How to Clean a TV Screen
Essential cleaning know-how to improve your binge-watching routine.
See you later, dirty television screens. Whether your TV screens are challenged by dust or inconvenient smudges that seem to appear from nowhere, it’s time to adopt a simple cleaning routine that takes care of all that. Get your screen clean pronto, and then kick back and enjoy the show.
Before you start guessing at what will work for your home’s needs, refer to the owner's manual that came with your television. It’s always best to get advice from the manufacturer, especially if there’s a warranty involved; however, if that document has long since hit the recycling bin, follow these tips and take necessary precautions so you don’t cause permanent damage to the pixels and electrical components.
Different screens require different cleaning agents, and though we address how to clean old school glass-screen tube TVs and glass-coated iPad screens below, we know it’s more likely that you’re dealing with a flatscreen LCD or plasma television. TL;DR: Avoid abrasion. Avoid excess moisture. Avoid harsh chemicals.
A few tips when it comes to cleaning any screens:
- Use soft, lint-free microfiber cloths and nothing rough or abrasive. Even paper towels can scratch a television, and plasma screens in particular are very delicate.
- Never spray cleaner directly onto your screen. Mist it onto a cloth, and use the cloth to wipe down the screen.
- Always refer to manufacturer guidelines for cleaning and play it safe if there’s any doubt, especially if the only cleaners you have on hand are harsh chemicals with a bad reputation.
Cleaning Plasma, Backlit LED Screens Made With LCD (Liquid-Crystal Display) Pixels, and OLED Television Screens
- Turn off your screen and allow it to cool before you clean it. Having the screen off makes it easier to see the smudges in the daylight.
- Remove dust with a dry microfiber cloth. Wipe around all edges of the screen too, because dust buildup on ports and speakers can negatively affect performance over time.
- Mist a formulated cleaning spray onto a clean microfiber cloth; you can opt for store-bought or try an easy DIY solution, such as 1:1 parts of white vinegar and distilled water, or 1:4 parts distilled water to 70% isopropyl alcohol. These formulas may dry at different rates, so be sure that you don’t oversaturate your cloth.
- Avoid cleaners with ammonia, acetone or higher concentrations of alcohol as they can be too harsh.
- Wipe the surface thoroughly so that no moisture is allowed to remain on the surface. Avoid any saturation into the edges of the screen.
- Allow the screen to air dry.
- If any residual streaks remain, a dry edge of a clean, dust-free microfiber cloth will also help to buff them away.
- Next time you touch the screen or notice a streak, buff it away with a clean microfiber cloth before it becomes a magnet for dust.
Cleaning Your Glass-Coated iPad Screen or an Old-School Tube TV
- Remove dust with a dry microfiber cloth.
- 70% isopropyl alcohol will tackle fingerprints and smudges. Mist it onto a cloth or use a pre-moistened alcohol wipe; do not use bleach.
- Wipe the glass surface and corners, being careful not to let any excess moisture get into speakers or ports.
- Allow the screen to air dry.
- If any residual streaks remain, use a microfiber cloth to buff them away.
Cleaning Your Remote Control
Let’s not overlook how dirty your remote control can get.
- If you’re using a vinegar- or alcohol-based cleaner, thoroughly wipe down the remote with the damp microfiber cloth you used to clean the television screen.
- Avoid excess moisture, because you don’t want it to drip into the buttons.
- Big tip: Remove the batteries first so you don’t accidentally turn on the TV (and undoubtedly, push the magic combination of buttons that turns on subtitles and changes your settings to German … you know how it is).
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