How to Fix a Scratched CD or DVD

You know how it goes. You’re kicking back in your car or your favorite easy chair listening to your favorite song on the CD player, when bam, it starts jumping around incomprehensibly. Don’t trash your CD just yet, try these tips to send those scratches packing. These tips are also applicable to CD-ROMs and DVDs

Prep your CD

Clean any gunk off of the disc

The first thing you should do if your disc is skipping or is unreadable is to clean it. It could be that there is just some dust or other debris on it. Even if you can see a couple of scratches on it, you may be able to just clean it to get it in working order again. For the step by step instructions on cleaning your disc, see how to clean CDs and DVDs. If this doesn’t resolve the problem, proceed to step two.

Locate and check the depth of the scratches

 

Taking a close look at the disc cab help you determine your course of action. Hold it up to the light by putting your thumb in the hole in the middle and grabbing the curved edges with your fingers. (Do not touch the main – shiny – part of the disc, since you could scratch it worse or add fingerprints). See if the scratches are minor scratches (barely breaking the surface), major scratches (about half the depth of the disc), very deep grooves or holes that cut through the entire surface of the disc.

Minor scratches should be a cinch to repair following the steps below. If there are any major scratches, you should concentrate your cleaning efforts on those areas and you may have to repeat the process a couple times. If the disc has a very deep groove or hole or the scratch is in the side of the disc with the label on it, it will be very difficult to repair, and you should either replace the disc or seek the help of a professional if this is not possible.

If you don’t see any scratches at all on your disc but it still won’t play properly, it is likely that the problem lies not with the disc but with your CD or DVD player. Try a few other discs in the player and you will likely come to the conclusion that this is the problem.

The Process

Assemble your cleaning supplies

There are several tricks that have proven helpful in getting scratched CDs and DVDs back to playable condition. Be aware that these tips will help the disc play better but not necessarily help it look better. In fact, the disc may even look worse after you fix it than it did before. It may be duller or have more minor scratches (key word: minor), but when you stick it in your CD player, DVD player or computer it should play cleanly – or at least skip a lot less than it did before.

  1. Toothpaste: Many swear by using toothpaste to smooth out the surface of CDs and DVDs. Most any variety of paste (not gel) will do, although plainer is better than fancier, i.e., ixnay on the fancy Crest with the polishing beads and breath strips. Do not use toothpastes containing abrasive particles such as baking soda or you will do more damage to your disc.
  2. Peanut butter: Okay, peanut butter does not seem like the optimal cleaning solution, but the oiliness and stickiness will actually help in this case, as they will smooth out the disc’s surface. Be sure to use creamy peanut butter, not crunchy. Talk about a way to scratch the disc worse.
  3. Metal polish: A somewhat more traditional route to take is using metal polish. Brasso is a brand that continually comes up as good for cleaning CDs and DVDs.
  4. Commercial disc repair liquid: Disc repair solutions can be found in most electronic stores, either by themselves or as part of a disc-cleaning kit. One example is Disk Doctor, but there are many others as well.

If your disc contains vital information, or you’re just nervous about polishing it with something you’d normally put on a sandwich, you can practice your polishing on a less important CD or DVD first to ensure that you apply the technique correctly.

Polish your disc

Whether you choose the metal polish or go with the peanut butter, you should basically follow the same technique in applying it to your scratched disc. Take a cotton cloth, like the sleeve of an old t-shirt, and dip it in your cleaning solution of choice. You won’t need a lot of your cleaning solution – a teaspoon at most for one disc.

Then use the cloth to gently buff the disc. Rub from the inner part of the disc to the edges in a straight line outward. Don’t move the cloth in circles or follow the lines imprinted in the disc. This could possibly scratch it worse.

Wipe or rinse off any excess solution

In many cases, you won’t even need to complete this step, as the disc will be pretty clean after you finish the polishing process. However it may be necessary to quickly rinse the disc with lukewarm water or window cleaner or wipe off any excess solution with a clean cloth. Be sure to dry it afterwards by using the cloth or letting it air dry.

