HOW TO: Remove scratches from CDs and DVDs


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Scratched DVDThis simple guide will probably be a lifesaver for a lot of you out there, especially to those of you who have kids roaming their home. We all know it: if something is dear to your heart, no matter how careful you are, your kids will eventually break it.

What brought me to write this article is that my wonderful son, while being at home last week, climbed on a chair and got his hand on my precious Star Wars DVD collection.

Naturally, he did it silently so my wife—though only 20 feet from him, didn’t hear anything. After picking up the box set, he proceeded to bring out a few disks from the box and played with them, dragging them across our hardwood floor. I’m sure you can imagine the effect this operation had on the surface of the DVD’s… they were scratched thouroghly, and when played, the movie froze at critical moments.

Fortunately, I had already experienced something similar with a scratched CD and was able to repair it using a simple technique. Please note that Amazon.com sells a cheap and effective CD repair machine that does the job very well if you don’t want to go through the manual process.

First, before trying anything, be sure to thoroughly clean the surface of your damaged CD. Sometimes, even if a disc is lightly scratched, it will play anyway if properly cleaned.

To do this, just take a piece of Microfiber cloth and clean your disk using eyeglass cleaner or an easy-to-make homemade solution we wrote about in the past. Be sure to wipe the CD / DVD starting from inside out and do not touch the reflective surface with your fingers while doing it. Do not attempt to clean the disc using circular motions! Doing so may worsen the condition of your media if you accidentally scratch it. (It’s always better to have a simple scratch going across one location on several tracks than one affecting the entire length of a single track.)

If after trying this, your disc still doesn’t work, you’ll need to employ a more drastic approach to the situation.

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.

That’s it! Now stick your disc back inside your player, and attempt to play it again. Does it work? If yes, then great! If no, then repeat the above procedure. I also heard that white toothpaste and car-rubbing compound could be effective, but I have not tried them.

And yes, I was able to get my Star Wars DVD’s back in working condition with this technique, but please note that if you do this, you do it at your own risk. Putting up too much pressure on your scratched disc will probably worsen its condition instead of improving it, so don’t forget to be gentle!

This trick will also often work wonders on damaged PS2, PS3 and Xbox game CD’s.

Does anyone have additional tips on how to repair scratched CD’s and DVD’s? Let us know in the comment area of this post!

Related article: Use a banana to repair a scratched CD or DVD





164 Responses to HOW TO: Remove scratches from CDs and DVDs

  1. I used to work at a jewelry store and the jewelers used to fix their CD collections using a special attachment & polishing compound on the metal polisher.

    So if you have any friends who are jewelers, this could work out for you.

    • In extreme cases, to repair the whole surface I use a method learned while building guitars. Wetsand surface with 600-1000 grit sandpapeer, and buff on wheel. Effectively resurfacing the whole disc.

      • I agree with Ikswoltok, I have used this method very successfully, the wet sandpaper (a higher grit is better as if you slip, you're not going to damage the disc), and then a buffing wheel on a tabletop buffer.

        I have resurfaced hundreds of discs that were so damaged would not play at all…now the owners worship me as some sort of god!

  2. I used to work at a jewelry store and the jewelers used to fix their CD collections using a special attachment & polishing compound on the metal polisher.

    So if you have any friends who are jewelers, this could work out for you.

    • In extreme cases, to repair the whole surface I use a method learned while building guitars. Wetsand surface with 600-1000 grit sandpapeer, and buff on wheel. Effectively resurfacing the whole disc.

  3. I prefer the “make backup of your DVDs, play the backup.” method, but that’s illegal, despite the fact that this is EXACTLY the reasons that we need backups!

  4. I prefer the "make backup of your DVDs, play the backup." method, but that's illegal, despite the fact that this is EXACTLY the reasons that we need backups!

    • You are allowed to make copies of media as long as they are for personal use; i.e a backup copy. In Canada, the Copyright Act explicitly states that a consumer of a legaly purchased licenced media has the right to make a copy of said media.

      Cheers,

      JM

  5. I use toothpaste and a soft cotton cloth (damp) – a circular buffing -don’t press down too hard- is enough to rescue all but the worst damage. Tell ya what tho, those hand cranked DVD scratch removers are death to most disks.

