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DIY scratched screen repair: Magic and myths

Scratched your screen? Don't worry. There are a few DIY ways to make your screen look better in a snap. There are also a few tricks you should avoid.

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Alina Bradford
removing scratches from phones
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Magic eraser

Magic erasers are usually used for cleaning up messes, but could they clean up scratches? Yup. It wiped out small scratches on the phone's screen in just a few seconds. Taylor Martin has a tutorial on how to make your own magic erasers for just around $0.10 (£0.07 or AU$0.14) each.

toothpaste to remove scratches on screens
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Toothpaste

Wiping a screen with toothpaste (not the gel kind) supposedly works for fixing scratched screens. All it did in my tests was make the screen shinier and seemed to add small abrasion marks. I also tried toothpaste on a plastic screen protector, such as the kind that comes with OtterBox phone cases. It worked great on that! So it's a no for screens, but a yes for plastic screen protectors.

erasers remove scratches from screens
3 of 10 Alina Bradford/CNET

​Erasers

Erasers work great for making scratches disappear. I used a white rubber eraser, but you can also use the type that's found on the end of a pencil. Simply rub the scratch left and right with the eraser for about 60 seconds, and then rub it up and down for 60 seconds. The friction softens the eraser and it fills in the scratch. Don't press down too hard, though!

headlight shine cream to remove scratches
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​Car products

Car waxes and headlight lens creams are supposed to be effective at removing scratches on screens, so I gave Mothers PowerPlastic 4Lights headlight cream a try. It made the scratches fade significantly, and l liked the shine it gave my screen.

baking soda for removing scratches on screens
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Baking soda

A paste of two parts baking soda to one part water has been bandied about as a great screen fixer. Nope. It just made the screen really shiny. Plus, the moisture in the paste could damage your device.

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Coconut oil

According to the internet, coconut oil can solve just about any problem. Shockingly, it didn't work well on phone scratches. Like with the petroleum jelly, it just made the phone super slippery.

​Cornstarch powder for removing screen scratches
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​Corn starch powder

I wasn't sure about this tip. Sites say to mix the corn starch with a little water to make a paste, rub it on the screen with a soft cloth, and then wipe it off. It didn't do anything to the scratches, but it made the screen shiny.

​Petroleum jelly
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​Petroleum jelly

OK, this one freaked me out. A lot. Putting gooey, oily stuff on electronics is never a good idea, but I gave it a shot in the name of science. I dabbed a bit on as recommended, and rubbed it into the screen with a tissue. As I feared, all it did was make the test screen oily and sticky.

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9 of 10 Alina Bradford/CNET

​Banana

Why do people think it's a good idea to rub food on their phones? Nope, rubbing a banana peel on your screen won't help it. I tried it a couple different ways and it just left a crusty mess that is hard to remove.

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Powdered Cleanser

Powdered cleanser like Bar Keepers Friend, Comet, Ajax and the like seem a good idea for buffing out scratches. They are slightly abrasive, so you'd think they'd polish your screen to a gleaming scratch-free shine. Well, they don't. They can even leave new little scratches on your screen. Yah, this test didn't go well.

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