Who knew that toothpaste could get rid of DVD scratches? Nothing lasts forever, but that shouldn’t stop you from holding onto your discs for most of your life. Of course, damages happen over time. Discs get scratched for plenty of reasons, but buying them again doesn’t appear to be a particularly appealing option. Here are the tricks of the trade to get rid of DVD scratches:
1. Remove the dust.
Every disc contains a certain amount of dust on its sensitive side. Some will have more if you haven’t used them in a while, while others might just have some specks here and there. These will get in the way of cleaning the disc! The dust scratches the disc if you press it into the disc with a cloth, so get rid of the stuff before moving forward.
2. Use a special cloth.
Special screen-cleaning cloths can remove light scratches. Also known as microfiber cloth, the material in these cloths traps small particles that might be on your disc. Such material also goes a long way toward removing dust on your disc before you go about applying the other solutions in this article.
3. Apply toothpaste.
You read that correctly. Toothpaste can actually help discs with scratches of all types. Remember to remove the dust before applying any toothpaste! Once you’ve done that, gently apply the paste to the disc. Use a gelatine variety if you have it. It’s the clear type, so you’ll know it when you see it. Also apply a small amount to the disc. You don’t need to overdo the toothpaste because you’ll spread it all over the disc.
Gently rub the toothpaste into the disc in a circular motion. Do not use small circular motions; instead, follow the lines of the disc itself in a broad circular pattern. You want to do this in order to rub the toothpaste along the lines from which the DVD player’s laser extracts data to play the video file. Let it sit for a moment before removing it, which we cover in a later step.
4. Apply a banana.
Yes, even a banana can fix discs for a while! This method serves as an alternate approach to using toothpaste, although you can apply both if you wish. Remove any specks of dust on your disc before proceeding, just as you should do with toothpaste. Gently rub the Banana into the disc in a broadly circular motion that follows the lines on the disc itself.
You want to apply the inside of the banana to the disc, so remove the outside layer and the stringy bits. Let it sit for a minute before removing anything. You can cut off a new part of the banana to apply a fresh surface to the disc if the fruit begins to run dry before you’re done with it.
5. Apply vaseline.
You can also find this substance under a no-name brand by the name of petroleum jelly. The product will generally be the same for your purposes (cleaning discs, for instance), so don’t worry about finding the right brand. Follow the same steps as outlined with the toothpaste and the banana: gently rub the jelly into the disc in a broadly circular motion.
6. Remove the substance.
Use a soft cloth to remove the substance from the disc. The way in which you wipe the cloth severely affects your success! Start at the centre of the disc and wipe outward in a straight line. Do this gently and lightly. Do not follow the circular pattern with which you employed the substance in the first place to remove it; many people mess up the disc by failing to wipe it off in straight lines.
Ensure that all excess grease is gone. Make sure that all of the excess grease is gone. None can remain on the disc if it’s going to work again. Leaving grease on the disc could harm your DVD player as well, which would leave you in even worse shape than when you began! That wouldn’t be the right way to get rid of DVD scratches.
7. Use a disc cleaner.
Dedicated disc cleaners do exist, although they’re much harder to find now than they were ten years ago. So many people buy their movies, music, and games digitally that demand for compact discs has fallen significantly. The demand for disc cleaners has fallen with them. The cheapest ones will run in the vicinity of $15-$20, although the high-end ones could cost as much as $40 or $50.
It’s a larger investment than the other options, so you need to decide if your disc collection is large enough to benefit from a dedicated cleaner. DVDs get scratched often in family households, and so do CDs. Do your film, music, and game collections consist of enough discs to warrant a purchase? Older discs could be expensive and difficult to reacquire, so think about the trade-off in value.
8. Understand the process.
Why does this work? Scratches don’t usually eliminate information on discs. They cause the surface to become uneven, which trips up the laser in the disc reader. The laser doesn’t know where to go next, which causes the “skipping” that we’ve all seen on the screen. Video playback fails without a smooth and continuous surface to read. The surface serves as the laser’s touch point.
The substances we’ve suggested here fill in those crevices, which allows the laser to continue searching the disc’s surface for the video file. Covering up the scratches with toothpaste doesn’t remove enough information to cause a serious skip or crash while reading the DVD. The disc player will read over it for a relatively smooth transition in most cases.
9. Beware of window cleaner.
The ammonia that window cleaner contains could degrade your disc over time. The short-term gain of keeping your discs in working order won’t seem worth it after your entire disc fails to work! The ammonia in window cleaner eats away at plastics. Use a very soft cloth—even a screen cleaning cloth—instead of window cleaner.
That’s how to get rid of DVD scratches quickly. Remove the dust, apply one of these substances gently, and remove all excess grease before trying to play the disc again. Remember to apply the substance in a broadly circular motion along the disc’s lines, and to remove the substance in straight lines outward from the centre of the disc to the edges. Enjoy your freshly repaired disc!