How to Repair a DVD Disc That Won't Play Back

By James Clark

Playback problems with a DVD typically are caused by one of four factors: The DVD is dirty and smudged; the laser lens in the DVD player's disc drive needs cleaning; the DVD player no longer is tracking properly; or the disc is scratched. Before you throw away that DVD or turn it into a Frisbee, try these steps to determine whether the problem is truly with the disc. If so, look into whether it can be repaired. If all else fails, make friends with the clerks at your local movie-rental outlet, who encounter plenty of damaged discs and may have the know-how and equipment needed to fix them.

Things You'll Need

  • DVD repair kit from an electronics storeCotton swabs and Q-tipsRubbing alcoholWindow cleaner in a spray bottleDVD lens cleaning product Friend at a DVD-rental store

Step 1

Clean the DVD using a store-bought repair kit, or use these methods that employ household cleaning supplies.

Step 2

Spray a light mist of window cleaner on the disc. Wipe it off with a clean cloth. Don't use napkins or paper towels, which are coarse and might further scratch the disc.

Step 3

Insert a lens cleaning disc in your DVD player and spin it as recommended by the manufacturer, typically two minutes.

Step 4

Test the DVD in at least two different machines or a DVD player and a computer with a DVD drive to make sure it's the disc and not the equipment that is malfunctioning

Step 5

Fix scratches on a DVD if it still won't play by applying a dab of toothpaste (squeeze a bit on your fingertip) with a Q-tip. Work the paste gently into the scratches and across the surface of the disc.

Step 6

Wipe off the toothpaste with a clean, damp cloth.

Step 7

Dry the disc immediately with a clean cloth.

Step 8

Use a non-abrasive cleaning product such as Brasso if the disc still fails to play, using Q-tips to rub the cleaning product into the scratches.

Step 9

Put the DVD in its case and take it to a DVD-rental store, where the inventory undergoes plenty of wear and tear. Ask the clerks if they can use in-store equipment to try and clean or repair your DVD.

References & Resources