How To Remove Scratches From A Laptop Touchpad (Instant Fix!)

A scratched and scuffed up laptop touchpad is a nightmare to use.

It’s going to misbehave. It’s going to falsely register (or flat out ignore) different swipes and movements, and it’s going to make using your laptop a real drag.

To make things even more frustrating, though, the scuffs and scratches make using your laptop trackpad really unpredictable.

You’ll never know when your fingers are going to glide around perfectly, with the mouse pointer moving along in lockstep. You’ll never know when things are going to go haywire, either, when no amount of moving around on the trackpad will get your mouse to behave.

Luckily, though, figuring out how to remove scratches from a laptop touchpad is a lot easier than most people expect. 

After cleaning your touchpad with alcohol wipes to remove dirt and oils, surface level scratches can be rubbed out with either plastic polish designed for car interiors, or plastic polish kits that are also capable of infilling deeper scratches. Expect to repeat the polishing process several times over before even surface level scratches are eliminated and your laptop is restored to an ‘as new’ condition. 

Let’s run through how to best prepare your laptop and apply these scratch removing solutions with a step-by-step run through below.

Laptop touchpad
Image by worldofstock on Canva Pro

Clean the touchpad surface with alcohol first

The very first thing you need to do, before anything else, is clean your touchpad surface with rubbing alcohol.

There are a couple of reasons you want to take this approach.

To begin with, rubbing alcohol is going to remove any dirt, dust, gunk, or grime that may have built up on the touchpad itself. It might not be that your touchpad is scratched at all – it might just be covered in gunk that looks like scratches!

Secondly, the reason to use rubbing alcohol is because it’s going to evaporate very quickly. That dramatically lowers the potential for your cleaning solution to do damage to the delicate electronics “under the hood” of your laptop.

Put a little rubbing alcohol on a paper towel (or a clean rag) and scrub the touchpad, using just a little bit of force. 

You want it to be completely clean and then give it time to dry.

What kind of scratches are you working with?

Now you want to diagnose the kinds of scratches that you are working with.

Are these surface level scratches that can be easily “buffed out” with just a bit of elbow grease and a little friction?

Or are these deeper scratches that need to be filled, leveled, and then evened out so that your touchpad starts to work the way it did when it was brand-new?

The kinds of scratches you’re dealing with will depend on how you should move forward.

Image by LightFieldStudios on Canva Pro

Try a plastic cleaner and polish intended for cars

Surface level scratches (and some deeper scratches, too) might be able to be cleaned up and erased away with plastic polish such as Meguiars PlastX.

All you have to do is spray a little bit of this kind of cleaner on a paper towel or rag and then rub it into the scratches themselves.

Polish in a circular action, as well as long flat strokes in a back and forth motion to really fill the scratches as much as possible. 

Polish away and repeat the application several times depending on how deep the scratches appear to be. 

Remove any residue that has hardened around the scratchpad using a toothpick. 

The below 4 minute long video will show you how to clean up badly scratched plastic and shows the drastic differences in appearance you can expect to achieve. 

It demonstrates the process on an XBox cover but the principles are the same as a laptop touchpad.

Next try legitimate commercial scratch removers

If car polish doesn’t work after multiple applications, you’re going to want to try legitimate commercial scratch remover products. 

These kits are a little more expensive than a general polish, but they definitely get the job done especially well if you are dealing with scratches that are deeper than surface level.

Apply a bit of scratch remover to a microfiber cloth and then scrub (in a circular motion) to work the material into the scratches themselves.

Again, repeating the application upwards of 5 times is not unusual to fill in deeper scratches. 

It might take you 5 or 10 minutes to buff out all of the scratches (depending on how deep they are), but now you should be good to go.

Use Toothpaste as polish
Image by pepifoto on Canva Pro

If you are on a budget you could using toothpaste as a plastic polish

Only as a last resort should you break out the toothpaste to try and remove scratches on your laptop touchpad.

Toothpaste (not tooth gel!) has tiny bits of abrasive material designed to buff and polish your teeth every time you scrub. This helps to brighten and whiten your smile, but they also work wonders on buffing out scratches in the plastic on laptop trackpads.

You’re going to have to do a bit of work scrubbing and rubbing toothpaste into your trackpad to buff out the scratches. But if there are no other options available, you might be surprised at just how well this last resort solution really works!

Round up

At the end of the day, just know that no matter how scuffed or scratched your laptop trackpad is you’ll be able to breathe new life into it.

All you have to do is follow along with the tips and tricks we highlighted above.

A little bit of elbow grease, a clean paper towel, microfiber pad, or rag, and just a bit of time are all you need to get your laptop operating the way you want it to.

Best of luck going forward!

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