How to Fix Scratched Glass—and When You Should Just Replace It

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated July 22, 2022
A young woman looking at herself in the mirror
Photo: Prostock-studio / Adobe Stock

With just a few steps, your glass will look as good as new

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You’ve moved a glass vase to clean the mantel, only to find you’ve scratched it by accident. Or perhaps your diamond ring caught the bathroom mirror while you were applying makeup, and now the glass sports an unsightly scratch. Although accidentally scratching a glass item can be stressful, removing glass scratches is easier than you might think. You can repair certain items such as mirrors, picture glass, and single-pane glass with only a few minutes of your time.

Glass That You Should Replace Rather Than Repair

No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to repair every glass item. Instead, you may need to replace some if they incur any damage, including double-pane windows, microwave doors, oven doors, tub glass, and automotive glass. Repairs are often inadequate on these items, and cracks or breaks can reappear quickly. 

For everything else, here are some tips for fixing scratched glass.

1. Apply Metal Polish

Start by cleaning the mirror with glass cleaner and a cleaning cloth. This step prevents any debris on the mirror from creating new scratches or deepening the existing scratches while you work. Then, apply metal polishing paste to a clean cloth, and buff it into the scratch in a circular motion. Use a damp cleaning cloth to wipe away the polish and reveal a clean, scratch-free surface.

2. Disguise Scratches With Nail Polish

Raid your old drawer of nail polishes, and find a clear polish normally reserved for your DIY French manicures. Coat the scratch with one thin layer of clear nail polish, and allow it to dry thoroughly for one hour.

Once the polish has dried, add nail polish remover to a microfiber cleaning cloth and wipe around the scratch. This step will remove any excess polish and shine the glass.

3. Buff in Toothpaste

Like the metal polish, white toothpaste can buff away shallow scratches and make the glass look good as new. Add toothpaste to a cleaning cloth, then gently buff the scratch in circles with the cloth for about 30 seconds. Wipe away excess toothpaste with a clean cloth until you get a streak-free shine.

4. Choose a Glass Polisher

A woman polishing some glasses with a cloth
Photo: Andrey Cherkasov / Adobe Stock

Glass polisher helps remove small scratches from glass. Choose a product that contains cerium oxide. Start by mixing up the polisher, if required.

  • By hand: Use a cleaning cloth to buff the glass polisher into the scratch. Then, use a new cloth to wipe away the excess.

  • By machine: Use an electric polisher or rotary tool with a felt wheel on the lowest setting to apply and buff the glass polisher into the scratch. Wipe away the excess.

5. Stick to Baking Soda

What can’t baking soda do around your home? This pantry staple works great for many chores, including removing glass scratches.

  • Combine one part water with one part baking soda in a small bowl to create a paste.

  • Apply the paste to a cleaning cloth.

  • Buff the baking soda paste into the scratches with the cloth, moving in circular motions.

  • Use a damp cloth to wipe away any remaining streaks.

6. Break Out a New Fine Steel Wool Pad

A fine steel wool pad, known as steel wool #0000, is just abrasive enough to polish away small scratches. Use a new pad—like dull kitchen knives, a dull fine steel wool pad is prone to causing more damage. Gently buff the scratch with the steel wool pad, periodically checking to see the scratch. Wipe the area clean with water and a cloth.

DIY vs. Hiring Professional Glass Repair Services

If you’re looking at a small amount of scratched glass, this is an easy project you can knock out yourself. You just need a few household items to get the job done, and supplies will cost you about $25 or less. But removing glass scratches really only works on shallow scratches. 

For deeper scratches, hire a local glass repair contractor, which costs about $290 on average. A professional will be able to repair deep scratches without further damaging your prized possessions.

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