A scratch on a DVD may or may not affect its play in a disc player, although sometimes, scratches cause skips or prevent the player from reading the encoded material below the DVD surface. This can be frustrating, and it doesn’t only occur when DVDs are abused. Sometimes people will buy a brand new disc that will have a perceptible scratch on it and won’t play properly. There are many potential suggestions for how to fix a scratched DVD, each with some merit and application depending upon the degree of damage. Jeweler's cloths and DVD cleaning cloths or solutions may work, if used correctly, and there are also machines that can be used to resurface the disc.
If the DVD was just purchased, it’s not a good idea to attempt to repair it. Instead, return it to the store where it was purchased. Not all stores will accept returns of opened discs, since they may suspect customers of attempting to copy DVD material and return the disc. Provided that you're asking for a direct exchange for another disc that isn’t scratched, you probably won't have too much trouble. When possible, open the copy of the replacement disc and inspect it in front of the store’s personnel to be certain no scratches are present.
When the disc is old or simply misused, another route is required to fix the problem, and these methods may work for other discs like CDs and video games. First inspect the scratch. If it is a single scratch on one side of the disc only, it may be fairly easy to repair. If the scratch runs in a circular pattern, it may be far more difficult to fix and could require professional help.
The simplest method is to use jewelers’ cloths and simply buff the DVD in straight lines across the disc. Any disc repair site will remind people to never buff in circular patterns because this may make the scratches worse. Special DVD cleaning cloths can be used as well, but don’t use just any cloth, as some may actually make scratching worse.
When simple cleaning alone doesn’t work, it may be possible to repair a scratched DVD by using cleaning solution designed for discs. Others recommend using toothpaste that has baking soda or furniture cleaner. The solution is applied to the DVD and rubbed off (straight, not circular) with DVD or jewelers’ cloths. Rinse the solution off with water, briefly dry it with a dry cloth, and then allow it to sit and dry fully before using it.
Sometimes, despite best efforts, it’s impossible to fix a scratched DVD with hand polishing and buffing. In this case, you can consider purchasing any of several disc buffing or repairing machines. These can be quite expensive, but if you have a number of discs that need to be fixed, it might be worth the price. The machines often get good reviews and may help extend the life of your DVDs.
Another option is to talk to local gaming and video rental stores to see if they can buff or resurface the disc. Many stores offer disc resurfacing relatively inexpensively, and they may be able to fix more seriously damaged discs. This is usually the one method that works when scratches are in circular pattern around the disc. It still doesn’t work in all cases, but many times, resurfacing is successful and will restore the disc to normal play.
One last suggestion many tech experts have on this subject is that people not try to fix a scratched DVD when the damage doesn't affect how the disc plays. Ultimately, polishing and resurfacing can wear down the disc and reduce its life. Only attempt to fix the disc if the scratch is actually causing problems.