    Rob

    • But they leave the coolest double-swirl pattern. Another vote for using a little bit of tooth paste rather than resorting to brasso. First I always gently wash it with luke-warm water and just a couple drops of liquid dishwashing detergent (like Dawn)

  6. I use toothpaste and a soft cotton cloth (damp) – a circular buffing -don't press down too hard- is enough to rescue all but the worst damage. Tell ya what tho, those hand cranked DVD scratch removers are death to most disks.

    Rob

  7. Pingback: Chipping the web - heavy -- Chip’s Quips

    • you obviously don't have kids! the fact is, that no matter how careful you are, or how closely you watch your kids, they get into EVERYTHING!

  8. Hmmm, like in all things, you have to be careful when taking them out. I don’t see why putting them in there, especially if they’re in individual sleeves, would damage them.

  9. Window cleaner works well. Just spray on and wipe with a microfibre cloth inside to out and ta-da problem solved!

  10. Window cleaner works well. Just spray on and wipe with a microfibre cloth inside to out and ta-da problem solved!

    • Turtle wax indeed. Apply with fingertip, let dry, wipe clean with nonabrasive cloth (microfiber is wonderful) in straight path from inside hole to outer edge, *NEVER* circular.

  11. Pingback: HOW TO: Use a banana to fix a scratched CD or DVD | [Geeks Are Sexy] Technology News

  12. Pingback: Clean your scratched CD’s and DVD’s with a banana… yes, a banana! « J.O.S.E.

  13. Pingback: How to: Repair a CD or DVD with a microwave | [Geeks Are Sexy] Technology News

  14. hey, very good tip. brasso could make a cloudy day shine even lol. iv’e been using it for years on radiators on antique cars. but try this one. it’s called “plastx”and it’s made by meguires car care products. what it does is polish plastic such as old convertible windows and anything youcan’t see through anymore. anyways it says also works great for scratched cds/dvd. just follow the directions. it goes on with just a few drops. looks kinda hazy blue then after rubbing for 30 secs it turns clear and then you dry it off and it looks brand new. i baught mine at ace hardware. some of my xbox games i can now play after they were completely scratched by “the kid”. so have fun and do try the brasso as well. happy hollidays everyone. james:-)

  15. hey, very good tip. brasso could make a cloudy day shine even lol. iv'e been using it for years on radiators on antique cars. but try this one. it's called "plastx"and it's made by meguires car care products. what it does is polish plastic such as old convertible windows and anything youcan't see through anymore. anyways it says also works great for scratched cds/dvd. just follow the directions. it goes on with just a few drops. looks kinda hazy blue then after rubbing for 30 secs it turns clear and then you dry it off and it looks brand new. i baught mine at ace hardware. some of my xbox games i can now play after they were completely scratched by "the kid". so have fun and do try the brasso as well. happy hollidays everyone. james:-)

  16. use peanut butter(creamy) for the most extreme. then after you have coated the entire disk, rinse off with hot water, let it dry, and wipe off with a soft cloth

  17. use peanut butter(creamy) for the most extreme. then after you have coated the entire disk, rinse off with hot water, let it dry, and wipe off with a soft cloth

  18. I’ve used this for about 10 years:
    For lighter scratches and abrasions, try spraying a little Pledge (yes – furniture polish) on a microfiber towel, and work it onto the disk’s surface, from the center out. Let it dry, and buff it clean. Repeat if needed.

    The Brasso works great for the heavier damage.

    • Pledge was what we recommended when I worked for a formerly major cow-based computer company. It was the most likely common household thing, and it was easy to explain to users.

  19. I've used this for about 10 years:

    For lighter scratches and abrasions, try spraying a little Pledge (yes – furniture polish) on a microfiber towel, and work it onto the disk's surface, from the center out. Let it dry, and buff it clean. Repeat if needed.

    The Brasso works great for the heavier damage.

  20. The Brasso method works for me, thanks! I have been using Brasso for years, but never for this purpose. Never once crossed my mind.

    Just curious… why the heck did you even think of using Brasso in the first place? Or toothpaste? Or peanut butter? Why not strawberry-flavored toothpaste or chocolate butter?

  21. The Brasso method works for me, thanks! I have been using Brasso for years, but never for this purpose. Never once crossed my mind.

