How to Clean a Car Cassette Player

By Meg Butler

Audio cassettes leave behind oxides which must be periodically cleaned.
i cassette image by Shawn Stallard from

The more often you play tapes in your car's cassette player, the more debris accumulates. The tape in a cassette sheds oxide that builds up on the tape heads and guides. Over time, this build-up affects the sound quality of the tapes. Dirty tape players may emit a low, fluttering or static sound. Because a car cassette player's parts are internal, the best way to clean it is with a head cleaning tape. This cleaner comes in cassette form and can simply be inserted into the player to clean those parts that are hard to see and access without taking the player apart and voiding the warranty.

Add the included cleaning fluid to the tape according to the manufacturer's instructions. The fluid receptor hole is normally located on the "A" side of the tape below the tape's gear holes. The fluid is in dropper form. Add the number of drops dictated by the manufacturer's instructions (adding more may damage the tape deck).

Turn the key into the ignition so that the tape deck receives power.

Insert the head cleaning tape into the tape player, "A" side up.

Press "play" on your car's cassette player. Allow the cassette to run for the manufacturer-recommended amount of time (usually three to five minutes).

Eject the tape. Allow the tape deck to dry for five minutes or the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer before inserting an audio cassette.