Removing Scratches from CDs and DVDs

Scratched CD

Scratches on CDs and DVDs can be a problem. In some cases, even a small shallow scratch can render the disc useless. If you are wondering if there is still a use for your pile of scratched CDs of your favorite music albums, computer and console games, then you’re in luck.

Of course there are many commercial products available on the market; however, you don’t have to spend tons of money just to be able to listen to your favorite Radiohead album again or open that college thesis you burned to a CD years ago. You can easily make them work again by simply using the exisiting items you have in your home.

What You Need:

  • Scratched CD / DVD. Finding this is very easy since you probably have many of them at home. Just make sure that the recording film / layer is not scratched, torn, or perforated; otherwise, there is no hope for recovering the data stored on it.
  • Soft Cotton Cloth. An old shirt, a soft hanky, or even your old underwear will do. You can even use the cleaning cloth you usually use for your eyeglasses.
  • Cleaning Chemicals. No, you don’t have to buy any of these from the hardware store. You simply need any of the following: banana peel, toothpaste (not the gel type), or metal polish (Brasso works very well).


Polishing the CD

Now that you have all the materials ready, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Start by cleaning the surface of the disc. Run water on the disc. Warm water works best. Gently soap it using a mild detergent or some liquid soap and rub it around the disc to get rid of grime and other stains on the surface. Remember to rub the disc from the center going out. Rubbing it in a circular motion will risk adding even more scratches.
  2. Wash off the soap and shake the excess water from the disc. Let it air dry. Inspect the surface of the disc when completely dry. You may want to try reading the disc in your player or your computer to see if it already works.
  3. If it doesn’t, then you will need to further polish the CD using the cleaning chemicals you have. If you will be using the banana peel, get the peeling and rub the inside of the peel on the surface of the CD or DVD. Remember to rub it from the center going outward, focusing more on the heavily scratches on your CD. The same thing goes if you are will be using toothpaste. If you will be using Brasso or some metal polish, make sure you work in a well-ventilated area so that you don’t inhale the fumes. Use the soft cloth to apply the polish.
  4. Cleaning Disc

    Rub the cleaning material you have on the disc for about five minutes and wash the the disc completely afterwards. Make sure there isn’t any residue on the surface or the side of the disc. Shake off the excess water and air dry the disc.

  5. Try reading the disc in the player or your computer again. Some players, like entertainment systems, are very sensitive to scratches. If it does not seem to work, try a different player.
  6. If the disc works, immediately back up the CD using your burning software and burn it into a new CD or DVD just to be safe. If not, repeat the process again, this time for about 15 minutes.

If it Fails to Read…

A CD or DVD is composed of two materials: the recording film (that shiny reflective layer) and a plastic part. The recording film contains all the data stored on the CD. When a disc gets scratched, only the plastic layer gets scratched.

The scratch removing process merely evens out the scratches by either wearing the surface until it is even, or by filling in the scratches so that the laser from the player can read the surface again; however, when the recording film is the one damaged, you will not be able to recover the data anymore.

The best way to keep scratches from ruining your DVDs is to prevent them from appearing in the first place. Learn how to clean DVDs. Soon, you’ll be able to enjoy all those good movies, games and music again.

36 Comments so far

  1. valerynna on July 21st, 2008

    This really works! A computer tech also suggested to flush the cd in the toilet, shake and let air dry, he said that would guarantee a one time use. He was also right. When scratches are really bad i use a scratch cleaner for plastic? I know, but it works!!! Thank you for your suggestions.

  2. james on July 21st, 2008

    plastX works great. it is made by mguiers. i usew it on my motorcycle windsheild and it is crystal clear. it also works great on xbox games that would not play otherwise. it removes scratches and waxes the cd to a clear finish. buy it at ace hardware or walmart or where mguires is sold. mguires car products. good luck… james

  3. Jay on July 21st, 2008

    Really interesting…

  4. Anon on July 22nd, 2008

    *picks jaw up off floor*

    Never, in a million years, did I think this would work. I took my copy of Final Fantasy 10 and polished it up with toothpaste, and had one of those, what the hell am I doing/I never thought I’d be doing this moment, dubious as to whether or not this would even work. It’s not like the game could not work more so than it’s not working now. I popped it back into the PS2, it loaded just fine, then it got to the part where it always freezes, and lo and behold, it loaded past that point, and I, in shock and awe, continued triumphantly along with my game. My hat is off to you, sir or madame. You saved me about 20 bucks that I’d've otherwise spent on a new copy of this game.

  5. Bull3t on July 23rd, 2008

    I genuinely am now eating my hat.

  6. Shanna on July 27th, 2008

    Do you have any recommendations for scratches on vinyl?

  7. Ambrosia on July 28th, 2008

    I buff them out with liquid car wax…puts a clear coat on them and fills in the scratches.

  8. Jonathan on July 28th, 2008

    Don’t forget to backup those recovered CDs or DVDs as soon as you get them to work again. Good luck!

  9. dud on August 1st, 2008

    use gasoline

  10. AmyLeigh on August 14th, 2008

    OMG! I am so gonna try this tonight! My oldest son has been after me to do something with his Cartel CD. yay!

  11. Anonymous on August 17th, 2008

    It works best if you use baking soda, then rinse with tap water, then microwave for a quick 10-second dry. Just like new!