If none of the suggested solutions work for you, repeat the process again. If you used the peanut butter or the toothpaste, try covering the disc in the solution and letting it set on the disc for five to ten minutes before wiping it off.

Sanding and Polishing by Machine

Disc still doesn’t work? You may need to bring in the big guns: a disc sanding or polishing machine. These machines can be pricey, so it is recommended to use them as a last resort, or if you have a large number of scratched discs you need fixed at the same time.

Prevention

To avoid having this problem in the future, make copies of your CDs and DVDs as soon as you notice any minor scratches on them. That way if the disc ever does become irreparable you won’t have a serious problem on your hands. You should always back up discs that contain important data anyway, or save the data in another format.

Also, be sure to store your discs in their cases, or at least in paper sleeves, when you’re not using them. And if your player, CD or DVD ROM or game system has a habit of scratching up discs, it is probably time to invest in a new one.

 

Comments

  1. Sean says:

    I was watching NBC. They said that Pledge wood polishers fills up the scratches.

  2. Robolix says:

    There’s nothing better than CAR WAX for cleaning CDs and DVDs!

  3. Island Sweety says:

    I use car wax for repairing CDs and DVDs, and it works great!

  4. Black Rhino says:

    I just tried the toothpaste and it scratched the heck out of my disk; now it won’t read at all! Thanks a lot! :(

  5. Lucas says:

    I tried using car polisher, but it didn’t work too well; it got one disc for my PS2 to run, but not very well, and not very long. Not sure how it’s worked for others.

  6. DJ says:

    I tried the toothpaste and it did not work.

  7. Hardy says:

    A guy at work told me to use baby wipes and what do you know, it actually worked great!

  8. M. Brink says:

    I’m giving away a trade secret, but I live far enough that it won’t matter too much. If you can find it, use a hard stick plastic polishing wax on a 6 inch bench grinder that has two buffing wheels (the buffing wheels need to be the soft terrycloth ones, use the wax stick on one side and the other with nothing, then with light pressure, buff the disc from the center outwards and turn. Repeat the process until the disc is coated, then switch to the bare wheel and repeat the process, and it should look like new! Just make sure you hold on tightly to the disc as the bench grinder can snag the disc from your hands and throw it against the wall. Good luck finding the wax though.

  9. RecipeKing says:

    Hi. I fixed my friends music CD that had scratches on it with furniture polish and a dry sock, making circles with it then rubbing it on my t shirt – OMG it worked!

  10. Maia says:

    You can also use the cleaning solution for eye glasses.

  11. Maggie says:

    I have used Brasso with excellent results; it took 3-5 coats to get the deep scratches fixed. Put the Brasso on a soft cloth, working from the center out in a straight line. The Brasso doesn’t dry, so apply a coat, let it rest for a few minutes, then take a soft cloth and again working in a straight line, remove the residue. Repeat until the scratch is gone. It really does work.

  12. Jean says:

    I have fixed a ton of CD´s with hydrogen peroxide. It really works! This is not a scam; it really works!!

    Instructions:

    1. First, apply hydrogen on your CD (like a teaspoon).

    2. Rub it with a paper towel.

    3. Dry the CD and then try it out. I really recommend this for you if you don’t want to get yourself in a sticky situation with thoothpaste and peanut butter.

  13. Roxy says:

    Thanks a lot, I tried the whole vegetable oil thing and now my Wii doesn’t work with any game. It is now broken – thanks for the tip! >:<

  14. Psoli says:

    Hydrogen peroxide is not vegetable oil. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not vegetable oil. JEEZ.

  15. JJ says:

    Hydrogen is not vegetable oil. Hydrogen is a gas.

  16. Stephanie says:

    I’ve got an intensely scratched copy of one of my favorite PS2 games that often freezes at a particularly graphics-heavy part of the game. Each time this happens, I clean the disk with creamy peanut butter, make sure there’s no excess residue, and pop it back in my PS2. It works every time! I definitely recommend this process to anyone with scratched CDs… don’t use toothpaste, it will just scratch the CD up more. Peanut butter is the way to go! :)

  17. Heather says:

    OMG… The baby wipes worked on all my scratched CDs. Thanks for posting that, Hardy!

