How to Repair Scratches on a Window


Minor scratches to windows—whether in a home window or in an automobile window or windshield—can be repaired using a few everyday household items. The most important question you’ll have to answer is whether the damage is slight enough to repair by yourself or if you’ll need professional help. You may end up having to replace the glass if the scratch is deep enough to have caused structural damage or if the repair itself will leave you with a marred surface and distorted view through the glass.

Things You'll Need

  • Toothpaste
  • Clean, soft cloths
  • Razor blade
  • Vinegar
  • Mustard powder
  • Ammonia or glass cleaner
  • Determine whether or not the scratch is too deep to repair. Run your fingernail over the glass surface. If your nail gets caught easily in the scratch, it’s probably too deep to repair (at least with any home remedies. You could take it to a professional glass repairer for an opinion). You might have to replace the pane.

  • Clean the affected area of glass thoroughly. Use a soft cloth to apply a coat of toothpaste (a white, mildly abrasive brand, perhaps with baking soda; don’t use a gel type) to the scratch. Rub generously in a circular motion into the scratch and let it harden for a few minutes.

  • Wipe away the dry toothpaste with a clean, soft cloth (you can use a razor blade to remove most of the toothpaste). You can use nail polish, too. Buff the scratch in the direction of the defect. If the scratch isn’t completely gone, repeat the process.

  • Apply a mixture of equal parts vinegar and mustard powder to a deeper scratch (try this if the toothpaste method doesn’t work and if the fingernail test didn’t convince you to replace the glass). Again, rub the paste in, let it dry, wipe away and buff. If this doesn’t work, seek professional help or replace the glass.

  • Clean the window after repairs, using a commercial glass cleaner or an ammonia-water solution (about two ounces of ammonia per half-gallon of water).

Tips & Warnings

  • If possible, remove the glass pane from its window or door and lay it on a flat surface (cover the surface with a sheet of cloth). This will make the process less awkward and safer.
  • Extremely minor scratches can sometimes be buffed out with a soft cloth and furniture polish.
  • Avoid scratches in the first place. Use soft cloths and stay away from newspapers, rough rags and over-scrubbing. Remove paint or caulking with a razor blade (gently) before you attempt to clean with a rag and spray cleaner. Otherwise, the paint or caulk can scratch the window when rubbing it.
  • If you can’t remove the glass from its casing and lay it on a flat surface, be careful when rubbing and buffing. You don’t want to apply too much pressure and shatter the glass. Damaged windows are particularly vulnerable to shattering.
  • Trying to remove deep scratches, even if apparently successful, can leave the window structurally weakened and create defects in the window that cause strange, prismlike or rainbowlike effects (similar to an 18th-century pane of glass).

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