How to Repair Your Scratched DVD

By Ian Kelly

An unreadable data DVD could lead to serious consequences, especially if the data has not been backed up. If it is a video or a game DVD, it could have a negative impact on family entertainment. Either way, restoring the DVD is important. CDs and DVDs can take a lot of punishment; however, when the surface gets scratched too deeply or in the wrong direction, a disk will stop working. In most cases, scratches can be buffed out or reduced.

Things You'll Need

  • Soft lint-free cloth
  • Dishwashing detergent
  • Paper towel
  • Towel
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • White toothpaste
  • Silicone-based furniture polish

Step 1

Inspect the DVD by angling the surface towards the light. Scratches radiating outwards from the center can cause problems, but they are not that serious. Pay special attention to scratches running in the direction of the DVD's rotation. Such scratches will scatter infrared light and make the disk unreadable.

Step 2

Wash the DVD with a soft lint-free cloth, dishwashing detergent and warm water. Don't rub the cloth in a circular motion, but rub in straight lines from the center to the rim. Fold the DVD between two sheets of paper towel and mop the surface dry. Try the DVD in your player or computer. If it is still unreadable, go to Step 4.

Step 3

If the faulty DVD contains data, try copying the information onto your hard disk. The cleaning may have been sufficient to allow this to be done.

Step 4

Place a towel on a flat surface. Prepare a paste of bicarbonate of soda and white toothpaste with just a dash of warm water. Polish the DVD with a dab of paste smeared onto a soft lint-free cloth. Do not rub in a circular pattern; this may make matters worse. Rub from the hub of the DVD straight out towards the rim. Buff the surface with light to moderate downward pressure, focusing on the scratches detected in Step 1.

Step 5

Wash the DVD with dish washing detergent as described above and try the disk out. If it still refuses to work, proceed to Step 6.

Step 6

Spray the surface of the DVD with a very light coat of silicone-based furniture polish and wipe off any excess. This transparent material will settle into the cracks and may make them invisible to the disk reader in your DVD player or computer disc drive. Lay the disk flat until the polish has dried completely. Try the DVD. If the disk works, copy the data immediately; the furniture polish treatment is only a temporary solution.

Step 7

Take the disk to a music or disk rental store that sells used DVDs. These stores are equipped with heavy-duty DVD-polishing machines; they may be able to recover the disk---for a price.