How Do DVDs Get Scratched?

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How Do DVDs Get Scratched?

DVDs were a considerable upgrade over the VHS of years gone by. There was no rewinding required, no fragile tape to break or get caught inside a machine and many more benefits. Of course DVDs are not without their drawbacks and scratches are a large one! 

If you were born within the last 10-15 years, you wouldn’t really know how exciting it was back in the day when a new DVD was brought home and the entire family gathered together to watch it. In these days of technology, thanks to online streaming services, no one needs to do the hard work of going to a store, selecting a movie, standing in line to pay for it and so on. Watching a movie is now as simple as paying to rent it on Amazon, or even just hopping on Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+ and watching it immediately. 

There was absolutely nothing worse than buying or renting a DVD and getting home only to realize that the DVD was so scratched that it wouldn’t play without stuttering or stopping entirely! So how did the DVDs get scratched in the first place? 

DVDs get scratched in a variety of ways with it most often happening either through mishandling by people or during the packaging and shipping process. Even brand new DVDs can come scratched from the factory as DVDs can sometimes rub up against their plastic case while being shipped to stores or to you which in turn means the discs can arrive damaged! 

Once a DVD has been used by many people the most likely reason that discs get scratched is through not being careful when putting them in and out of the case as well as not putting them in a case at all. DVDs will often get left lying around and when this happens they will get a bunch of small scratches just from getting pushed around on top of a table. 

Other ways that DVDs get scratched

As mentioned above there are two main ways that DVDs get scratched and damaged. Of course there are other additional ways that they can get scratched as well. 

Here are a few ways in which DVDs get scratched so that you can avoid them as much as possible.

  1. Friction: Make sure you do not keep too many of your DVDs in the same place. If DVDs brush against each other they will likely get scratched. Also remember to store your DVDs in a cool and dry place and away from any physical damage. The best way to prevent any damage to DVDs from friction is to keep them in their respective cases and not stack any DVDs on top of each other. If you don’t have your cases anymore you can buy spare ones in many stores or even online as well.

  1. Bad Dvd Player: This is probably the most important point that people forget. In order for your DVDs to remain undamaged, it is necessary for you to invest in a good DVD player. A faulty DVD player may scratch your DVDs and your DVD may end up in a state that you can’t use it anymore! Make sure you purchase a good DVD player from a good brand. Nowadays, the best brands are offering an affordable range of DVD players you can choose from so that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg. Generic DVD players will normally work fine as well if purchased from a regular store but you should avoid buying DVD players from online stores you have never heard of before.

  1. Manufacturing Defect: As unfortunate as it is, DVDs may have some manufacturing defects which may cause the DVD to have some scratches on it.  Make sure you properly scrutinise them before purchasing from a shop if you are buying them used. If you buy a new DVD and it arrives severely damaged you should ask the store for an exchange. Most stores are happy to exchange defective discs or sets as they will get reimbursed by the manufacturer for these sorts of issues and they of course want you to be happy with your purchase. 

  1. Mishandling: As mentioned earlier, it is very difficult to maintain DVDs if you are not incredibly careful with them. If you drop your things a lot, then you might want to have someone else load and unload your DVD player as DVDs can get damaged quite easily when they get dropped. You will also want to avoid storing your DVDs in cardboard sleeves or on top of any other rough surface.

  1. Wrong Cleaning: If you want to clean your DVDs make sure you clean them with a soft, clean cloth. Do not use any harmful chemicals to clean your DVDs OR your DVD player.  If you don’t use a soft cloth and just use any old rag you have lying around then you are likely to scratch the disc while trying to clean it!

Why did DVD sales stop?

In recent years the sales of DVDs have continued to decrease. There are many different reasons for this but some of the most important ones are: 

  1. Limited Storage Space: DVDs don’t have very much storage. A standard DVD can normally hold 120-240 minutes video depending on how the discs are recorded. With online streaming, the question of how much storage a movie takes doesn’t ever come up. With streaming services you get the films in the highest quality possible and you don’t have to try and keep from damaging them or worry about storing them either.

  1. Storage Problem: DVDs need to be stored somewhere which is indeed a problem if you have limited storage in your house. Moreover, they don’t only need to be just stored; they need to be maintained properly. As all DVDs look similar, if there is no distinguishing feature among them, then they may get lost or misplaced. This is not the case with online streaming as you can easily watch from any device of your choice.

  1. Availability: Whenever a new movie was out, we would have to wait months before the DVD came out. Nowadays, online streaming platforms have all the latest movies and TV shows with some streaming platforms having TV shows the following day after it airs.

  1. Fragility: The most important factor that resulted in the downfall of DVDs was their fragility. DVDs had to be kept in a very safe place away from any physical damage. If it fell out of your hands, there’s a great possibility the discs  would have been damaged.  Once the DVD has been damaged it will stop playing properly and if damaged bad enough will become useless. Even a single scratch if deep enough could result in you never being able to use the DVD again. This fragility and restrictions in retrieval of data is what made DVDs grow less popular among people.
  2. Streaming: As streaming has continued to become more and more popular there are less and less people who want to deal with the hassle of owning DVDs. There are certainly some pros and cons to streaming services just like DVDs but being able to access gigantic libraries of content for only a few dollars a month is very appealing to people and much cheaper than buying a bunch of movies or TV series.

Maintaining your DVDs

The last thing that we will mention is about maintaining your DVDs. If you love having the physical media and want to avoid having a bunch of scratched or damaged discs then the proper maintenance and storage is vital. 

Here are a few ways on how to best maintain your DVDs and make them last as long as possible. 

  • Use Cases: As mentioned earlier it is very important to keep your DVDs protected from dust, water and any kind of physical damage. It is best if you store your DVDs in jewel boxes or the individual cases that they came in for maximum protection. Obviously those cases take up more room than just storing a bunch of discs on a spindle but the extra space is well worth it and will make your DVDs last much longer.

  • Avoid Direct Heat And Light: Keep your discs away from direct sunlight. Not only that but it is also recommended that you keep your DVDs away from direct heat and heated devices. Keep your DVDs in a cool and dry place to prevent them from getting damaged.

  • Label Carefully: If you want to label your DVD with a marker then make sure it’s free from harsh chemicals and has a blunt tip. Avoid writing on your DVDs with markers with a sharp tip. Writing with a sharp tip will result in scratching and loss of data.


DVDs get scratched a variety of ways but most of the time the scratches are either done through carelessness, manufacturing defects, or the discs coming loose or getting scratched while inside their own plastic cases. 

If you buy a brand new DVD and find out that it is seriously scratched then you will want to contact the store that you purchased it from and exchange it. Some stores, Blaze DVDs included, will allow you to only swap out a single disc if one disc is defective while other stores will have you exchange the entire set for a new one. 

Unfortunately if the DVD gets damaged by you you either have to buy a new DVD or if the damage is not too bad you can find places that will clean DVDs for a nominal fee. Some libraries as well as DVD rental stores (if there are any left) will normally have machines that can clean discs to help get most of the scratches off and make it usable again. 

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