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  1. Member
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    There are one or two threads on this topic in the archives, but there was conflicting advice as to what to do. Long story short, I have some old NFL games that I want to convert into digital files, but many of my tapes have a coating of mold on the top of the film itself. Here's an example from Google to illustrate my problem:

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    Some of my tapes are that bad, but others only have a smattering of mold. Advice on the Net has ranged from cleaning it with distilled water to cleaning it with rubbing alcohol. I have tried neither as of yet. So has anyone been able to salvage a moldy tape without having to take it to an expensive cleaning service?
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  2. aBigMeanie aedipuss's Avatar
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    well if it's just on the top surface they may play. get a head cleaning tape and be prepared.
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    "a lot of people are better dead" - prisoner KSC2-303
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  3. Member AlanHK's Avatar
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    The mould will be floating around your player. I tried cleaning a mouldy tape with alcohol, then played it. Worked for a little while, then it wouldn't play anything until I got the machine cleaned.
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    I think I'd rather attempt to clean it than stick it in a VCR "as is" and hope that it plays. Some people advise not using alcohol or any other chemicals, because it could destroy the magnetic part of the tape.
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  5. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by slats7 View Post
    without having to take it to an expensive cleaning service?
    No.
    If the tape is worth transferring, it's worth having repaired properly.
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  6. aBigMeanie aedipuss's Avatar
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    vhs is a temporary medium, no matter what you do the magnetic particles on the tape will lose their charge. if you are going to clean it once and then capture it then alcohol will make no difference. if you have a spare vcr then you could open it and use the transport to ff and rw the tape while holding a clean microfiber cloth dampened with alcohol against the tape. beware that any large particles trapped in the cloth may scratch the rest of the tape making it worse than not trying to clean it.

    commercial tape cleaning units used to sell starting about $3000, but even well used now go for about $500. a weeks rental is about $300.
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  7. Banned
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    If you use alcohol, avoid the cheap 75% stuff. Use the medical-grade 90% or better. The cheap stuff is greasy. I've seen tape-cleaning fluid specifically designed for this, but it's been a while. You might check the 'net.

    There are expensive tape-cleaning machines around. Most of them will destroy tape.

    Head cleaners: you can use high-grade alcohol (never use q-tips !!!), but head cleaning fluid is best.

    Head cleaning tapes are a no-no. Period. Stay away. Verboten.
    Last edited by sanlyn; 21st Mar 2014 at 06:05.
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  8. Member
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    Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
    If you use alcohol, avoid the cheap 75% stuff. Use the medical-grade 90% or better. The cheap stuff is greasy. I've seen tape-cleaning fluid specifically designed for this, but it's been a while. You might check the 'net.

    There are expensive tape-cleaning machines around. Most of them will destroy tape.

    Head cleaners: you can use high-grade alcohol (never use q-tips !!!), but head cleaning fluid is best.

    Head cleaning tapes are a no-no. Period. Stay away. Verboten.
    Okay, I bought some 91% alcohol and some microfiber cloths. Question: should I just apply the alcohol to the visible moldy spots, or wipe down the entire top of the tape just to be sure?
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  9. Just get pure ethanol at Ace or HD, it's about $4/qt.
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    Yes, I read those already while doing research. I need more of a do-it-yourself tutorial. Unfortunately, none exist on YouTube at the moment. Thanks
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    Important point not mentioned is that the spores in the mould growth can be hazardous to health and unless tested you should assume any mould is potentially dangerous to your health and at the least try to do any cleaning outside or in a well ventilated area.
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  12. Member
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    Originally Posted by thegreatbear View Post
    Important point not mentioned is that the spores in the mould growth can be hazardous to health and unless tested you should assume any mould is potentially dangerous to your health and at the least try to do any cleaning outside or in a well ventilated area.
    Yeah, I've also been advised to wear one of those surgical face-masks, too. I wonder if I'm supposed to try to remove the dry flaky mold first before applying alcohol to the affected areas.
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    right now I'm playing a tape just like yours.. the mold doesn't seem to matter.. the image is OK, no dropouts or whatever.. but I know the heads will be kinda dirty after.. I'll just clean them before putting another tape.. ~~ I'm using a spray "contact cleaner" with my T-shirt to clean the heads :P

    and the vcr is opened in my room.. will I get asthma or something?
    Last edited by Heiler; 22nd Oct 2011 at 01:30.
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    One last question before I try to repair my moldy tapes: how to I remove the clear plastic coverings without breaking them? I need to remove them in order to swab the moldy parts of the tape with rubbing alcohol.
    Last edited by slats7; 25th Nov 2011 at 21:26.
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