What to Do When a Scratched DVD Won’t Play

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Hey Bubbas,

a digital bump

What happens when your movie freezes and won’t play, or stutters along because the scratched DVD won’t play? Most likely, it’s a booger. (The following information applies to boogered up music CD’s as well.) If you take it out, and can spot a booger, or a wad of dust, or a speck of Jr.’s peanut butter… take a soft, (preferably lint free) cloth and wipe it off. If it’s really covered in snot, wash it with a mild detergent in the sink, and again, carefully dry it with a lint free cloth.

Still nothing?  Before you go any further, try playing it in another player, at the same point in the movie. Try it in your computer’s DVD player. If it gets stuck again, then it’s definitely on the DVD itself. If’ it plays OK, then your original player may have a dirty laser lens, or some other problem.

If it’s sure enough the DVD, the folks at geeksaresexy.net have a pretty easy solution, using some common household products:

The only things you’ll need to do that is a soft cotton swab and a little bit of mild abrasive, such as Brasso. Be careful, Brasso emits fumes and can be very irritating. Perform the following steps in a well-ventilated area:

  1. Imbue your cotton swab with a little dab of Brasso.
  2. Gently polish the damaged area of your CD or DVD using a small circular motion until the scratch disappears or at least subdues.
  3. Rinse the media.

Keep in mind, Brasso is a gritty paste, it’s abrasive. But just like polishing a car  or brushing your teeth, those tiny, gritty particles will actually serve to polish out a smooth surface. As a matter of fact, other sources actually recommend trying toothpaste and car wax/polish on DVD surfaces!  I’ve seen “Pledge” recommended, car rubbing compound, jeweler’s polish, and plastic polish.  The more abrasive the solution, the more risk you have in introducing more scratches rather than polishing out the old one. BE CAREFUL. Polish and buff only along the scratch, and in motions radially across the disc, NOT around and around the circular motion of the whole DVD.  You want to smooth across the scratch; if you travel around the disc, you risk cutting grooves along the same lines the laser will travel.

Professional solutions are also worth a try. SkipDr. is a great product that we’ve used, formulated specifically for discs.  They also have a little cleaner mechanism if you want to try the ultimate step in polishing out those gouges.

If this is something that happens rarely, try some of the home remedies. If it doesn’t work, you aren’t out anything that wasn’t broke before you tried to fix it! If it happens frequently – a toddler in the house enjoys managing his own media library, or a family member or two insist that storing your movie collection in “piles” is preferable to the safety of their cases or cabinets…. then you might go for some of the more advanced solutions if the scratched dvd won’t play. (or a CD, or a video game delivered via disc, etc.)





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