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Can you polish a scratched screen?

It is possible to polish a scratched screen, but the effectiveness depends on the severity and type of scratch. Minor surface scratches can often be polished out, but deeper grooves may be impossible to remove completely. The outer layer on screens is usually made of glass or plastic. The good news is that both materials can be polished if the damage is not too deep.

What causes scratches on screens?

There are a few common causes of scratches on screens:

  • Keys or coins rubbing against the screen in a pocket or bag
  • Fingernails or jewelry scraping across the surface
  • Accidentally dropping or scraping the device on a hard surface
  • Using abrasive cleaners or cloths that can wear away the coating
  • Sand or grit getting caught between the screen and case or fingers

Even small particles like sand can cause scratches as they get ground into the screen coating. That’s why it’s important to keep screens clean and protected.

Can you remove scratches from a glass phone screen?

Yes, minor surface scratches can be polished out of a glass phone screen. Glass is a hard, transparent material, but the outer coating still has a microscopic layer that can suffer surface damage. Light buffing with polish formulated for glass can help smooth out these imperfections.

Deeper scratches or cracks that penetrate through the glass are impossible to fully remove at home. But polish and buffing can still help improve the appearance of shallow scratches. Just take care not to press too hard when polishing glass or you may make the scratches worse.

Tips for polishing a glass phone screen

  • Use a polish specifically made for glass surfaces like jewelry polish or glass scratch remover
  • Apply a small amount of polish to a soft, clean cloth
  • Gently rub the polish in circular motions over the scratched area
  • Avoid getting any polish or liquids inside openings on the phone
  • Don’t press too hard or you may grind the scratches in deeper
  • Remove all residue and reapply polish if needed for deeper scratches
  • Finish by gently cleaning the screen to remove any leftover polish

When to get professional help

If the scratches are severe or you accidentally damage the screen further, it’s best to get professional help. Many phone repair shops offer glass grinding, polishing, and screen replacement services. Technicians have specialized tools and precision polishing machines to safely smooth even deep scratches without risk of further damage.

How to polish plastic phone screens

Plastic screens like those on older LCD displays can also be polished, but require a little more care than glass. Plastics are softer and more prone to deterioration from harsh chemicals. But plastic polish and mild buffing can still be effective for light scratch removal.

Tips for polishing plastic screens

  • Use polish specifically designed for plastics
  • Apply polish to a microfiber cloth and rub gently over scratches
  • Never press hard or you may wear away the plastic coating
  • Work in small circular motions, reapplying polish as needed
  • Consider finishing with a plastic screen protector to prevent future scratches

When it’s better to replace a plastic screen

If a plastic screen is badly scratched or starts to show signs of hazing or clouding, replacement is the best option. Attempting to polish severe damage on plastic can quickly wear through the outer coating until the screen looks frosty. Replacing the plastic display panel will restore full visual clarity.

How to polish tablet and laptop screens

Tablets and laptops also have screens prone to scratching. Glass screens can be polished similar to phone screens. Plastic screens require more delicate polishing. However, it can be more challenging to polish a larger display.

Tips for polishing laptop and tablet screens

  • Use a clean microfiber cloth to avoid dust and lint scratching the screen further during polishing
  • Carefully prop up or position the device so the screen lays flat while you polish it
  • Apply a small amount of polish designed for glass or plastic to the cloth
  • Use gentle, circular rubbing motions from the center outward
  • Don’t press too hard or you may damage the screen
  • Thoroughly clean away all polish when finished

Be extra cautious when polishing a plastic tablet screen. Too much pressure can quickly wear through the soft plastic outer layer. If the scratches are deep, replacement may be the safest option.

DIY remedies to avoid

It’s best to avoid homemade remedies and products not specifically designed to polish glass or plastics. Here are some DIY methods that may seem clever but can actually damage screens:

  • Toothpaste – too abrasive for glass or plastic
  • Metal polish or chrome polish – formulated for metals and can corrode coatings
  • Jewelry cleaner – typically contains harsh chemicals unsafe for sensitive coatings
  • Baking soda – too abrasive and alkaline for screens
  • Window cleaner – contains chemicals like ammonia that can strip coatings
  • Alcohol – can wear away plastic and anti-glare screens

How to prevent scratches on screens

The easiest solution for scratched screens is preventing them in the first place. Here are some tips to keep screens damage-free:

  • Use screen protectors – plastic films prevent direct contact and scratches
  • Avoid harsh cleaners or abrasive cloths
  • Clean screens with microfiber only to avoid dust/grit scratching
  • Keep phones in a case and avoid pockets with keys or coins
  • Don’t set devices on abrasive or dirty surfaces screen-down
  • Exercise care during transport to avoid drops and bumps

A screen protector applied as soon as you get a new device can shield it from incidental scratches throughout its lifetime. But even with protectors, being mindful of how you handle and store devices will prevent damage.

Can you polish a scratched screen? The verdict

It is possible to polish out light surface scratches from glass or plastic screens using the right techniques and polish formulas. However, deeper scratches often require professional repair or replacement. To keep screens clear and scratch-free for longer:

  • Use preventive measures like screen protectors and cases
  • Handle devices with care to avoid drops and scrapes
  • Use only polishes designed specifically for the screen material
  • Apply polish gently in a circular motion using a soft cloth
  • Avoid pressure or abrasives that could worsen scratches

With some mild polishing and preventive care, you can keep screens clear. But if scratches become severe, don’t risk further damage – contact a professional for repair or replacement.