How to remove scratches from an iPhone

May 19, 2010 - 19 Comments

repair iphone scratches

You can remove the surface scratches on the back of an iPhone case by using a mildly abrasive rub or fine sandpaper. The anti-scratch coating is actually where many of the smaller finer scratches on iPhones are shown, which makes them relatively easy to buff out with some care. Whether you are using the toothpaste or sandpaper method to repair the scratches, you will want to be careful as to not rub the anti-scratch coating off of the iPhone case.

Warning: Try these methods at your own risk! We are not responsible for you damaging your iPhone in any way, and if you are not confident in your ability to do it right, you should probably avoid the techniques altogether!

Removing iPhone scratches with… toothpaste

This might sound totally crazy but believe it or not you can use tooth paste intended for sensitive teeth as a mildly abrasive rub and it’s able to get out some of the finer scratches on iPhone cases.

* Put a glob of tooth paste onto the iPhone case
* Using something like a microfiber cloth, gently rub and buff the iPhone case where the scratches are
* Leave the toothpaste on for a minute or two to dry a bit.
* Now clean the iPhone case with a mild cleaner, like ammonia free windex or a mild soap

You may need to buff the iPhone scratches for a while to get the best results. Many of the finer scratches that are just marks on the surface coating will come out using this method. People use a similar technique to remove scratches from things like DVD’s and CD’s, and unsurprisingly it works quite well on the iPhone’s plastic case. To make this method even more bizarre, you can find recommendations on following up the toothpaste with a banana rub, but I haven’t tried that myself. Some people use a product called Brasso too.

Be sure you do not get any toothpaste into any of the ports or openings on the iPhone! Any moisture can corrode internal electronics and void your iPhone warranty by triggering the spill detectors.

Remove iPhone scratches with fine sandpaper

You can use a fine grit sandpaper to buff out and remove many of the smaller scratches on an iPhone case too. It’s a method very similar to the toothpaste, but you’ll want to be cautious to use the right kind of sandpaper, 1200+ grain seems to work well based on various recommendations and experiences around the web. You’ll end up spending 30 minutes or more to really make it look good, refer to the MacRumors Forum thread mentioned below for an example.

Do not rub too hard! Remember, you are trying to just polish the scratches out of the surface coating of the iPhone. If you remove the surface anti-scratch coating, you will have to use the below method which is much more intense.

Removing deep iPhone scratches by drysanding, wetsanding, and polishing

If you are really committed to completely removing every possible scratch from your iPhone, deep gashes included, you can use a rather intense process of drysanding, then wet sanding, and finally polishing the iPhone to restore the case to it’s original glory. It’s not exactly a quick and simple process, so I’d only suggest this if you’re truly committed to restoring an iPhone’s case. It will also remove the Apple logo and all text from the back of the iPhone case, so be aware of that.

This post on MacRumors Forums: Restoring an iPhone Front & Back is invaluable, and even includes a guide to fix screen scratches (requires iPhone disassembly, not for the faint of heart). It’s kind of the last resort method since it’s so intense and it will remove the surface protective coating from the iPhone case, which is exactly what you do not want to do in the aforementioned methods.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in How to, iPhone

19 Comments

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  1. Peter Bjorn says:

    Tooth paste does work pretty well and so does auto wax and polish. There’s no way I’d take sandpaper to my iPhone though.

  2. James says:

    I’m not sure I care enough about a scratch on the back of an iPhone to risk taking sandpaper to it.

  3. widson says:

    Very good. So good that it removed the Apple logo as well….

  4. […] to remove scratches from iPhone/iTouch via OSXDaily iPhone/iTouch owners should read this or save for later […]

  5. shakir says:

    haha
    it works
    toothpaste

    • matthew says:

      OK so you used the toothpaste but did you like rub it for an hour or somthing, because with me it didn’t really work much better than a damp cloth wipedown…
      I am prolly gonna just get an old 2g iphone so that the alluminum backing will not become so quickly damaged. MUCHCHEEEEPER;)

  6. matthew says:

    I tried the toothpaste and the bananna trick. i will not sand away my apple logo becuz the fake iPhone 3gs clone is a plain black phone just like that one on the picture :( but the jewlry cleaner that u can buy in the little jars works perfectly! (just think, if it cleans diamonds and gold so well, why not an iphone;)
    it dose with just a little drop of the wax, let it set and buff in round motions with a micro-fiber cloth. do it a few times for about 20 minuets and your iphone will be flawless. unless it was already very scratched up badly then it may not take away deep scratches. just the light ones that u get from laying it on a table or something.