    Just curious… why the heck did you even think of using Brasso in the first place? Or toothpaste? Or peanut butter? Why not strawberry-flavored toothpaste or chocolate butter?

  22. Brasso…I never woulda thought. I’ve always used a good quality shampoo and gently running water, allowing a tiny bit of the shampoo to remain in the crack. Then allow to air dry. Works wonders! But I’m always willing to try something new, so I’m gonna test drive the Brasso method too. Thanks!

  23. Brasso…I never woulda thought. I've always used a good quality shampoo and gently running water, allowing a tiny bit of the shampoo to remain in the crack. Then allow to air dry. Works wonders! But I'm always willing to try something new, so I'm gonna test drive the Brasso method too. Thanks!

  24. I just use a product called “Apple Sauce” it is to remove scratches from Ipods…..it works GREAT with microfiber towels ….

  25. I just use a product called "Apple Sauce" it is to remove scratches from Ipods…..it works GREAT with microfiber towels ….

  26. The industry could have saved us these headaches by having the DVD encased in a small plastic cartridge rather than "naked".

  27. If you just need the data from a disc, a light polish with lemon oil will sufficiently fill scratches to allow the data to be extracted and then you can burn a new disc.

  28. If you just need the data from a disc, a light polish with lemon oil will sufficiently fill scratches to allow the data to be extracted and then you can burn a new disc.

  29. Toothpaste is the biggest joke ever!!! i tried it 3 times and everytime my PS2 game failed to play fluently. This so called “restoration tip” is a bunch of crap.

    • Funny, because i fixed my Tomb Raider Legend disk yesterday with some toothpaste. ;)

      Works like a charm, unless you have really deep scratches.

      Robin

    • I just fixed a DVD with toothpaste! Thanks… Also, make sure to use toothpaste and not gel. Gel won’t work as well. Toothpaste works best when it has baking soda in it.

  30. Those are some complicated answers. It’s real easy to fix a scratched disk. It’s so easy you probably won’t even believe it until you try it for yourself. Get a pan of water about an inch deep. Boil it. Yes, I said boil that water. Now drop the disk in the boiling water for 10 to 15 seconds. Get it out before it melts and the scratches are sealed. Make a handle out of a paper clip to keep the disk from touching the bottom of the pan and to retrieve it from the boiling water. Nay sayers have never tried it and anyone who tries it will never bother with that time wasting polishing technique again.

    • Yes, "boil a pan of water, make a paperclip handle, then drop the disc in, but not for too long, just long enough, and don't let it touch the bottom" is very uncomplicated when compared to, "rub toothpaste in a circular motion"

  31. Those are some complicated answers. It's real easy to fix a scratched disk. It's so easy you probably won't even believe it until you try it for yourself. Get a pan of water about an inch deep. Boil it. Yes, I said boil that water. Now drop the disk in the boiling water for 10 to 15 seconds. Get it out before it melts and the scratches are sealed. Make a handle out of a paper clip to keep the disk from touching the bottom of the pan and to retrieve it from the boiling water. Nay sayers have never tried it and anyone who tries it will never bother with that time wasting polishing technique again.

    • To Mr Obvious: sorry to say, I just tried your boil water in the pan trick and put disks in for 10-15 minutes but it hasnt worked for me, the disk in question is still freezing at particular scenes :-(

  32. I used the Brasso trick on a Wii game today and it worked! Thanks so much! You saved me $50 dollars!

    I think it's funny that people say "well don't scratch them in the first place!" These people obviously don't have kids….or friends!

  33. Hey

    i used high gloss car wax on ratchet and clank for ps2 now before it dident even boot now i can get to the main menu which is slightly beter but thats it now im gona invest in the brasso but i recomend car wax/turtle wax for audio cds and light damage

  34. Hey

    i used high gloss car wax on ratchet and clank for ps2 now before it dident even boot now i can get to the main menu which is slightly beter but thats it now im gona invest in the brasso but i recomend car wax/turtle wax for audio cds and light damage

  35. You can also use 400 grit then 1000 grit sandpaper to get down to the depth of the scratches, then rubbing compound to polish it out. The important thing is to get the surface clear and free of the visible obstruction so that light passes directly through it. Any kind of semi-transparent fillers like toothpaste or peanutbutter are not a good idea.

