I have two children; they have their favorite DVDs; and sometimes mommy needs them to be watching those DVDs. So when the favorite DVDs get scratched and stop playing, it’s a problem!
Whether it’s DVDs, CDs, or game disks for your Xbox or Wii, there are ways to fix and buff out scratches. The Internet is full of solutions — claims that handy products you might have around the house will fix those scratches. So here are the unscientific results of my attempts to fix disk scratches with common household substances — from best (#1) to worst (#4).
Methodology: I used two forms of scratched disks, ones that had small scratches resulting in a few skips or pixilation points on the disk, and then seriously scratched disks that wouldn’t play at all in my DVD player.
#1 Car Wax
I took a fingernail file to a Barney disk (boy was that satisfying), and when I placed it in my DVD player, the screen read “invalid disk” (again, wonderfully joyful).
I put Turtle car wax (liquid form) onto a soft cloth and buffed the disk in an in-to-out motion (not wax on wax off /Mr. Miyagi style). I rinsed the disk thoroughly and let it dry.
I placed the disk back into the player and, amazingly, it went straight to the menu and played flawlessly. The purple dinosaur rides again, and car wax did the job!
#2 Furniture Polish
I have always used Pledge furniture polish on scratched DVDs, and when I tried it on a minimally scratched disk, Pledge brought it back to life easily. But with a seriously scratched disk that wouldn’t play, I had to polish twice with Pledge for it to come back to life. It was a close second to the car wax — and it smelled better. I think any furniture polish would work; I just used what I had under the sink.
WHAT? A banana? Yep, this was advised by multiple sites online, so I had to try it. First, I rubbed the banana itself all over the disk, then I finished by rubbing the waxy interior of the peel all around the disk’s surface. I cleaned it well with water, polished with a soft cloth, and let it dry.
The results were pretty good, especially considering I had such low expectations. The minimally scratched disk was good as new after the banana treatment. It does make some sense: that waxy stuff on the peel is pretty slippery — as I’m sure you know from all those years watching cartoon characters slip on banana peels.
But apparently, it wasn’t waxy enough to fix the seriously scratched and unplayable disk. Even after multiple banana cleanings including soft-cloth buff-outs in between, I couldn’t get the unplayable disk back from the dead with just the Chiquita treatment.
Toothpaste, especially the abrasive baking soda kind seems too rough for removing scratches; I was worried it would add scratches of its own to the disk, but I gave it a try. On the minimally scratched disk, I rubbed very gently with Colgate as I tried to clean off scratches and scrapes. When I put the disk in the player, the area where the disk previously skipped was still skipping. So I tried again and this time used baking-soda paste and really rubbed it in hard. When I tried again, the skipping area played straight through — no problems. Turns out there is a fair amount of extra poly-carbonate layered over the data pits on the disk, so buffing can take a top layer off and minimize the scratches.
But when I tried the toothpaste trick on the seriously scratched and unplayable disk, it was completely unsuccessful at resurrecting it. I tried three separate times to buff with toothpaste and then rinse/dry, but it just didn’t fix the disk.