    Won’t scratch your CDs like toothpaste, don’t have to clean up sticky peanut butter afterward, and your CDs will smell like baby oil. Love it.

  18. Kevin says:

    I used the toothpaste one and it worked great. I worked from the center out, let it dry and then used a little water with an old white shirt and it worked perfect!

  19. Cool 2 Snog says:

    Do not use paper towels or anything else containing wood fibers to clean CD’s (or anything else made of soft plastic, e.g., sunglasses lenses, etc). You will scratch them up even worse.

    Use a SOFT COTTON RAG as the article suggests.

  20. 8) says:

    Well, I’ve tried the toothpaste two or three times, doesn’t work. I tried the furniture polish, and the baby wipes. I’ve even tried electronics screen cleaning wipes, which seem like the first logical choice. But none of these things work. My CD is only slightly scratched and they aren’t very deep scratches so I don’t know why nothing is working.

  21. Poseidon says:

    Glasses cleaner really does work! I tried it with my favorite game and now it is as good as new!

  22. James says:

    I have a DVD that has scratches and I have tried furniture polish, toothpaste – and nothing worked. But now, I have a bad haze on the DVD. Is there a way to clear the haze?

  23. Amanda says:

    I used Pledge lemon furniture polish and it worked! I just sprayed a little bit on a cotton round, wiped it on the CD from the inside to the outside, and wiped it off the same way with a clean cotton round. I was afraid of the Pledge getting into my computer so I rinsed it off and wiped off the water with another cotton round. Popped it into my computer and it worked perfectly!

  24. Chow mein says:

    My little boy tried using toothpaste and it didn’t work. We used a car polisher brush and peanut butter and it was amazing. Good as new! Thanks! =]

  25. Tyrie says:

    I used toothpaste on my PS2 game and it didn’t work, but it sounded much better when I put it in. Good idea; I’m going to try it on my other game. Thanks!

  26. Tyrie says:

    I guess that’s the kind of CD it is, to be able to know what to use.

  27. Jose says:

    Hey, I tried everything at the same time, and now my PS2 game works perfectly! Thanks. :)

  28. Maskey says:

    How can I clean the lens of my PS2?

  29. Marc says:

    I used peanut butter. it took about two coats or so, and my old copy of red faction was up and ready to be played again. Sadly, with semi-heavy use, the game started to mess up again. But fortunately, another couple of coats of peanut butter, and the CD was working great. :) Thanks for the help!

  30. Rodrigo says:

    Go to Walgreens and buy Vaseline petroleum jelly. Then wipe on the disc and let stand for 10 minutes. Rinse under the sink, then dry from center out. Be careful to not dry in the circle around the disc.

  31. Emily says:

    Nothing works on my favorite episode disk of Merlin. :’( I did tooth paste, nope, car polish, nope! My DVD won’t work. Now my DVD player’s broken, too. Yay.

  32. Aiman says:

    I also tested the car wax method, and it works!

  33. Chloe says:

    I tried everything and nothing worked. It just scratched. :( Thanks a lot. :|

  34. Bill says:

    I cut my damaged CD into pieces, then boiled them for 15 minutes in water. After that, I deep fried them. I then put the the pieces together again with sellotape and put it into my CD player. It didn’t work.

  35. Melanie says:

    Maskey,
    If you search for that question online, you will find a great guide by by Neoseeker, PS2 Do It Yourself Guide and a user-friendly article by wikiHow, How to Clean a PlayStation 2 Lens. Both articles recommend using a cotton swab to wipe the lens (either dry or moistened with alcohol or water). There are also helpful videos on YouTube that you can watch.

  36. Kristal says:

    I can’t tell you what will take scratches off of a DVD because it’s a secret. I don’t tell anybody that; I only tell my girl.