  36. You can also use 400 grit then 1000 grit sandpaper to get down to the depth of the scratches, then rubbing compound to polish it out. The important thing is to get the surface clear and free of the visible obstruction so that light passes directly through it. Any kind of semi-transparent fillers like toothpaste or peanutbutter are not a good idea.

  37. Funny, because i fixed my Tomb Raider Legend disk yesterday with some toothpaste. ;)

    Works like a charm, unless you have really deep scratches.

    Robin

    • seriously – so wrong.

      You can occasionally recover data off a HDD with platter damage by putting it in the freezer although if you can afford it a professional data recovery company is always the best option.

      Bottom line, if your not %100 sure of something, don’t say anything. In this case it’s not going to damage the dvd but I hate to think what other advice you’ve bandied about – people like you make the net the unreliable source it is…

    • seriously – so wrong.

      You can occasionally recover data off a HDD with platter damage by putting it in the freezer although if you can afford it a professional data recovery company is always the best option.

      Bottom line, if your not %100 sure of something, don't say anything. In this case it's not going to damage the dvd but I hate to think what other advice you've bandied about – people like you make the net the unreliable source it is…

  38. I know this isn’t a technique to cleaning your disk ,but if your lazy, places like game stop and play n’ trade sometimes have machines that clean them for about $2.00

    it got my heavily damaged halo 3 disk that wouldn’t play at all to play and look like new

  39. I know this isn't a technique to cleaning your disk ,but if your lazy, places like game stop and play n' trade sometimes have machines that clean them for about $2.00

    it got my heavily damaged halo 3 disk that wouldn't play at all to play and look like new

  40. I dont know why you american people dont like to give some beat in your kids… Unfortunately, here in Brazil, people are not beating their kids anymore… My girlfriend told me that we are never beating or punishing our kids for nothing, and that all we will do is talk to them… Of course, that is HER opinion… If my kids touch my Star Wars collection or my Babylon 5, or any of my CDs, DVDs, LPs, VHS or books, I’ll KILL THEM!

  41. I dont know why you american people dont like to give some beat in your kids… Unfortunately, here in Brazil, people are not beating their kids anymore… My girlfriend told me that we are never beating or punishing our kids for nothing, and that all we will do is talk to them… Of course, that is HER opinion… If my kids touch my Star Wars collection or my Babylon 5, or any of my CDs, DVDs, LPs, VHS or books, I'll KILL THEM!

  42. ive tride almost everything to get my dbz game to work ive tride the toothe paste the scratch remover that you get at the store and my mom and dad dont know what this brasso stuf is i miht just try the winndow clener and this is a jock some dudes on the internet said that flushing a game down the toilet will work

  43. Thanks for the tip! :)

    And oh, since I am already posting something, does anyone know what this “Pingback”-thing is? It has appeared in almost every comment box I have stumbled upon lately. It’s quite bothersome. :/

    • A pingback is a trail that leads to another site that talked about your article. So if someone linkes to this post on their blog, it will leave a pingback…

  44. Thanks for the tip! :)

    And oh, since I am already posting something, does anyone know what this "Pingback"-thing is? It has appeared in almost every comment box I have stumbled upon lately. It's quite bothersome. :/

    • A pingback is a trail that leads to another site that talked about your article. So if someone linkes to this post on their blog, it will leave a pingback…

  45. I didn’t have time to read all the comments, so if I duplicate, I’m sorry. I have used standard bar soap, rubbed it over the CD or DVD, then polished with a microfiber cloth… have never had any problems with any CD/DVD players or ROMS using this method.

  46. I didn't have time to read all the comments, so if I duplicate, I'm sorry. I have used standard bar soap, rubbed it over the CD or DVD, then polished with a microfiber cloth… have never had any problems with any CD/DVD players or ROMS using this method.

  47. Brasso has grits in it which will scratch your disc. Try shving cream instead. But dont let it dry. And WHO THE HELL WATCHES STARWARS?

    • OMG who dosnt watch starwars. its like the best 6 movies EVER.also i was going to use brasso but my dad said thet it will eat through the cds.

