iPod with Brasso

How to repair scratches on iPods or any other glossy plastic electronic screen or case yourself.

When I scratched an iPod screen, here is what I learned while researching repairs. Many folks sell expensive scratch repair kits for glossy plastic screens and cases on electronics like some Apple iPods, laptops, mp3 players, cell phones, even CD and DVD. But you don't need kits. The magic ingredient is Brasso, a metal polish. An eight ounce bottle is about $3.00 at your local WalMart. Brasso is also available online. Eight ounces is a lifetime supply for polishing iPod scratches. Brasso will polish most shiny metal surfaces on these products, too.

A container of Brasso, which you can use to polish an iPod

Brasso, a metal polish that works most shiny polycarbonate plastics.

Brasso is a metal polisher. It is actually a very mild abrasive. (It is made of petroleum distillates and silica. The distillates are just the medium; the silica does the work.) It is so mild it polishes. It is designed for metal, but it works just as well on glossy, hard polycarbonate plastic, such as some iPods, first and second generation iPhone backs, cell phones, and glossy plastic laptop and electronic cases. It will work on most shiny metals, such as the metal back on iPod touch.

NOTE: This method will NOT work properly on matte finishes on plastic or metal--it can remove the scratch, but will also polish away the matte finish leaving a shiny spot. It will not work on colored or "anodized" aluminum because it will remove the color. It will not work on glass scratches.

You will also need a soft, lint-free cloth. Microfiber cloths used for cleaning LCD screens and camera lenses work well, but a corner of an old t-shirt is fine. Do not use paper of any kind; paper can be too abrasive and may add scratches!

Just put a dab of polish on the scratched area and rub with the cloth. You will have to rub a lot, and rub longer the deeper the scratch. This is by design--if Brasso were any more abrasive, it would scratch rather than polish.

Disclaimers: Before using any polishing product, be sure the polish is suitable the material to be polished and to follow directions on the label. Use this advice at your own risk. I use an iPod for our example, but models change. Newer iPods may use glass screens rather than polycarbonate plastic. iPhones and iPod Touch have a special coating that resists fingerprints; this coating may be removed by polishes. Do not drink Brasso. Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

Three rules for the best results when polishing scratches on plastic

Some people have complained that using Brasso results in fine swirl marks clouding the surface. I have not had this problem, but here are THREE RULES for best results:

  1. Only use a soft, clean cloth. NEVER paper, NOT EVEN facial tissues (e.g., Kleenex). Paper contains fiber that may scratch your device more. microfiber is best; a soft cotton handkerchief; lens cloth (not lens paper) for cameras also good. Don't grab any old rag from the rag pile, as any dirt or hard fibers in the cloth will scratch. (This is the same advice your optician will give you for care of plastic eyeglasses.)
  2. Vary your rubbing pattern as you go. For example, do not rub in a simple circle in the same place for the entire time. Just like sanding wood, even a light abrasive will show swirl marks if you keep rubbing the same spot the same way. Spiral around the entire surface to be polished in a random manner.
  3. Brasso is intended to work best on light scratches. Deep gouges take more rubbing, and hard, concentrated rubbing on a single deep scratch may make violation of rule #2 more likely. Don't try to rub out every deep scratch completely. Use Brasso to takeout light scuff and scratches, and diminish deeper blemishes, but don't expect it to grind out everything.

My personal experience polishing scratches on an iPod

Update: Since preparing this tutorial, I have also used Brasso to remove scratches from the shiny metal back of the pictured iPod as well as an iPod touch.

My scratched iPod before Brasso polish
My scratched iPod before Brasso polish. I scratched my iPod 30GB Video (5th generation). Not on purpose, mind you. It was more of a scuff with some deeper scratches. It looked like a smudge that would not wipe off. (It is difficult to photograph the scratches.)
Preparing to polish the iPod with Brasso
Preparing to polish. I purchased an 8 oz bottle of Brasso at the local WalMart. It was about $3.00. I already had a microfiber cloth on hand.
Brasso liquid is tan
Brasso liquid. The Brasso polish is a tan liquid. It has fumes, but they weren't too bad. They had a smell that reminded me of ammonia and paint thinner. I used such small amounts that the odor quickly dispersed in the big room I worked in, though sensitive people will likely want ventilation.
iPod surface during Brasso polish
iPod during polishing. A little dab went a long way. I avoided the clickwheel; a little of the Brasso did get on the clickwheel but wiped off easily with no damage. I rubbed in little circles with same corner of the cloth I used to dab the Brasso. The liquid evaporated quickly, leaving a smear of abrasive that I continued to rub.
iPod surface after Brasso polish
iPod surface after Brasso polish
iPod after polishing I rubbed for five minute stretches, then checked my progress. I wiped off all the Brasso with a clean microfiber cloth. It wiped off easily. It took about 15 minutes of continuous rubbing to get the iPod into the condition pictured. I was able to repair most of the scuff; a deeper scratch that was within the scuff remains, but it is much less evident. It would need some more rubbing. But the visually distracting scuff is all but gone, and I was satisfied with that for now.


  • It takes a while. Just trust me and keep rubbing.
  • Brasso has fumes that may bother some. Use it with plenty of ventilation.
  • Brasso works for the smooth parts of your iPod. Any matte-finish, textured parts, such as the click wheel on the iPod nano, the on/off switch on the iPod shuffle may get stained using this method. I recommend keeping the polish away from any non-shiny parts of your iPod.
  • This also works on the screen and the shiny metal back of the iPod touch and other models with such a back. It takes longer to buff metal.
  • Works on Compact Discs and DVD's too--most hard, smooth, shiny plastics!
Preparing to polish iPod scratches with Brasso Polishing iPod scratches with Brasso Brasso is a tan liquid useful for polishing iPod scratches


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