Picture of a lightly soiled CD music disc, showing the play side.

How to Fix a Scratched PS3 Disc, PS3 CD, PS3 DVD, and PS3 Blu Ray Game Discs

We’ve played PlayStation games with our nieces and nephews for several years, many of which were bought from used and discount game shops.  Saving money buying these discs in this way unfortunately, had the consequence that many of the PS3 discs would not run in the gaming machine.  So, under mandates from the relatives, we’ve found ways to fix many PS3 discs that would not load.

No PS3 disc is immune from this pesky problem, whether cheap or expensive.  No brand of disc is exempt either.  Indeed, all optical discs, including PS3 game discs, will eventually skip and fail to load, no matter who makes them or what games they offer.  Thus, it’s useful for PlayStation 3 gamer buffs to know how to deal with this occurrence, particularly when kids are handling the discs, leaving them out of their cases, smearing them with chocolate finger prints, et al.  For that, we offer tips below on how to get your PS3 games playing flawlessly again; reducing disc reading times, freezes, and disc ejections by the game machine because it can’t read the disc at all.


The faulty PS3 disc could indeed be scratched.  The disc itself may carry manufacturing flaws, or be  scratched or dirty.  It may be aging beyond its useful life.  Or the disc may have been damaged by improper cleaning techniques previously.  If the scratches or other damages are severe enough, then the PS3 disc may not be reparable.

The PlayStation 3 player could be damaged.  The player itself may be malfunctioning.  Perhaps the laser that reads the digital data from those silvery, discs, has weakened due to age or extensive use.  Perhaps dust has accumulated on the player’s laser lens, or maybe the player’s laser servos or the motor that spins the disc are wearing out.  Like PS3 discs, the PS3 game machines  themselves age, and gradually develop disc reading defects over time. In fact, these specialized computers wear out at a faster rate than the media itself, and often result in playback that’s full of skips.


How to Troubleshoot Possible PS3 Disc Problems

Try the suspect PS3 disc in a friend’s PlayStation 3 machine. If it runs fine there, then consider that if the PS3 machine that exhibits the issue is more than several years old, then it’s probably time for a replacement PS3 player.  As mentioned, these players do indeed age.  Their laser light output decreases as they do, and this eventually impairs the player’s ability to read the optical data on the discs.

Try cleaning the PS3 Disc.  We detail how to do this in our  How to Clean a DVD Disc  post.  Essentially, you should avoid any chemicals harsher than dish soap.  Just use dish soap and water.  Wet the play side of the game disc with a filtered water and soap solution, gently rub with smooth fingers, rinse with more filtered water, and dry with a lint-free lens cleaning cloth.  The washing removes fingerprints, oils, and loose dirt, while the wiping dry with the cloth not only removes the water from the disc, but also polishes out the microscopic scratches that often cause read errors during play.

Try cleaning the PS3 player inside.  The player may become dusty inside, depending on its environment.  They sell a laser lens cleaning CD, designed to clean disc player lenses.  We’ve never had good luck with these however.  But they may work for you, and could potentially save you the cost of buying a whole new PS3 machine.  The cleaning disc has a small brush affixed to the play side.  You put this disc into your player, and when the player spins this disc to read it, the attached brush skims over the laser lens, presumably removing dust and dirt from it.

But if the laser lens cleaner does not solve the hesitant disc reading, and if you feel confident enough to take your PS3 player apart, then remove the top cover from home units, and blow out any dirt and lint; particularly from the rails upon which the laser assembly moves upon.  Avoid too much air pressure though.  A can of residue free air such as pictured next, works well for this.

How to Stop PS3 Discs from Failing in the First Place

Never touch the data surface. Avoid getting fingerprints on the play side of the DVD. Instead, lift them by edges. Do not grab them via their flat surfaces. This limits the need to ever clean up skin oils from them.

Keep harsh cleaning chemicals away!  The strongest cleaning solution you should ever use on PS3 discs, is a mild dish soap and water solution.  Avoid gritty cleansers and polishes.  If you’ve tried everything else though without success, we suggest polishing the scratched discs with toothpaste only.

Take steps to keep your PS3 Discs spotless and clean, before they become soiled. One stitch in time saves nine when maintaining these delicate video discs. To preserve  peak performance, avoid ever dirtying the DVDs to begin with.  Always store them in their cases when not viewing, and avoid exposing to weather and direct sunlight.

Keep your PS3 player clean, cool, and out of the sun.  Avoid permanently setting up the PS3 in dusty locations, and keep it away from direct sunlight and heat sources, to minimize the attraction of dust to it.

Keep your PS3 discs out of the sun as well.  Light and heat can trigger breakdown of the micro thin metallic surface of the disc, increasing the likelihood of slowed or failed reads.  So, to error-free playback for the longest time possible, avoid exposing your PS3 discs to light and heat; especially to the high levels of both that sunshine contains.  This is easy if you keep your game discs in opaque cases (buy them yourself if the game disc does not come with one), and store them away from windows and heat sources such as radiators, machines, audio amplifiers, and so on. A climate controlled environment is best for storing them.

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Revision History

  • 2018-02-22: Originally published.