How to Get Scratches Out of CDs

Cleaning or polishing a scratched CD usually works.
Cleaning or polishing a scratched CD usually works. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Compact disks record, store and play music on demand. Music lovers appreciate the accessibility a CD offers, but even a tiny scratch can inhibit it from playing properly. If your CDs are skipping, cutting back or not playing at all, try the following methods to get the scratches out and your music back. If the first method doesn’t work, try the second, third and fourth.

Things You'll Need

  • Gentle commercial cleansing agent
  • Baking soda toothpaste
  • Lint-free cloth

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Make sure your CD is actually scratched and not just dusty. Hold the CD with one finger in the middle and your lint-free cloth in the opposite hand. Place the CD close to your mouth and breathe a long shallow breath onto the recorded surface. Immediately use the lint-free cloth to wipe away the moisture your breath created. Use a small, circular motion to remove the moisture and dust. Put the CD back into its player to see if it works. If it’s still skipping, move on to Step 2.

If your CD is more than a little dusty, take it to your sink for a thorough cleaning. Wet the CD with a small amount of lukewarm water and add a tiny drop of a gentle cleanser, such as Ivory or Dove. Use your finger to rub small circles from the center of the disk outward. Wash away the soap and set your disk on the lint-free cloth to air dry. Once complete, check to see if it plays properly. If not, move on to Step 3.

Only touch the outer rim and inner hole once the CD is dry.
Only touch the outer rim and inner hole once the CD is dry. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Apply a pea-sized dab of baking soda toothpaste to the recording side of your CD. Use your finger and a lint-free cloth to polish the CD. The very fine grit in baking soda toothpaste works to remove a thin layer of material from the CD, which can make the scratch less deep. Polish from the inner circle outward, and rinse thoroughly when complete. Set the CD aside on a clean lint-free cloth to dry. Try to play the CD. If it's still not working, move on to Step 4.

Have the CD professionally refinished. Contact the store where you purchased the CD. These stores usually offer CD refinishing services. If they don’t, they can direct you to someplace where you can have it done. The cost is low, usually less than $5. If you have a lot of scratched CDs, the cost-per-repair gets incrementally lower.

Tips & Warnings

  • Periodically go through your CD collection and look for scratches. When you find a CD that's scratched but still plays well, make a backup copy. You'll save yourself the effort of repairing a scratched disk.


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