I have kids, which means I have scratched game discs that my systems can't read.

Several months ago, I watched a video demonstrating how to repair scratched game discs using car polish. I tried that, and it didn't work. After a little more research, I found and purchased this plastic polishing kit from Amazon. Following the instructions (and using some ultra fine sandpaper to sand out the really bad scratches), I was able polish and sand out the scratches on one disc, while another remains unplayable, despite repeated repair attempts.

Using the plastic polishing kit requires a lot of time and effort. I'm lazy and want it to be easier and simpler.

Is this the best way to repair a disc? Are there any repair tools that are generally accepted, known, and proven to work? Do any game publishers support replacing damaged discs?

  • 1
    I've had a lot of success by visiting game shops that do repairs. The one I go to uses a very interesting machine... but I don't actually know how it works. But, it was able to fix a critical scratch, so it was beyond worth it.
    – Grace Note
    Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 23:06
  • 3
    It's not as well known, but some publishing companies will allow you to send the damaged disc to them and will send you another one out for a very small fee. Check the game's instruction manual for a telephone number and give it a try.
    – Andy E
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 10:04
  • 2
    You get Steam :)
    – OddCore
    Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 11:45
  • scratched game discs are just normal discs with data on them. Question off-topic here. I suggest moving this to superuser
    – DrFish
    Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 8:00
  • 1
    your best bet is to bring it to a shop that has a disc resurfacing machine. there are many gimmicky machines out there, like the hand cranked ones you find at bestbuy or gamestop. those work for very mild scratches, but for a thorough resurfacing you need a place that has one of these: azuradisc.com/s.nl/it.A/id.2601/.f -- here's a video of it in action: youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OFDUydVq4Go Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 14:25

13 Answers 13


Go to your local game shop. That's usually the safest way to have a disc repaired, as they have a precision machine that can remove just enough of the plastic.

Otherwise, I've always used toothpaste and a glass cleaning cloth. If you take off too much of the plastic, you'll ruin the disk.

  • I'll call around. I'm not too worried about taking off too much plastic: that's the problem, polishing doesn't take off enough. Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 23:15
  • I've taken a few discs now with pretty good success. The game I originally tried to fix by hand still won't work, but I blame my polishing-by-hand. Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 11:50
  • everytime i use toothpaste to repair my scratched disks, it will NEVER work. people say it does work but i never got it to work for me
    – user16597
    Commented Dec 17, 2011 at 4:23
  • I once repaired a disc with toothpaste. The cut was deep and short. By applying toothpaste, I was able to smooth the cut and the disc was readable again. Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 16:02

When a disc is scratched, the data usually isn't touched (if it gets down to the data layer, then that's a seriously deep gouge). Rather, what's happened is that the clear lacquer over the data layer has been scratched, and the scratch screws up the laser trying to read the data underneath.

The best way of repairing a scratched disk is to find a material with similar refractive index, and use that to fill in the scratch.

  • Do you have any material suggestions? Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 23:16
  • 2
    @splattered bits: The clear material is polycarbonate, which has a refractive index of ~1.585. Ideally you'd want something with the same RI that you can dissolve in a solvent, fill the scratch with, and then let the solvent evaporate.
    – Anon.
    Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 23:27
  • Novus Fine Scratch Remover #2
    – Mazura
    Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 3:10

I am a father, I have unreadable discs that cost between $30 and $60. I watched all the popular videos and this is what I found.

Discs are made of poly-carbonate layers with a reflective data layer sandwiched in between. When the plastic gets scratched it causes the laser to refract (bend) and hit the wrong section of data. This means the data is out of order and missing pieces for the player even though all the data is there in perfect condition (as long as the scratches don't reach that far. This would be obvious since that's a VERY deep scratch).

Toothpaste, petroleum jelly, car polishes, and even bananas are suggested to fill these scratches and stop the refraction but that rarely actually helps. Games that play after this were probably more dirty than scratched but even if the scratch was filled none of these are more than a very temporary fix since they aren't hard enough to permanently fill the scratch.

I am starting a conspiracy theory regarding the irresponsible use of toothpaste as either a plot by toothpaste manufacturers or perhaps an evil dentist union.

The only way to repair scratches is with a professional disc repair machine. Full disclosure I own and operate one of these as a mail in service. There are many such services but when I used a very popular one and it took 5 weeks to get my kid's games back I decided there was a market for another one.

Try local shops if they are close. Many play and trades will have a machine like this and will repair it on the spot for about $5. Full disclosure: I run one such place.

  • The toothpaste trick has it's roots in removing scratches from pieces of glass. Making the same thing work on discs is trickier, but uses the same principle (polishing the edges away so they won't be noticed that bad). Definitely no conspiracy here.
    – Mast
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 8:18

I use toothpaste. Works swell.

