How to Fix a Scratched CD

Even though CD’s and DVD’s are becoming obsolete at an increasing rate, they are still a key component of storing and transferring data. If you have old disks that have accumulated scratches over time, or a like-new console game without a scratch protection guarantee, you may think your data is lost forever. Think again! Here we outline some of the best methods of restoring functionality to your disk.


1. Before You Begin

2. Cleaning

3. Method 1: Toothpaste

4. Method 2: Vaseline

5. Repairing Damaged Foil

6. Alternative Options


Before You Begin

Several important things you should know before reading further…

  • Try burning a copy of the disk. Often times, your computer will be able to make it past parts of the disk that skip or are normally unreadable. If you can make a perfect copy of your disk, it will save you a lot of headache in the long run.
  • Attempting to clean a disk has the potential to damage it even further! Exercise caution when handling or cleaning disks that you value.
  • Always hold your disk in a way that your fingers do not touch the silver side. Any amount of oil or dirt can lower the chances of your disk being readable.
  • Only use lint-free cloth to wipe your disks. For our examples, we cut an under shirt into 6×6 squares, and it produced excellent results.
  • To get a better view of any scratches, hold your disk at an angle towards light. Any imperfections will become easily visible.
  • When you are wiping off your disk, always wipe from the centre of the disk outwards, and never in a circular motion! Wiping in a circular motion can further damage your disk.
  • Always let your disk air dry! Using heat (such as prolonged exposure to the sun) to dry your disk can cause further damage, as can drying it with a cloth.




  • Eyeglass Cleaner or Rubbing Alcohol
  • Q-Tip or Lint-Free Cloth


Soak your material in your cleaning solution and wipe your disk off gently. If using a Q-Tip, small circular motions are okay as long as you do not apply much pressure. For a lint-free cloth, ensure you wipe in a straight path outwards from the centre of the disk to avoid scratching it further. Rinse off the disk with warm water when you are done, and allow it to air dry.


Method 1: Toothpaste

When we first read about this method.. we were pretty sceptical. After some further research, it turned out that the vast majority of people are able to make their disks readable again simply by polishing them gently with toothpaste. Note that only paste toothpaste works for this, as it has slightly abrasive content. Gel  toothpaste just won’t do the trick.


  • Non-Gel Toothpaste
  • Lint-Free Cloth


Squeeze some toothpaste onto your finger and rub it onto the bottom of the disk, until it is sufficiently covered like the above image.


Use a dry, lint-free cloth and buff out the disk until most of the toothpaste has been absorbed (shown above). Rinse the disk well under warm water, until you can no longer feel the toothpaste on any part of the disk. Allow the disk to fully air dry. Here are our results:


Before Toothpaste Polishing.


After Toothpaste Polishing.

Method 2: Vaseline

Although this method may sound just as odd as Method 1, it yielded the best results by far. We managed to restore a mangled Windows 95 flight simulator disk to perfect working condition. The downside to this method is that it is only temporary. We recommend using this method, then immediately backing your disk up onto your computer.

Apply enough Vaseline to cover the surface of the disk, using your finger or a Q-Tip (above). Buff the disk out with a dry, lint-free cloth until the Vaseline is no longer visible. The end result will amaze you.

Before Vaseline Polishing.

After Vaseline Polishing.

Test your disk. If it works, immediately create a backup copy! This solution is only temporary.

Repairing Damaged Foil


  • Felt Pen
  • Masking Tape

To check for damaged foil, hold your disk up to a light (not the sun!). Any parts where there is foil damage, light should seep through, making it much easier to see.


If there is not a large amount of foil missing, there is a good chance that this will allow your disk to run.


Take your felt pen, and colour over any of the marks (above).


Now, take your masking tape and place pieces over your markings, being careful not to smudge the ink!

Note: use this as a last-ditch effort! If you attempt to remove the masking tape, there is a good possibility that it will peel off even more foil!


Alternative Options

If you have a severely damaged disk and none of the above methods managed to fix it, it’s not over yet. A good refinishing product or service is always your best bet, but can run you a couple bucks.


Buy a Disk Refinisher

There are many disk refinishers on the market. High-quality bulk refinishers, or handheld refinishers meant for occasional use. If you have a large collection of DVDs, games or CDs, it may be worth your investment for a higher-end disk refinisher. Out of the three products we bought and tested, the Skipdr Xbox disc cleaner came out on top. Although it claims to be an ‘Xbox disk cleaner’, it will clean any type of disk you give it. This product is definitely worth your investment.


FixYourStuff Recommends: Skipdr Xbox Disc Repair/Cleaner

Product Features

  • 1 Disc Repair System fixes scratches that cause a disc to skip, freeze or fail to play
  • Motorized repair process smoothes surface scratches to renew the disc’s protective layer, leaving disc data unaffected
  • Patented FlexiWheel repairs up to 25 discs and works gently enough to safely repair the same disc multiple times

Skipdr is by far our favourite disk repair device. There are many similar products out there of the same style, but this was by far the best deal we could find. We tested 10 disks on each device, and Skipdr managed to repair 9 of 10 disks! The other two devices only managed 4 of 10, and 5 of 10. Definitely worth your investment.


Have it Professionally Refinished

If you have a local movie/CD/games trader, chances are they have a high-quality disk refinisher on the premise. Its worth a shot to offer money in exchange for them to refinish your disk!

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