Easy Fixes for Six Common Laptop Problems

Problem: Scratched screen

Cost: $5
Time: 5 minutes
Materials: Toothpaste, cloth, window cleaner

Replacing a screen and its inverter electronics is a tough job that can cost several hundred dollars and take hours. For an old system, it's likely not worth it. But if the display is only slightly scratched, it's a no-brainer to fix it.

After a trip to the beach on a windy day last summer, I noticed a bunch of small scratches and one big one on the display of my Intel Classmate PC netbook. The scratches annoyingly obstructed the screen's image.

My netbook had one big scratch and several small ones. (Click to view larger image)

These types of scratches can be smoothed out with a dab of toothpaste (and I do mean toothpaste -- the gel varieties usually don't have the necessary abrasives) and a little elbow grease.

Gently rub toothpaste into the scratches. (Click to view larger image)

Rub the toothpaste between your thumb and forefinger and it should feel slightly sandy and gritty. It's these mild abrasives that will fix the screen's problem.

Gently rub the toothpaste in a circular motion over the scratches for a few seconds (not too hard -- you could rub off the screen's surface coating).

Then wipe the screen clean with a soft cloth.

While the large scratch isn't gone completely, the smaller ones are.
(Click to view larger image)

Finish up by cleaning the screen with a non-ammonia-based window cleaner. My favorite is Sprayway, but there are grocery store shelves filled with these products. Look it over and if the scratches aren't gone, repeat the process.

This strategy isn't perfect. With my netbook, the toothpaste only partially removed the big scratch, but it did get rid of all the minor scratches. Plus my netbook now has a minty fresh aroma.

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