Removing Iphone Screen Scratches





Having trouble removing scratches from that tough as nails screen? There is a way, but it takes a lot of elbow grease.

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Step 1: About the Phone

The iPhone, different from the ipods has a glass screen on the front to aid in scratch resistance. One way to do this is to temper the glass. While making this incredibly hard and scratch "resistant," it makes it practically impossible to remove the scratches with anything you would think would polish it. Brasso does not work, Scratch remover for cars do not work.

I have the new iPhone and it is certainly a wonderful toy. You protect it but somehow something scratches the front. Perhaps you left your keys in the same pocket, or you put the phone face down on a table or surface where there happened to be sand, or some other abrasive on it. Regardless of what caused it, it is a debeautifying mark that needs to be removed. I will detail the process of removing the scratch. I did not take photos during the process but it is not complex, just time consuming.

Step 2: What You Need - Scratchy Surface

(Asterisk Means Optional)
Clean, New rag.
*New hard Felt buffing wheel, or one that has only been used on glass.
1200 grit wet dry sand paper
*1600 grit wet dry sand paper
Cerium Oxide (more about this later)

With harder surfaces you need to figure out what kind of scratch it is. Is it a deeper scratch, or was the surface simply scuffed? To find this out, run your fingernail over a cleaned screen and if you can't feel it, go on to step 4. If you can feel it, you cannot simply polish it out. You must go into the danger zone and put sandpaper on your phone and give it a good rub down.

Step 3: Dont Call Me Sandy.

This step is if you can feel the scratch with your fingernail. If not, go to step 4.

First, take a piece of your 1200 grit and cut it into a small square about the size of the pad of your finger. Get it wet with water and then locate the scratch on the face of your iphone. Begin sanding off the scratch.

The reason I call this the danger zone is because of something that can happen to glass when you sand it called lensing. It will create a slight concave in the glass which effectively does the same thing as glasses do for your eyes. It bends the light. However, the screen is not out of focus so this is bad bad bad. To remedy this, go slowly. Make longer strokes and use moderate pressure. Let the sand paper do its job. You don't want to dig out the scratch.

Keep the area wet. Do not worry about water getting into the iphone, there is a rubber gasket around the edge of the screen. However, you want to keep water away from the home button and the speaker. This isn't difficult as water sticks together so it doesn't move a lot. Don't soak the phone, just enough to get the sand paper moving.

Place the square of sand paper over the scratch and just press with the pad of your finger and sand as you would wood (all in the same line.) As you sand, the glass that gets sanded off will make a bit of a paste with the water. As long as it is runny, it is fine. Let it get too thick and you will get nowhere. Keep the sanding area runny.

Keep looking for the scratch, and feeling it with your fingernail. After a while you wont be able to feel it, but you can still see it. Keep going until it is "nearly" gone. Go all the way and you risk lensing the glass.

Once you are done, you should have a very visible scuff on your phone. It should only take about 10 minutes to get to this place even if you are really slow. The 1600 grit is nice to use if you want it. It reduces the amount of polishing time dramatically, but I would only use it if you are polishing with a rag. Sand the area the same as before with the 1600 grit. But instead of sanding away a scratch, sand until it feels like you are sanding a smooth surface (about 5 min.)

Now get ready for the hard part (or not if you have the buffing wheel.)

Step 4: Polish to a Shine

Cerium Oxide is the best glass polish you can get. It is the industry standard for polishing glass windows and especially car windshields. You can get this on ebay, or if you have a friendly local car windshield repair shop you might get some for free. A little of this stuff goes a long way.

Once you get a scratched removed, or deem that it is only a scuff there are two routes to take.

1. Use a rag and work your butt off and get tennis elbow. <-- What I did.

2. Use a hard felt pad and have it done in a fraction of the time by a machine.

Whatever route you take, you must mix the cerium oxide with water. All you need to do is mix it together with just a little bit of water to make a slurry. Not dry or clumpy, but not runny either. Runny is more usable that clumpy however.