  48. Brasso has grits in it which will scratch your disc. Try shving cream instead. But dont let it dry. And WHO THE HELL WATCHES STARWARS?

    • OMG who dosnt watch starwars. its like the best 6 movies EVER.also i was going to use brasso but my dad said thet it will eat through the cds.

  49. I just fixed a DVD with toothpaste! Thanks… Also, make sure to use toothpaste and not gel. Gel won't work as well. Toothpaste works best when it has baking soda in it.

  50. I have never tried anything to repair CD’s or DVD’s but I am desperate since 90% of are DVD collection was ruined this past summer by my sisters kids who stayed with me who in my opinion are old enough to know better and know how to properly care for something that is not theres. I have four kids of my own and they are 6 and under and they have never caused so many of our DVD’s to quit working. I am going try a few of the suggested ideas, not like I got anything to lose if they get ruined!!!!

  51. I have never tried anything to repair CD's or DVD's but I am desperate since 90% of are DVD collection was ruined this past summer by my sisters kids who stayed with me who in my opinion are old enough to know better and know how to properly care for something that is not theres. I have four kids of my own and they are 6 and under and they have never caused so many of our DVD's to quit working. I am going try a few of the suggested ideas, not like I got anything to lose if they get ruined!!!!

  52. braso eats thru the cd’s but thats y it works, it burns thru the scratch and then u clean it off, b 4 it destroys the cd

  53. braso eats thru the cd's but thats y it works, it burns thru the scratch and then u clean it off, b 4 it destroys the cd

  54. ermm i was looking thru these comments and i havent tryed the toothpaste yet but im going to try later but i was wondering if any kind of hair wax works to take the scratches out of disks couse somebody told me that car wax works so i was wondeing if hair wax would work…….

  55. ermm i was looking thru these comments and i havent tryed the toothpaste yet but im going to try later but i was wondering if any kind of hair wax works to take the scratches out of disks couse somebody told me that car wax works so i was wondeing if hair wax would work…….

  56. Thank you so much about the brasso idea. I just tried it on my Wii Sports game and it worked. I was gonna buy another game. Thank you so much

  57. Thank you so much about the brasso idea. I just tried it on my Wii Sports game and it worked. I was gonna buy another game. Thank you so much

  58. you obviously don’t have kids! the fact is, that no matter how careful you are, or how closely you watch your kids, they get into EVERYTHING!

  59. nothing works. Everything else thats a comment does not work for me. The windex, the penut butter nothing works.

  60. nothing works. Everything else thats a comment does not work for me. The windex, the penut butter nothing works.

  61. when you come up with something that does work tell me cause i want to see cause nothing works the brasso idea never works cause guess what i tried it and it made it worse so do whatever cause it does not work for me. Go ahead and try but it won’t work. Try it, it wil just make it worse.

  62. when you come up with something that does work tell me cause i want to see cause nothing works the brasso idea never works cause guess what i tried it and it made it worse so do whatever cause it does not work for me. Go ahead and try but it won't work. Try it, it wil just make it worse.

  63. What is BRASSO? Is it available in Australia?

    And do Toothpaste, Furniture Polish, Har/Car Polish, Windex and Peanut Butter really work, does anyone who used it can clarify that these work?

  64. What is BRASSO? Is it available in Australia?

    And do Toothpaste, Furniture Polish, Har/Car Polish, Windex and Peanut Butter really work, does anyone who used it can clarify that these work?

  65. never use any paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, etc) to clean your discs. paper is abrasive!

    Only microfiber cloths or a clean soft cotton tshirt

    • Would a plain ordinary handkerchief work, or is that liable to scratch the disc?

      I have a DVD that froze up twice over Christmas. it had seldom frozen up before; most of the time it worked perfectly. When i held it up to the light, I noticed what looked like a stain or fingerprint on it. So i wiped it with a handkerchief and then breathed on it (deliberately). After that I noticed what seem to be two light scratches – so light that they are not immediately noticeable at all – you have to hold the disc up to really bright light to see them. Could that handkerchief have scratched the DVD – and if it did, can I get it back to normal?
      P.S. I wouldn’t dare try peanut butter or toothpaste on any disc. It sounds positively gross.

  66. never use any paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, etc) to clean your discs. paper is abrasive!

