How to Recover Scratched DVDs

By Jay White

February 11, 2015   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

The age of digital media is upon us, and many people are now streaming most of their movies. As a result, DVD replacements for favorite movies are getting harder to find. However, DVD sets are cropping up for almost nothing at flea markets, garage sales and used media stores. The only problem? Sometimes almost free means a little scratched as well. The good news, however, is that scratched does not mean ruined. Here are a few ways to try and clean up those scratched DVDs and get them back into working order:

Step One: Cleanup

The first thing to try with a scratched DVD is to polish it up and make sure that the scratches are, in fact, scratches and not dirt. A little bit of cleaner that is designed for plastic lenses and a lint-free microfiber cloth are the best way to work on these without accidentally scratching them yourself. Place it in the DVD player to check.

Step Two: Polish

Warning! This step should never be done with Blu-Ray Disks! The makeup of a blu-ray is not the same as a standard DVD, and buffing the surface of it will lose memory. However, if the DVD you are fixing is standard, read on. The point of this step is to try and buff out small scratches. It takes just a little bit of a polishing compound, rubbed across the disk in straight lines (little circles will just interfere with the disk reader later). Compounds that work include a designated DVD polisher, as well as automotive polishing compound and toothpaste (not gel). Once again, after this step is complete, try the DVD in a player before continuing on.

Step Three: Fill in the Cracks

If the DVD is still scratched, don’t lose hope. There are a couple of things you can try and do to fill in the cracks and get the DVD working again. First, you can try and fill the cracks with vaseline. This requires rubbing it on the whole surface of the DVD, and then cleaning the DVD off again in a perpendicular motion to the direction of the scratch. You may need an alcohol based cleaner to get the vaseline off of the rest of the DVD surface. If this system ends up working, you can either choose to reapply the vaseline if and when it disappears, or you can use something more permanent, like clear nail polish, to replace it.

Jay White

I started Dumb Little Man many years ago so great authors, writers and bloggers could share their life "hacks" and tips for success with everyone. I hope you find something you like!

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