So now that you have your slurry, you must use it on the phone. With a rag, just fold up the rag and dip it into the slurry and begin working. Work it in a circular motion as well as in lines. This stuff needs a good deal of pressure with a rag, so don't be afraid to put some oomph into it. It will get warm and dry up from the friction, so keep adding a little bit of water at a time to keep it damp, but not runny.

Find a comfortable position and turn on some trance music to get into a groove and keep going until you want to die. Clean off the screen with a dry rag and check your progress. Remember, a little goes a long way. You can still use whats left on the rag. Keep going until you are satisfied.

Buffing Wheel
If you are using the polishing wheel, which I would highly suggest the method is much simpler. Just put the slurry on the buffing wheel and put the face of the screen on the buffing wheel. The machine will do all the work and you just need to hold it steady. This will take time too, but not nearly as much. Keep the pad damp so it does not get clumpy.

That's it. Just keep working on it until the scuffs are gone. You may have to go back with some of the wet dry paper if you are not satisfied. However, usually only deep scratches cause visual impairment. When the screen is on, you do not notice small ones as much.

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    17 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Cerium oxide is not so easy to find from my experience. Maguiar's ScratchX 2.0, a car polish paste, works pretty well as a substitute.

    By the way, this trick does wonders for worn out handheld game systems with just a few tweaks. I used 1000 grit sandpaper, then moved to 2000 grit to further break down the anti-glare coating. You wrap it all up with an application of the ScratchX 2.0, which removes the scratches entirely and polishes the screen to a shine. Thanks!

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Cerium Oxide can be purchased from ebay, amazon, and pretty much any quality automotive store (not a kragen) I have ever been into. Either you aren't looking very hard, you aren't old enough to purchase anything online, or your are just advertising for Maguiar's (which is a pretty solid company).


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    (taps "be nice" sign)

    No, I didn't have any luck finding cerium oxide. I looked, I asked around, and it didn't get me very far. And while I am plenty old enough to purchase items online, I'd have to spend more money to get roughly the same amount of cerium oxide on Amazon. I already had Maguiar's lying around and found it more convenient to use. It just doesn't work well for removing the anti-glare coating on its own. You have to use the sandpaper first.

    I do appreciate the Instructable at any rate; it was helpful with just a little adjustment.

    DIY Dave

    10 years ago on Introduction

    I saw in the upper left corner of your iphone screen it said "cingular " I thought you could only get iphone service through AT&T. What other cell providers can you get it though?

    5 replies
    reluttrDIY Dave

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Cingular was the original ones to have the iphone, thus why the earlier photos said cingular. However as it is known at&t bought cingular and now the iphone is only on at&t in the us without a unlock.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Actually, it was Cingular that bought AT&T; they just kept the AT&T name for name recognition.

    Argon27DIY Dave

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I don't think Verizon would be an option for the iPhone. Verizon does not use SIM cards, instead they lock a specific number to a phone. AT&T, T-Mobile, etc. do.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    My used iPod touch is completely scratched up, I tried sanding it with both 1200 and 1500 grit sandpaper for about an hour and a half. It doesnt seem to have much of an effect. What would you recomend? thanks for your appreciation

    eric m

    10 years ago on Introduction

    cerium oxide? Is that 'Jeweler's rouge' ? available everywhere really.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Glass is only as strong as glass. If you try to scratch i with steel it wont scratch unless you are using a significant force. Diamonds will do it, as will equally hard glass. Sand can even scratch it if it has a sharp edge on it.

    This is very helpful, as I have a small scratch on the screen of my iPod Touch that has been annoying me for about a month now. I also have a question...
    I've seen commercials a while back for a liquid used to fill in scratches in of eye glasses. Do you think that would work for this?

    2 replies

    What you are talking about is liquid lense. Google the term to find out how much it doesn't work. I wish it did, would be much easier!