoded and saved to digital DVD media.

Aside from classic movies it may also be helpful to those of you trying to transfer your old family VHS movies to DVD. You can noticeably improve the quality before you record it onto a computer.

Providing you are gentle.(Not much pressure is needed at all) There are no worries of damaging your original VHS tape. Though you cannot SEE allot of dirt on the final cleaning swap, it is there. This process made a huge difference in picture quality.

Step 1:

TAKE NOTE: VHS Tapes are magnetic. You should not have anything magnetic in your work area.

Items needed;

Movie tape to be cleaned
an old VCR machine
Scotch tape
Isopropyl alcohol
A hair elastic
2 inch square piece of soft non lint material
2 Q tips / cotton swabs
Screwdrivers to work with

Step 2:

1) Open the old VCR removing necessary screws and pop the top off

2) Hold two Q-tips together and secure them in the middle with two pieces of scotch tape approximately an inch and half long each.
The Q-tips should fit together in such a way as to press the top part and bottom part of the VHS tape at the same time.
They should be together but one slightly lower than the other as shown.

Step 3:

3) Fold swatch of lint free soft material (a handkerchief is ideal) in half and then wrap it around the two ends of the Q tip you just taped together.

Step 4:

4) Secure material with an elastic band as shown.

Step 5:

5) Load the tape to be cleaned and rewind it to the very beginning.

6) Find the spot indicated in the picture where you will be applying gentle pressure with your Cleaning SWAB. If you are looking at the front of the VCR it should be on your LEFT between where it leaves the cassette case, and the VCR HEAD
(the large silver round thing)

Step 6:

7) Apply 2 sprays or about 6 drops of isopropyl alcohol to the end of the swab.

8) Put the VCR in FAST FORWARD MODE and apply gentle pressure to the outside of the tape in that spot, as shown.(This is the side of the tape that is 'read' by the heads. The heads are on the round silver cylinder) You must do this in fast forward or rewind because if you apply pressure to the tape in another mode, the VCR senses the pressure and stops the tape from playing.
Hold the swab there gently, until the tape stops going FAST FORWARD.

Step 7:

9) Stop the machine and select REWIND and do the same procedure on the OTHER /inside of the tape as it rewinds.

You will notice dirt build up on the end of the Q tip swab. It does not look like much but to a tape it is allot.

Play your tape and you will notice a definite difference in quality. If you get a bad static screen or tracking bars let the tape sit for a good 30 minutes as alcohol that hasnt evaporated yet is fouling the picture. Try it again. You can also fast forward the tape through and then rewind and try again. This airs out the tape so the alcohol evaporates faster.
This was done to improve tape quality on a very old VHS tape so it could be recorded on digitalized DVD media.

Step 8:

You will see a definite difference in picture quality just like this example.