I know we’ve really hit rock-bottom now, talking about something as mundane as a CD/DVD Lens Cleaner.
For those who have been in a coma since the 1980s or are maybe too young to have ever even encountered any physical format (are we at that point in history yet?) these devices were often sold at any department or electronics store (sometimes even included with a purchase of a new associated product – e.g. VHS head cleaner with a VCR, CD lens cleaner with a CD player) and were most support centres first ditch attempt at fixing any issues your device may be experiencing (similar to turning your computer device on and off again).
For a personal story I never bought a CD lens cleaner until I owned my first Xbox 360. Due to space constraints (and also it being the cool orientation) I used to stand my Xbox 360 up meaning I would load the game discs into the tray vertically. Being the ignorant child I was I never knew that you shouldn’t move the console around when it is on (certainly if its standing up) and kept having issues where my console would either fail to read my discs or end up leaving them with a pretty savage looking radial scratch. One of these games was my favourite Forza Motorsport 2 which I plundered many hours of my then endless free time into. At one point it ended up having some major read issues but before mum would allow me to take it to Blockbuster to be “professionally cleaned” I was informed to use a lens cleaner and general disc cleaning kit. I recall buying this kit at a supermarket (maybe ASDA?) and it came with this plastic tray to hold your CD, some small spray bottle of magic liquid, a soft cloth and (most importantly) the lens cleaner! The long and short of it was, as you’d expect, it did absolutely nothing to my copy of FM2 which would only be later fixed by taking it to the magic land of Blockbuster (RIP).
Over the years I slowly used up the liquid for cleaning other generally “dirty” discs, the plastic tray was binned and the soft cloth was thrown in with all the other small cleaning cloths (does anyone else have this, a drawer with a small ball of tiny little cleaning cloths of just a few inches in diameter?). The CD lens cleaner was kept in a jewel case (to protect those very important little brushes!) and promptly forgotten about. That was until I found my adult timesink Discogs where I began to catalogue every single item of audio in my house – which turned out to be a lot of contributions back in 2009 when I started. Of one of these contributions was this lens cleaner because amazingly it contained audio data which would instruct you how to use the CD cleaner and play some nice music while it did its job. You can see that original listing here – Unknown Artist – CD/DVD Lens Cleaner – Voice Guided Cleaning System [1999, Strand].
I am generally interested in just odd audio and video products, certainly those which many people might disregard as being useless or that carry a certain aesthetic. As many cleaning systems over the years contain royalty free (library) audio I find these to be great resources for this kind of nostalgia trip. So when I am out and about plundering the depths of car boots and junk shops I will always try and pick up one of these cleaners, bring them home, submit to Discogs and make an attempt to record their contents and preserve them either on YouTube or Archive.org.
A few years ago I was just mooching around on the now vast Discogs website and found that I was not the only sad sack out there submitting cleaning devices to the database and so I took it upon myself to create a “list” (sort of a collection in Discogs world) of them to try and keep them all in one easy to find location. Now there is nothing wrong with this list and every now and then I awaken to the joy of another Discog’er sending me a message asking me to add their new submission to their list – crazy isn’t it!
Now for prosperity sake I have re-created the list on here as well, and will also cover video cleaners that exist (seeing as Discogs is for audio products only).
In the same way as per my list description over on Discogs, maybe someone out there more creative and talented than myself could make some very unique vaporwave music using elements of these devices.
The list below closely matches my list on Discogs. Each entry will give some main points about the cleaning product. I have omitted entries that do not have much information about them leaving them to be too ambiguous.
Sorted by release date, all images are copyright of Discogs.com
Altai CD Lens Cleaner (Unknown, 19??)
Manufacturer/Brand – Altai (Gearogs)
Name – CD Lens Cleaner
Identifiers – Catalog Number: A161A | Matrix: VM 92V1 | Mastering SID Code: IFPI L751
Country of Origin – Unknown
Release Date – Unknown
Type of Music – Tracks 2, 3 and 4 are silent and have a duration of 15 minutes . Tracks 1 (duration 0:59) and 5 (duration 0:36) contain synth-pop style music with a female voice providing instructions.
Description – A standard size CD with a metallic label with the ALTAI logo positioned top left with the text CD Lens Cleaner A161A printed on the right-side. There are instructions Insert this side into CD player to the right of the centre mould which indicates this product can be used with slot loading devices. To the left-side of the centre mould a Compact Disc Digital Audio logo is present. There is a background of blue dots covering around 50% of the disc face. There was no recording made of the contents of this CD when I catalogued it originally. The manufacturer, Altai, appear to no longer be trading although there are a variety of products they sell in the audio and video accessories market that are still available to purchase online.
Endust CD Lens Cleaner with Voice Guide (USA, 19??)
Manufacturer/Brand – Endust for Electronics (website)
Name – CD Lens Cleaner with Voice Guide
Identifiers – none
Country of Origin – USA
Release Date – Unknown
Type of Music – Unknown but is apparently “voice guided”.
Description – A standard size CD with a metallic blue label with a dark pink/purple ring around the centre mould which reads Cleans CD Lens Non-Abrasive. The Enddust for Electronics logo is printed on the label towards the top centre. Some text appears along the right side of the mould which reads Just insert and listen to its voice to clean your CD player. Along the bottom of the disc is a short instruction that states Insert this side into player which indicates that this lens cleaner is intended for use with slot loading drives. The Discogs entry also includes a scan of the rear inlay which provides instructions for use and recommends Clean your lens at least once a week or after 8 hours of use. There are currently no recordings of the contents of this CD available online however the manufacturer Endust for Electronics are still trading and are based in Buffalo, New York.
CD Lens Cleaner Voice Guide System (Netherlands, 1992)
Manufacturer/Brand – Van Den Doel Accessories (website)
Name – CD Lens Cleaner Voice Guide System
Identifiers – Matrix: 11171K1 LC-010
Country of Origin – Netherlands
Release Date – 1992 (although there is an argument it was actually pressed in 1993 or 1994)
Type of Music – Described as containing 3 titles from famous new wave songs created back in the 90’s and is accompanied by a woman’s voice claiming cleaning your CD lens with this product can actually improve your high fidelity quality music.
Description – A standard size CD with a metallic label. CD LENS CLEANER is printed on the label side in black with a subtitle of VOICE GUIDE SYSTEM below that title in red. Further down the disc there is text that reads BULTI-IN-MUSIC & VOICE [sic] followed by the Van Den Doel Accessories logo. There are two red dots positioned at 20-past/20-too on the label face with a series of curved lines emitting from them, likely to indicate stereo sound. There are two more small items of text printed on the label face to the left and right of the centre mould however the text is unreadable in the picture provided. A reverse scan of the data side of the disc reveals that 6 brushes to clean the laser. The entry also includes a scan of the rear inlay which provides a short set of instructions on how to use the device. The manufacturer, Van Del Doel Accessories, appear to still be trading and are based in Geldrop, Netherlands. No recordings of the contents of this disc are currently available online.