  7. matthew says:

    BTW…My jewlry cleaner trick is not a mirical worker, my iphone is 3 years old and in immaculant condition it just had a few light scratches from it rubbing on tables and carpet. Remember to be patient, it will take a few minuets to REALLLLLY shine it up. for best results do it about ten to twenty min. depending on the severity. u spent at least 200 for your iphone so take a few minuets to restore its out of the box luster…

  8. Greg Zeng says:

    Prevention is better than cure. All my hand gadgets are non-slip, thief-proofed, reversible-engineered to new condition, just after I purchase each one: camera, phones, netbooks, notebooks, tablets, etc. EITHER/ OR / AND … the following.

    1) Put making tape on everything except the screen(s), buttons, inlets & outlets. This tape comes in different colors, different degrees of stickiness. Reverse engineer with methylated spirit soaked rags.

    2) Silicon rubber, as above. Wide color choices. For disguising or making glaringly obvious. Clean before applying. Use thin layers, except corners, near important buttons, sockets.

    3) Hot-melt (plastic) glue. As above in (2). Easier to remove than Si-rubber. Not as suitable to large flat surfaces, but workable. Tedious but quickly reverse engineer to mint condition.

    Retired (medical) IT Consultant, Australian Capital Territory

  9. matthew says:

    I have an iphone 3gs and i have quite a few light, hairline scratches on the back and now on the front screen. They drive me up the wall, I have tried everything that I have read online and nothing really works all that well. The jewlry cleaner that I wrote about in my last comment dose work well but I just wish that I could get that out of the box luster back. I only have had the phone for like 3 months now as I bought it refurbished. so buing a new iphone is just not an option at all! i have also checked my local craigslist and i found that i can have my back housing replaced for like $60 and my front glass for $35. they only do white and black but if I am gonna pay that much to shine up a phone that is not that bad looking I would much rather do the red back housing that I have seen people with. I would just be very discouraged if I paid almost $100 to have an iphone restored just to drop it and mess it up again even worse…:O

  10. Raiyan says:

    does the toothpaste thing really work bcoz i will try it on my iphone

    • matthew says:

      yea, it works if the phone is not too far gone…most people who want a scratch remover try it when their phone looks like that picture to the left, and think it will shine like the one on the right. it dont work that great. it will however remove scratches if they are light ones. like mine at the time only had a few little scuffs on the bottom where it says “iphone 32 gb” fron sitting on a wooden table. not deep gashes in the paint. but i lost that iphone and went back to my 2g16gb. the silver aluminum back plate is wayyy better than the 3gs i had. it dsoe not get scratched up an has a better feel to it too.

  11. Paulo says:

    I just took some rubbing compound and toothpaste to my iPhone last weekend. It got most of the scratches off but I do have som deep ones left, I bought my 3gs used from my friend that’s a freshman. She dropped it a lot -__-. I used a drill and a foam pad. I still don’t likerhe idea using sand paper on it -__- I’m going to go over this again with more toothpaste and compound, it does make it shiny again though ;)

  12. gibbz says:

    what a load of b**l sh** the tooth paste is. i rubbed for an hour and it did’nt even look any cleaner never mind getting rid of scratches my phone looked like the pic on the left when i started and now it looks like the pic on the left dont waste your time i’m just gonna buy a new back housing

  13. ManDu says:

    One true thing abt toothpaste is it really works for teeths…

  14. paula says:

    Google is your friend. Many people have made things worse using toothpaste.

    Apple says damp lint-free cloth is the only recommended way to go and I believe them! Of course, that doesn’t get scratches out.

  15. Zac says:

    This removes the apple logo? I have a small scratch on the apple. I’d really be mad if it removes the logo. -____-

  16. […] a sidenote, the old plastic iPhone 3G/3GS cases were actually easier to maintain because you could buff out the scratches with toothpaste), though I don’t have any direct experience with their products for iPad and other aluminum […]

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