  • I’ve tried that before with little success. It definitely depends on the disc, the nature of the scratch, the toothpaste, and the toothbrush/cloth/etc. However I have read enough vouches for it that it’s worth trying.
    – Synetech
    Commented Dec 17, 2011 at 20:25

I've seen folks have reasonable success with machines like Skip Doctor, which does the disc resurfacing for you. It's what I've seen them use at places like GameStop. Figure worst case scenario, the disc wasn't playable before and it ends up... still unplayable.

  • We've had luck using a similar device with Wii games that my neighbor's kids left out and got scratched up, and recovered some other CDs and DVDs (some computer software). It's so much easier than trying to hand polish, although I've only done the hand-polish thing on screens (cellphone, DS, etc.)
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 14:27

Okay, so I tried the hair conditioner and the toothpaste method neither worked for me, however, what did work was putting the disc in a sink full of lukewarm water and johnsons baby bath oil, and leaving it for about 10 seconds then using a soft face flannel to dry it, put it in the PS2 and voila! It worked :D


I've heard that rubbing peanut oil on the disc is a good way to smooth out scratches. That said, I've never had occasion to try it and you'd want to be careful about gumming up your drive.

  • 1
    Actually, one time I had a CD that was kind of scratched and scuffed up and giving me trouble. After basically giving up on it, I—for whatever reason—rubbed it with an oily paper towel that had some kitchen grease (eg chicken/bacon/vegetable/etc.) on it. After then wiping it off with a bit of clean toilet paper, surprisingly, I found that the CD was suddenly readable! I’ve tried it again several times since then but have not had quite as much success as the first time.
    – Synetech
    Commented Dec 17, 2011 at 20:29

Some games manufacturers will replace damaged discs, however they charge a fee for this.

For example, EA will replace games for between $13 and $20. In the UK they charge £7.50 to £10.

Another option is insurance which is offered by some stores. For example, in the UK HMV will insure a game for one year for £1.

  1. Get the disc that is broken then put it in your bathroom sink.
  2. You'll need to get some alcohol and a glass cleaning rag.
  3. Pour some alcohol on the disc(make sure you have enough to cover up the disc, and block the drain in the sink)
  4. Put some water in the alcohol.
  5. Let it soak for about 15 mins.
  6. Let dry for 10 mins. Then wipe off excess with glass cleaning rag. And you are done. Plus if you want the lasers to work better you can gently wipe the cd off with a clorox cleaning wipe.

This always did wonders for my disks: http://howtofixstuff.blogspot.com/2012/01/how-to-fix-scratched-cd.html, especially the shoe polish.

Repair Using A Banana

  • Open up a banana and apply it to the disk.
  • Wipe the excess banana pieces down with the banana peel. The wax from the peel will help polish and further clean the disk.
  • Take a clean cotton cloth and wipe the entire surface of the disk. Be sure to apply moderate pressure while moving in a circular motion. This should be done for around 5 minutes.
  • Spray the disc with glass cleaner and wipe it clean.

Repair using Toothpaste

  • Clean the disc with a mild soap and warm water. This will remove any oils and finger marks.
  • Dry the disc with a lint-free cloth.
  • Apply the toothpaste on the disk.
  • Rub the toothpaste on the disc in a straight motion (not in a circular motion) from the center to the outer edges.
  • Let it sit for 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove the toothpaste and dry the disk. Make sure to dry with care so not to scratch the disk further.

You can also try furniture polish.such as Pledge on a soft cloth and buff till dry & shiney. The wax in the polish fills in the scratches so the laser on your dvd player will glide right over them.

If all else fails, you can go to your local video store and for 5 bucks they will fix it for you.

  • Could you elaborate on the content of that article?
    – fredley
    Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 15:03

Rub the disc that will not read with brasso vigorously for about 1 minute then wipe with polishing cloth (yellow duster) with small amount of spit (or water if this disturbs you) then use the toothpaste method, then repeat the brasso for best results. Now install the game (if possible) this should work 9 times out of 10.


I had been using toothpaste, but it made my CD even worse so I thought vaseline (petroleum jelly) might work. Well it didn't - so I put water and dishwashing detergent in a container, put in the cd and left it for about 15 minutes.

Afterwards I rinsed the cd with warm water and dried it with paper towels. Then I put it in the Wii console and finally it was working!

Hope it helps!

  • This answer adds nothing that has not already been said or discussed. So I have to downvote and report it as being a bad subjective answer.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 16:03
  • 1
    @Ramhound bad subjective, just because it repeats? I don't think that is entirely the right way to go about that.
    – user11502
    Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 3:52
  • 2
    @Ramhound You should never feel obligated to downvote and flag a post. A downvote is sufficient if you feel it's not a great post, but it's not a rule that you have to do so, and it's certainly not a rule that you have to flag things because they've been said in some form already.
    – GnomeSlice
    Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 3:53

Hair conditioner. I used "Head and Shoulders", but can't speak for other brands. It only works temporarily. Apply the conditioner by starting from the center of the disc and rubbing towards the outside in a straight line.

It doesn't totally remove the scratches; some scratching will still be visible. Still, it will play well for a few days and it is an easy at-home fix.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .