So you are watching your favorite movie on DVD and all of a sudden it starts to stutter and skip or just plain stop dead. You eject it and see that it has some good-sized scratches on the surface. You are worried this is the end of your favorite DVD, but have no fear -- there are some ways to get this bad boy fixed. Here's how to remove scratches from a DVD.
- Understanding the damage. DVDs are like CDs in that they are read in a spiral starting in the center of the disc and continuing to the outer edge. The info is encoded in "bumps" below the surface of the disc. A laser reads these by passing through the surface and reflecting off the "bumps." When the surface is scratched or blemished, the path of the laser is diverted slightly and the player cannot read the disc.
- DVD Cleaner. It is always good to clean the DVD just to make sure the malfunction isn't being caused by something that will just wipe off with a moist cloth. If you hold the DVD near a light and at an angle, you can see the blemishes on the surface. The best tool you can use in cleaning and caring for any disc is a lint-free optical cloth. Most commonly used for cleaning eyeglass lenses, these cloths are soft and won't leave lint when you are done using them. Common rubbing alcohol is a great solution to use when cleaning DVDs. Just put a little on the cloth and rub the surface lightly, always in straight lines from the center out to the edge.
- DVD Repair. Light abrasives such as toothpaste, polishes and cleaners will all fix scratches to some degree but you have to be very careful in using them. Some cleaners are actually no good at all for the surfaces of discs. Stuff that you use on glass is fine because it's alcohol-based, like Windex. Stuff that you use on bathrooms or floors are not so good; bathroom cleaners such as Tilex use bleach, which is harmful to DVDs.
I recommend using a solution or kit specifically designed for DVD scratch removal. These kits usually come with a solution and a cloth, like this example I found at Buy.com. There is even something that works like a wet wipe with the solution already applied to the wipe. Whatever you decide to use, make sure that it's appropriate for disc repair and that you use a light touch when applying it. Put a little of your solution on your cloth and, starting from the center of the disc, gently wipe out to the edge in a straight line. Do not use a circular motion or side-to-side, but only straight from the center to outside. Rub it in lightly then wipe clean with the same lint-free cloth.
- DVD/CD Resurfacing. There are a couple of devices that will give your disc a total surface make-over. You usually put the DVD into the device and then spray the included solution on it, close the device and spin the disc using a handle or, in some scenarios, by pressing the On button. These are pretty good tools and will, in most situations, cure any of your scratch problems.
- Care for your discs. When you are done cleaning and fixing your DVDs, make sure you put them in a safe place. The original case is the best place for it, but if you want to put it in a holder, look for one with soft backings that won't damage your disc any further. Disc repair is a long process, so prevention is the best method. You can also just get some jewel cases. Stores sell them pretty cheaply and they are a good place to keep DVDs, much better than the floor.
Removing scratches can be done, but it does involve some time and effort. If you have a scratched DVD, these steps should help fix it, but remember, prevention is always the best method so store your discs appropriately.