    Only microfiber cloths or a clean soft cotton tshirt

    • Would a plain ordinary handkerchief work, or is that liable to scratch the disc?

      I have a DVD that froze up twice over Christmas. it had seldom frozen up before; most of the time it worked perfectly. When i held it up to the light, I noticed what looked like a stain or fingerprint on it. So i wiped it with a handkerchief and then breathed on it (deliberately). After that I noticed what seem to be two light scratches – so light that they are not immediately noticeable at all – you have to hold the disc up to really bright light to see them. Could that handkerchief have scratched the DVD – and if it did, can I get it back to normal?

      P.S. I wouldn't dare try peanut butter or toothpaste on any disc. It sounds positively gross.

  67. In the past my CDs and DVDs have been scratched simply by the dvd players and cd rom drives, not the kids.

  68. In the past my CDs and DVDs have been scratched simply by the dvd players and cd rom drives, not the kids.

  69. I second Meguiar’s PlastX . It’s awesome! Takes the scratches right out, even fairly deep ones. It’s a car-care product, but works on CDs/DVDs, as they’re made of the same stuff as plastic car headlights.

    Not surprising that it works, considering the sole purpose of the product is to take scratches out of plastic.

    I’m especially happy, because my daughter scratched up her Jungle Book DVD, and Disney have stopped selling it as part of their strategy to create artificial demand spikes by making their children’s movies periodically available. Yay Meguiar’s! Boo Disney!

  70. I second Meguiar's PlastX . It's awesome! Takes the scratches right out, even fairly deep ones. It's a car-care product, but works on CDs/DVDs, as they're made of the same stuff as plastic car headlights.

    Not surprising that it works, considering the sole purpose of the product is to take scratches out of plastic.

    I'm especially happy, because my daughter scratched up her Jungle Book DVD, and Disney have stopped selling it as part of their strategy to create artificial demand spikes by making their children's movies periodically available. Yay Meguiar's! Boo Disney!

  71. My svr 2006 cd is not working on my ps2.it has a deep scaratch and several medium scratches what should i do

  72. My svr 2006 cd is not working on my ps2.it has a deep scaratch and several medium scratches what should i do

  73. My younger sister kind of played with my Wii games. Luckily, most were backups. I never thought of using brasso. I found an 8 ounce can for $5 at Canadian Tire, but I wonder if I could find something cheaper…

  74. My younger sister kind of played with my Wii games. Luckily, most were backups. I never thought of using brasso. I found an 8 ounce can for $5 at Canadian Tire, but I wonder if I could find something cheaper…

  75. Toothpaste (not gel, or some paste-gel combo) works exceedingly well also.

    Just run a ring around the very most inner circle (the clear one, without any data), then using your thumb, gently wipe outwards, overlapping the previous pass by 50%.
    Once done, rinse in lukewarm water and inspect for scratches. If you still see some large ones, repeat the process. If you only see some minor ones, test the disc. If it works, you're done – if it still skips, repeat the process.

  76. My flatmate discovered that mayonnaise works rather well for fixing dvds too. He also discovered that if you use garlic mayo, the laser will heat it up & the living room will subsequently smell of garlic…

  77. my tip : Take the disk to Gamestation (My local one provides this) and ask them to run it through the machine of disk wonder & happiness! :)

  78. I have been using Brasso for about 5 years now and it's THE BEST for taking out CD scratches. Has saved many a-CD!

  79. FOIL SCRATCH FIX:
    I bought a rare CD off Amazon and it had one 5mm long foil scratch and wouldn't play 3 of the tracks at all. All I did was cut out a strip of metallic chocolate wrapper that matched the size of the scratch and stuck some clear sticky tape over the top of it (label side of course). Now it plays without any problems at all…. yay!

  80. not having brasso in europe, i used the closest thing i could find: a stainless steel counter cleaner. worked like a charm

  81. I tried Basso on my son's PS3 before and it does work. But I have also used tooth paste as well and have found it to work pretty well.

  82. I have just restored a DVD that seemed deeply scratched.
    Just two or three minutes rubbing with a damp rag with ZINC OXIDE and dried off when dry.
    Rub center to out side only, never round and round
    Zinc oxide is used for the final polish in gemstone tumblers.
    (it's a great window cleaner also)