How did Head Cleaner video transmitters work

How do VHS cleaning tapes work and what do they do?

Updated on by vinett-video media service

In order to digitize your videos with the highest possible quality, you should not only keep your cassettes in good condition, but also your video recorder. Over time, deposits accumulate on the video heads and the transport rollers, which in turn can lead to picture noise or even picture loss too quickly. A good indicator of a dirty recorder is interference that occurs similarly on different video cassettes. Therefore, these parts have to be freed from deposits and dirt from time to time. If you don't dare to get hold of the electronic devices, you can bring the recorder to a specialist shop. For your own maintenance we provide a small overview and instructions with a few useful tips. Light soiling can also be removed with a special cleaning cassette.

This article should clarify what you can do in this case and how useful it is to use cleaning cartridges.

How do VHS cleaning tapes work?

VHS cleaning cassettes can be used to clean the video heads from dirt such as abrasion or fine dust. These are inserted into the video recorder like any other VHS cassette and then played. A distinction is made between 2 types of cleaning cartridges. During dry cleaning, a cloth-like cleaning tape runs over the video heads and removes the dirt there. For wet cleaning, a cleaning liquid is required that is poured into a corresponding opening in the cassette or applied to the tape. This varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. When using the cleaning cassette, it is essential that you follow the associated instructions. Here you can also see how long a cleaning process takes and how many passes should be carried out if necessary.
A cleaning cassette is sufficient for an average of 40-50 cleaning cycles and can be purchased from electronics retailers and online electronics shops. The following video illustrates the basic functionality using the example of a JVC recorder.

How useful are VHS cleaning cartridges?

The effectiveness of VHS cleaning cartridges is controversial. In various forums, some users are of the opinion that such cartridges are only inadequate. Lighter soiling can be removed with it, but VHS cleaning cartridges quickly reach their limits in the case of coarser soiling. If there are large particles of dirt on the video heads, the tape of the cleaning cassette may act like sandpaper and damage the video heads in the long term.

Clean the video recorder by hand

If you have a knack for technology, you can clean the video recorder yourself. The device is first carefully screwed on. Danger! The video recorder should definitely be disconnected from the electrical circuit beforehand. So pull out the plug and off you go. Make sure to store all screws carefully so that they are not lost. All individual parts can now be cleaned with a lint-free cloth (microfiber or leather cloth). Do not use cotton swabs as cotton particles could loosen and contaminate the device. Care should be taken with this type of cleaning. The video heads are very sensitive and should only be dabbed gently and not scrubbed. A better result is obtained by using a cleaning agent. This can be a special cleaning fluid or isopropanol (available from the pharmacy). A high proportion of water is poison for VHS recorders.

For a thorough result, all parts that come into contact with the video tape should be cleaned. These include in particular:

  • 1 and 2 sound and erase heads
  • 3 video heads
  • 4 and 5 loading device and pulleys
  • 6 drive shaft
  • 7 pressure roller

When cleaning the erase and tape heads, you should only move in the direction of the tape, i.e. H. Wipe sideways and not up and down, otherwise their track position may change. When cleaning the head drum, press the cloth gently against the disc with one hand while rotating it in the running direction with the other hand. This video should clarify the procedure somewhat:

Demagnetize the tape head

Another measure to maintain the video recorder is to demagnetize it. With tape recorders, magnetic fields often build up on the tape head after prolonged use. These can cause damage to the magnetic tape in the video recorder. A clear symptom of this problem is when the sound of a video sounds duller than usual.

If you want to demagnetize the tape head yourself, you can use a special tape head demagnetizer. These devices are available on the Internet and in electrical stores. If you are not technically experienced, you can have this small repair carried out in a specialist shop.

Cleaning by a professional

When cleaning a video recorder by hand, mistakes can easily occur in which important individual parts are damaged. If you are unsure, it is better to have the device cleaned by a professional. Such cleaning is in any case cheaper than a possible repair if something is damaged by cleaning yourself.


The use of VHS cleaning cartridges is not always sensible or satisfactory. Lighter soiling can possibly be removed. In the case of coarser soiling, cleaning yourself or having it cleaned by a specialist is recommended. In any case, VHS recorders should be cleaned at regular intervals. So nothing stands in the way of an undisturbed film enjoyment or a possible digitization of the recordings.

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