Fix Scratched CD with Toothpaste

Question About Scratched Disc Repair

Can I use the fix scratched CD with toothpaste method on my scratched disc? I have a scratched CD (on the base or non label side) that will not play properly in my drive. Is this remedy for fixing scratches simply a homemade remedy that has no repair value or will it work?

Play Disc in Another Drive

If you have a CD or other type of optical disc such as a DVD or Blu-ray that is not playing properly either because of scratches or some other reason, the first thing to try is playing the disc in another drive. Some drives play discs better than others. If it plays well, then make a copy. If other drives still do not play the disc well, then you need some sort of disc repair in order to make the CD fully playable again.

Fix Scratched CD with Toothpaste

One remedy that has been proposed to fix scratched CDs is toothpaste. Toothpaste has been suggested because it is essentially an abrasive polish. The theory is that the toothpaste will polish out the scratch so that the reading laser light will no longer be affected by the scratch. Although the toothpaste may lessen the effect of a large scratch, what often occurs is that numerous smaller scratches are created, which may cause even more problems that initially existed.

Scratch Repair Experiment

Let us take a closer work at whether this treatment for scratches on optical discs is effective or not.

Initial Analysis

In this experiment, a CD-R was recorded with information until capacity was almost reached. It was then analyzed to determine the error rate pattern on the disc. 

Error analysis of a CD-R after recording. The disc is in very good condition in terms of error rate.

As is evident from the above image, the error rate of the recorded disc is low and this is a very good quality disc in terms of the error rate. 

Circular Scratch on Disc

If a scratch is made on the disc (in this case a small circular scratch of about 1.5 cm), the error rate will rise when the scratched area of the CD-R is reached. This is illustrated in the picture below when focusing on the 26 to 31-minute mark of the disc.

Error rate of a CD-R after the disc has been scratched in the circular direction. The error rate has risen significantly in the area of the scratch.

Polishing with Toothpaste

Next, the fix scratched CD with toothpaste method is used. Some toothpaste is applied to the scratched area of the CD-R and then a moistened soft bristled toothbrush is used to rub the area of the scratch. Light pressure was applied. The paste was then cleaned off with water and the disc dried. As mentioned above, the toothpaste and rubbing with the brush created many smaller scratches, creating a dull surface in the area of the rubbing. This disc was then analyzed and the results are presented below.

Error rate of a CD-R disc after toothpaste was used to try and reduce the effect of the circular scratch. The result was a slight increase in errors.

The result is a small increase in the error rate of the disc. Therefore, the toothpaste treatment was repeated as described above, but this time with harder rubbing. The error analysis of the disc is shown below.

Error rate of a CD-R disc after a second toothpaste treatment was used to try and reduce the effect of the circular scratch. The result was an increase in errors in other areas of the disc.

The area of the disc containing the main circular scratch has not changed much, but now more errors are starting to appear on the disc as noted at the 10-minute mark.

The fix scratched cd with toothpaste treatment for fixing scratches on a CD was then repeated a third time with even more vigorous rubbing and the error analysis after the treatment and subsequent cleaning of the disc is shown below.

Error rate of a CD-R disc after a third toothpaste scratch removal treatment was used to reduce the effect of the circular scratch. A large error increased resulted.

Now the errors have increased substantially, and the disc is in a condition significantly worse than the problems caused by the initial scratch on the CD.

Therefore, in summary, the chances of success using toothpaste to fix scratched CDs or DVDs are slim. However, if no other options are available, it might be worth a try, keeping in mind that the readability problems with the disc may become worse.

Disc Sanding and Repolishing

The most successful scratch repair remedies (that do not necessarily work well all the time) involve sanding the disc and then repolishing the plastic using specialized equipment so that it is one hundred percent transparent once again. This is one of the problems with the fix scratched CD with toothpaste method, since it is difficult to polish out the additional scratches and restore transparency to the plastic after rubbing the toothpaste on the CD.

More information can be found at the DVD Repair page.

Comments on Scratched Disc Repair

Toothpaste and Scratch Repair

I have a number of CDs and DVDs that were never put back into their cases after use. After months of just being left lying around, I decided to finally deal with the mess. Many of the discs had scratches and were not working properly. I tried the fix scratched CD with toothpaste method on some disposal discs. Unfortunately, the toothpaste did not remedy the problem. I have to say that toothpaste is not a good away of eliminating scratches for CDs and DVDs.

For the discs I wanted to keep, I brought them to a used CD store. At the store they had equipment that restored my discs. It only cost me about two to three dollars per disc and the discs work just fine now.


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