  37. Bruce says:

    A simple solution to fixing any CD or DVD, games, etc. I have owned a dj business for the last 10 years and this is what I use to clean and repair: purchase a bench buffer ($40.00) and purchase the soft buffing wheels ($6.00). Use a gentle motion, in circles against the wheel, and it will clean and remove all scratches, etc. You can also rub wax sticks against the wheels to give the shine it deserves on the CDs. If anyone has any questions, e-mail me. Have a nice day. :)

  38. Gabriel says:

    I used Choice condom oil with my spray (English Blazer) and it works like magic.
    1. Apply the condom oil on the disc, then spray a little deodorant.
    2. Wipe the disc after two minutes with a handkerchief or a very soft shirt.

  39. Katina says:

    Well I don’t see where it tells you how to fix it.

  40. Douglas says:

    Maybe you guys should be a little more specific with brands and types of toothpaste/wax you used when you say that method did or didn’t work. Every place makes their product differently and I’m sure none of them had the thought in mind that their product could double as CD scratch remover.

  41. Willem says:

    I tried everything; it did not work – you all are liars.

  42. Timothy says:

    I tried toothpaste and it did not work, but baby wipes do work.

  43. Kathryn says:

    Rubbing a banana peel on your CD or DVD works really well too.

  44. Rasta says:

    Guys, have yet to try any of those methods and hope it works on my CD. Adios.

  45. Rasta says:

    My CD is as good as new thanks to the banana peels.

  46. Celia says:

    Well the toothpaste only scratched it and now it looks worse. It’s now scratched all over. Thanks. I’ll never sell that game now. Going to try Brasso tomorrow. Not very happy…

  47. Mary says:

    Get a Dremel or other variable speed rotary tool with a soft buffing wheel. Put Scratch Doctor or other like car polish on your CD, DVD, or game. I wash with soap and water first. Apply a thin coat if the polish, let dry and polish. It takes time, but it’s worth it. Wash with soap and water again, dry and you’re good to go. Don’t use the harder polishing wheel because you could gouge the disc and that’s it. Take your time. Never push down.

  48. Calleigh says:

    I tried using the peanut butter; since it didn’t work, I ate the disc. Very nice snack.

  49. Uliane says:

    In order for the toothpaste to work, you have to rub the paste in the direction of the scratches and only on the scratches.

  50. Jelek says:

    This always works:
    What you need: deodorant, baby wipes, T-shirt

    1 Put deodorant on the baby wipes.
    2 Clean up your CD with it.
    3 Blow your breath on it.
    4 Dry it up with your T-shirt.

  51. Becki says:

    I recently started buying movies at the pawn shop, which means by at your own risk and they may be scratched. Get furniture polish; it doesn’t matter what kind, dollar store brand works just as good as Pledge. Spray the polish on the disk, let the disc dry, use a microfiber cloth, also available at the dollar store, and then wipe the disc the way you know you’re supposed to do it. I promise you, as soon as you put it in the DVD player, it will work like new. :D By the way, the polish doesn’t actually dry, but you should let it sit for longer than 5 minutes. Enjoy yourself and enjoy your movie.

  52. Maya says:

    Well, I tried peanut butter and scrathed the life out of my DVD. Thanks a lot. So many people have got their movies scratched even more because of your lying tips. Thanks.

  53. Laura says:

    Well, I am very pleased to state that I have tried the toothpaste pure white paste. I tried it on a few CDs that were only minor and major; did NOT work, nor the banana. Also, the baby wipes did not work, maybe it was the kind I used?? So this guy here where I live has a machine and he charges five bucks per CD and no guarantees… Out of 11 CDs, only three of them worked. So I bought Brasso and I am pleased to announce, it worked right off the bat. I got a 100% cotton t-shirt, turned it inside-out, poured some of the butter-like substance onto the t-shirt and from the inside-out in a straight line, went around and around the CD; set it down and moved on to the next. Now, I am writing this blog while all the CDs are sitting there waiting for me to wipe them in the same manner to an almost perfect condition. So the one I did first was a PS2 game that has not worked for over a year. I went over it, wiped it clean, went over it again, wiped it clean, then handed it to my son, and a few moments later, all grins – it worked. He is still playing it right now!! It was very heavily scratched. Thank you all for this awesome tip. I am very grateful!! :)

  54. Ace says:

    Toothpaste sucks; it now smells like it and it scratched it more. I can’t believe you guys. Thanks a lot.

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