  12. Osama on August 19th, 2008

    Looks too good to be true to me. Maybe I’ll try it on a CD I don’t care about :P

  13. Ted on August 20th, 2008

    Do NOT put your CD or DVD in the microwave!

    It has a metal film on it and will create sparks and possibly do some damage.

    Don’t listen to everyone… some people try to fool you.

  14. Matt on August 20th, 2008

    For a temp/quick fix ill polish a cd with oil, even cooking oil works well. Just a few drops of oil on the CD/DVD and a tissue, polishing with the same techique as above and make sure no excess oil is left on the CD/DVD. Works a treat.

  15. Mars on August 22nd, 2008

    This looks great. I use alcohol to clean my CDs, now I know more ways.

  16. Wow, I\\\’m going to try this out now. I did try to use toothpaste to clean discs, but your article showed me the correct way. Thank you very much!

  17. Lee Thompson on August 25th, 2008

    get baking soder and oil then after you have applied over the scratches. put in the oven on 200 degrees and leave for 10mins then wipe all the crap off and you are ready to use your disk

  18. Average American on August 27th, 2008

    Instead of the microwave or oven, rub it clean with gasoline with the above procedure, light a match and put it close to the cd; the gasoline not only cleans the surface grime but also fills in the deep scratches and makes it nice and smooth.

  19. Average American on August 27th, 2008

    you F’ing fools, LAWL for idiots!

  20. will on September 1st, 2008

    don’t use gasoline, its will eat away at the plastic. and definitely don\’t set it on fire.

  21. Simon T on September 8th, 2008

    I actually wouldn\’t recommend toothpaste, as i\’ve had some problems with it leaving residue that can\’t be removed.

    Instead I would recommend using ketchup. It\’s just as good a polisher as toothpaste, and won\’t leave any residue. And yes, I would actually recommend ketchup over many real polishers. I use ketchup exclusively for my silverware for example.

  22. robot on December 16th, 2008

    I use stomach acid, rub it in with my finger and then dry it off in the toaster

  23. Nathan on December 17th, 2008

    That didn’t work at all, I don’t know if I did it wrong or something but it just wrecked the disk more.

  24. justin green on December 26th, 2008

    this was a bunch of crap

  25. [...] these links, if you can’t replace the CDs Removing scratches from CDs using toothpaste and another Removing CD scratches. Note the data is etched between the top side and the CD label, the inside of the top label acts [...]

  26. R4D1 on February 6th, 2009

    it worked :D i had a scratched gta san andreas dvd for the ps2, it didnt worked when i tried to play it. i used car wax which is called ”Sonax” to remove the scratches. it didnt removed the scratches, something better happened, my gta san andreas worked after the car wax perfectly, no crashes, nothing bad….
    i recommend to use car wax for the best results.
    banana peel doesnt work soo good…

  27. Matt on March 25th, 2009

    Too bad this article is obsolete because of Blu Ray discs. They don’t scratch like dvds, cds, and vinyl.

  28. DesertDiamondHotelCasino on April 3rd, 2009

    Maybe they don’t scratch bust still i have most pc games on dvds.

  29. Chris Tucker on April 11th, 2009


    Please understand that the original post was by an individual trying to help most people save a few $$ by fixing CD’s and DVD’s. Some individuals for whatever reason decide to fool you. Again if you do not know, use common sence. Microwaving….. BAD idea, gasoline or other solvents, also BAD idea….

    Brasso, toothpaste ( non whitening) and Plastx are good ideas.

  30. Chris Tucker on April 11th, 2009

    OK, second post,

    MOTHERS CALIFORNIA GOLD PRE WAX CLEANER……. Get at automotive sections

    Use your finger instead of the cloth to apply in the above manner. Use soft cloth to remove residue. Repeat as reqd.

  31. Komputor on May 29th, 2009

    Matt on March 25th, 2009
    “Too bad this article is obsolete because of Blu Ray discs. They don’t scratch like dvds, cds, and vinyl.”

    You’re wrong on both points. First, BluRay will never catch on or replace dvd’s. A better technology will replace them both before that ever happens. And second, BluRay discs don’t scratch as easily as dvd’s, cd’s, and vinyl, but they still get scratched.

  32. frodo on June 28th, 2009

    How on earth is this “obsolete” - First of all, there are TONS of CD’s and DVD’s in circulation, and still continue to be sold. Maybe someday this will be “obsolete” when DVD’s and CD’s are no longer sold, but even then, people will have large collections and will still gain useful knowledge from how to fix them - the information may even be more relevant then, since you won’t be able to easily find replacements for your worn media.

  33. Robyn on July 13th, 2009

    it really works i was shocked!!!!:D:D:D

  34. Pound pup on August 2nd, 2009

    I am going to try this on my Sly 3 Honor Among theives ps2 game disk. The game has trouble with cutscenes, and the game is badly scratched. I’d rather spend a few bucks or less on peanut butter or something, rather than buying another disk for like 20-30 dollars. Thanks for the info! anyone know what I should use specifically?

  35. Aman on August 18th, 2009


    Ive got a gamecube game that i tried to do this with….it didnt work.. Mario Kart Double Dash for GC. How i fix video games? same method?

  36. [...] A veces el truco consiste en rayarlo un poco más, como explican en Life Hackery: Removing Scratches from CDs and DVDs. [...]

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