How to Clean a Flat Screen TV
Here's the RIGHT way to clean your flat screen television or other display. You can easily harm your TV just by cleaning it. Here's what to do and, more importantly, what not to do.
Category: TV & Displays
Flat-screen televisions and monitors, most of which are LCD (including LED-backlit LCD), as well as touchscreen devices of all kinds, require special attention when cleaning.
Flat-screen and touch displays, are much more sensitive and can be easily scratched and damaged during cleaning. The same applies to your laptop or tablet screen, and often, too, to the screen on your smartphone.
TVs can be dust and fingerprint magnets. It's only natural to want to give them a good clean once in a while. All modern TVs have special coatings on their surface that can be ruined by strong cleansers.
Fortunately, you can still clean your TV. You just need to be careful, and never use harsh chemicals. Follow the easy steps below to safely clean your flat screen monitor, TV, laptop screen, or other devices in just a few minutes.
The short version? Don't use liquids, don't press too hard, don't use any traditional cleaners. Microfiber cloths are good, but be gentle. Modern TVs are predominantly plastic, and therefore far easier to scratch than windows or even your phone's screen.
Many new TVs ship with a soft cloth for cleaning the screen. If you've tossed or lost this cloth, it's similar to the kind that comes with pairs of glasses and sunglasses.
How to Clean a Flat Screen TV or Computer Monitor
- Turn off the device. If the screen is dark, it will be easier to see the areas that are dirty or oily. Turning the device off also prevents you from accidentally pushing buttons you don't actually want to push, which happens a lot when cleaning touchscreen devices like tablets, iPad, etc.
- Use a dry, soft cloth and very gently wipe the screen with a microfiber cloth or dry eraser, both are equally fantastic choices.
- If the dry cloth did not completely remove the dirt or oil, do not press harder in an attempt to scrub it off. Pushing directly on the screen can often cause pixels to burn out, especially on laptop displays, desktop monitors, and LCD/LED TV screens.
- This isn't so much an issue on screens designed to be touched, like phones and tablets, but be careful nonetheless.
- If necessary, dampen the cloth with distilled water or with an equal ratio of distilled water to white vinegar. Many companies also sell small spray bottles of special cleaner for flat screens.
- The plastic edge that surrounds the screen can be cleaned with any multipurpose cleaner but take care to avoid contact with the screen itself.
Tips & More Information
- Avoid using paper towels, toilet paper, tissue paper, rags, or something like your shirt to wipe the screen. These non-ultrasoft materials can scratch the display.
- Avoid cleaning products that contain ammonia (like Windex®), ethyl alcohol (Everclear® or other strong drinking alcohol), toluene (paint solvents), as well as acetone or ethyl acetate (one or the other is often used in nail polish remover).
- These chemicals can react with the materials that the flat screen is made of or coated with, which could permanently discolor the screen or cause other kinds of damage.
- Never spray liquid directly onto the screen. It could leak into the device and cause damage. Be sure to always put the cleaning solution directly onto the cloth and then wipe from there.
- These same cleaning "rules" apply no matter if your TV is 8K, 4K, or 1080p (HD). Those differences don't mean the display is necessarily made out of anything different, requiring different cleaning, it's just a measure of how many pixels per inch they shoved in the same space.
- Want to buy your own cleaning products to clean your TV screen and other electronics? See our Best Tech Cleaning Products list for some of our favorite picks.
- If you're cleaning your TV because it appears dirty, but then find that the screen is actually physically damaged, you might be ready for a new HDTV.
Want the longer version? Here's what the top TV manufacturers say about cleaning their screens:
- Gently wipe the screen or the exterior with a dry, soft cloth, such as an eyeglass cleaner.
- For inks from oil markers on the screen, soak a cloth in a non-soap synthetic cleanser diluted (by less than 1% ) with water. Squeeze the cloth tightly to eliminate excess liquid, then wipe gently to remove the ink.
- Use non-soap cleansers cautiously because they may cause environmental problems when disposed of improperly.
- Immediately afterward, gently wipe the screen with a soft, dry cloth.
- Don't use detergent with abrasives such as a cleanser.
- The liquid crystal order may collapse if you apply pressure when wiping the TV screen and it may look like dirt. Turn the power off and then back on to recover from this condition.
- Turn the TV off and let it cool down for a few minutes before unplugging it.
- To clean the frame and screen, gently wipe it with a microfiber cleaning cloth. Make sure to wipe the TV frame and screen as gently as possible. TV screens are fragile and can be damaged when pressed too hard.
- If you don't see results, spray distilled water onto your microfiber cleaning cloth and gently wipe the frame and screen.
- Let the TV dry completely before you plug the TV back in.
Important: Never use any type of window cleaner, soap, scouring powder, wax, or any cleanser with solvents such as alcohol, benzene, ammonia, or acetone. Never use abrasive pads or paper towels. If you do, you can scratch the screen or strip the anti-glare coating off the screen and cause permanent damage. Never spray water directly onto the TV. Make sure to wipe the TV as gently as possible. TV screens are fragile and can be damaged when pressed too hard.
Cleaning your 4K, OLED, or LED TV screen with a soft, dry cloth is recommended. The goal here is to avoid scratching the screen. Gentle, circular motions tend to give better results since the circular motion hits each area from several angles in a single swipe.
Caution: Chemicals such as alcohol, thinners, or benzene should be strictly avoided, as they may damage the protective film covering the panel.
Caution: Don't spray water or other liquids directly on the TV, as electric shock could occur.