What to Do If Your Vinyl Record is Scratched? How to Fix Scratched Vinyl Records

broken and scratched record beside a turntable

It’s happened to all of us. You come across a great addition to your collection that happens to be less-than-pristine when you pull it out and play it. Or, you have kids with sticky fingers and a big curiosity. Ouch! One of the joys of beginning or expanding your vinyl collection is problem-solving, and this means learning how to fix scratched vinyl records, right? Whether the scratch was caused by your own mistake or it occurred through improper storage by a previous owner, you might be able to salvage your tunes. Here’s how to spot damage and try to repair scratched vinyl records yourself.

How to Spot Damage

Let’s do a bit of preventative work. Before you purchase a record, inspect it carefully and make sure you know what you’re getting into. From time to time, make sure you inspect your current collection, too. You’ll easily see tell-tale signs of damage if you know what you’re looking for: 

  • Micro-scratches: Less obvious scratches can be microscopic, and they are relatively common and easier to repair. Scratched vinyl records are common, especially if the disc is older. No point in worrying about how to fix scratched vinyl records if your disc just needs a simple cleaning.
  • Storage Clues: Damaged covers, no sleeves, and warping can all be red flags that the records have been stored improperly and may be damaged by heat or rough handling. Pull the record all the way out and see if you can spot any deep scratches on the surface before you buy.
  • Scratch or dirt? Sometimes what you think is a scratch is actually dirt that can be removed with a cleaning kit

Other clues are less obvious. Learning how to fix scratched vinyl records is easier when you can see the damage clearly, so let’s move on to the next step.

So, You Have a Scratch

You’ve done your due diligence, and it’s confirmed - you have a scratch. Whether it was self-made or it was there before, time marches on. The bad news? No scratch can truly be removed. Some methods promise to repair scratched vinyl records, but they all have risks. The good news? Before worrying about how to fix scratched vinyl records, it’s possible to increase playability by following these tips: 

  • Use a specialized cleaning fluid designed specifically for vinyl records
  • Invest in a good cleaning kit or purchase a record cleaning machine to maintain your collection
  • Use brushes or cloths made specifically for protecting vinyl

You should be cleaning your collection regularly to make sure your vintage buys and collectibles sound their best.

The “Old Ways” of Fixing Records

A quick search will send you down a rabbit hole of different methods to help you repair scratched vinyl records, but we wouldn’t recommend them in good conscience. Full disclosure: none of these techniques is 100% guaranteed to work. They’ll tell you how to “fix” scratched vinyl records in several ways:

  • The toothpick method: This method claims that a scratch can be removed by pushing a wooden toothpick into the scratch to even out the surface. What it really does is remove dirt — better to use a reliable cleaning kit for that.
  • The wood glue method: Believers say you can spin your record and pour an even layer of wood glue onto the surface. Let it dry for 24 hours, and peel it off to see if the sound is improved. We think it’s too risky. All this does is remove deep dirt and debris. It’s also hard to get it right, and you may run the risk of adding more junk to your vinyl.
  • Sandpaper: Desperate times call for desperate measures? Some audiophiles claim they know how to fix scratched vinyl records by using sandpaper. We wouldn’t try this one at home.

Be skeptical of methods that promise to repair scratched vinyl records at home. We suggest avoiding scratches in the first place through proper protective sleeves and storage if you can help it. 

Protect Your Purchases

record playing

The best way to avoid a bad situation is to take care of your vinyl records in the first place. You won’t need to worry about how to fix scratched vinyl records if you invest in great cleaning kits and specialized inner and outer sleeves and take care to store your collection properly. Shop Big Fudge online for all the tools you need to protect and store your prized vinyl record collection.