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How to Clean a Flat Screen TV

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Chemicals Not Necessary

Using chemicals to clean your flat screen TV can cause irreparable damage. Remove that glued-on dust with these simple tips.

Flat screen monitors are found on new TVs and computers. Any flat screen monitor needs to be treated with special care when cleaning so that it is not damaged or does not become cloudy after interacting with certain chemicals. Even paper towels or ordinary cloths can scratch or scuff the screen. Flat screens are made with different layers of various plastics, glasses, display elements, and other thin materials. It is important to know the type of flat screen TV you have so you can clean it correctly.

Cleaning a flat screen TV

Although types of flat screens differ to some degree, the same basic cleaning processes can be used on any of them.

First, unplug the TV and then wait for the screen to cool. This not only increases safety, but also makes it easier to see dirt or the oil left by fingerprints.

You may purchase a pre-made electronic cleaning product. If you do, this simply follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Wiping a microfiber cloth against a flat screen TV

Otherwise you will need these supplies:

  • Small container of compressed air
  • Microfiber cloth or a very soft dry cloth (Microfiber is best and can get most fingerprints and dust off with the first swipe)
  • White vinegar (in case a deep cleaning is necessary)
  • Distilled water (Tap water may leave a film or other deposits on the TV)
  • Plastic spray bottle - optional
  • Pre-moistened electronic or all-purpose towelettes (if preferred over home-made vinegar/water mixture – Use these in place of the cloths mentioned in the instructions.)

Instructions

  1. Hold the can of compressed air upright at least a foot away from the TV.
  2. Spray the screen or entire TV, if cleaning the whole thing. This will help dislodge dust particles attracted by electrostatic to the TV.
  3. If there is still dust on the screen or TV use either kind of dry cloth to gently wipe the TV including any knobs, buttons or vents if necessary using broad back and forth or up and down motions.
  4. If the screen or TV is still soiled, use distilled water to slightly moisten the microfiber cloth to wipe it down.  You may also choose to put the distilled water into a plastic spray bottle to spray the cloth. This will help to prevent over saturation and possible damage to the screen.  
  5. Wring cloth thoroughly to prevent excess water droplets from damaging the screen.
  6. Wipe the TV again using light broad sweeping motions.
  7. If further cleaning is necessary, make a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water.
  8. Dip cloth in the mixture and again wring the cloth thoroughly to wipe the TV clean.
  9. Let dry completely before plugging the TV back in and turning it on.

A sudsy cloth being wrung out

Another method of cleaning flat screens includes these supplies

  • Three lint-free, dry cloths
  • A drop of liquid dishwashing soap
  • A small container of warm water

Instructions

  1. Use a clean, dry cloth to wipe the screen.
  2. To clean, dilute the drop of dish soap into the warm water. Use enough warm water to dilute the soap enough so there are not very many suds.
  3. Dip another clean cloth into the soap/water solution.
  4. Wring the cloth out thoroughly.
  5. Wipe the screen.
  6. Rinse cloth thoroughly.
  7. Wipe the screen again to remove soap residue.
  8. Use another clean, dry cloth to wipe the screen to help it dry and remove any streaks.

Types of TVs

Touchscreen, smart TVs, and LCD screens are made of glass but also have a protective anti-glare coating. The types of flat screen TVs has two main differences. These areas are how they produce an image on a screen and the quality of the image produced. These TV types include:

  • LCD (liquid crystal display)/LED (light emitting diode) – the front of the LCD and LED screens are the same. The only difference is how the screen is backlit. LED’s are more effective in backlighting and provide better brightness and contrast levels than LCD’s.
  • Plasma TV – produce their light and color without using a backlighting source
  • OLED (organic light emitting diode) – is self-illuminating in a similar way to the Plasma TV
  • HDTV (high definition TV) – the screen uses digital scanning from a video signal to provide a picture
  • UHD (ultra-high definition) – the screen operates like an HDTV but with better resolution
  • SDTV (standard definition TV) – uses digital scanning from a video signal but has a lower quality picture than the HDTV or UHD

The CRT (cathode ray tube) TV is the older model (1980’s) of TV that have a thick glass screen.

Removing scratches from a screen

Because the use of alcohol is generally not recommended on TV screens, remember to spot-test this approach first, as well as to use a very small amount of alcohol in your solution. It's better to have a TV with some scratches than a TV with clouding that distorts the picture. What you're doing is removing the anti-glare film connected to the monitor to fill in the scratch.

First, clean the flat screen with rubbing alcohol and water; use 1 part alcohol to 20 parts of distilled water. Next, take a clean microfiber cloth, dip it in the mixture, and gently rub in circular motions on the scratches. Keep doing this until you can no longer see the scratch.

If the scratch does not go away, add more alcohol to the solution and try again. Do not use more than a 50/50 mixture or you could damage the screen further. Using a clean, damp microfiber cloth, wipe the entire screen to remove any alcohol. Dry with another clean cloth.

You can also choose to purchase an LCD scratch repair kit. This kit will come with a cleaning solution and a polishing cream which is used to buff the scratch out. A soft cloth will come in the kit, it is designed to prevent any scratching. If you are using a repair kit, make sure that it is specifically for your screen type.

If your TV is under warranty, you should check the terms of the warranty to ensure than any scratch repairing will not make it void.

 

Important tips for cleaning a flat screen monitor

A girl watching TV in front of her flat screen with the family dog nearby

  1. Avoid making circular motions as they can leave hazy spots or circular markings.
  2. Always press gently using a slow, light touch when cleaning so you do not burn out any pixels. Do not scrub.
  3. Never spray a cleaner directly onto the screen.
  4. Even if your flat screen TV does have a glass screen, do not use ammonia or alcohol-based cleaners. These cleaners can strip the anti-glare coating off a screen. This can cause clouding.
  5. Distilled water usually works well, however, it may leave streaks and even some extra static. This can cause dust or fibers to stick to your freshly cleaned flat screen. If this happens you may use a soft cloth to wipe off the streaks.
  6. Q-tips are a good way to clean areas that are difficult to reach with a cloth.
  7. Always start by wiping the TV with a dry, soft cloth. If no smudges or dust remain anywhere on the TV, then stop after this step. Other steps that use liquid should only be used when necessary.

What not to use on a flat screen TV

These chemicals can make the screen turn yellow. Use caution when applying them and research the specific interaction between your TV and the ingredient(s).

  • Alcohol-based cleaners
  • Ammonia-based cleaners
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Acetone
  • Ethyl chloride

Other products that can damage the screen:

  • A paper towel or toilet paper
  • Towels, t-shirts or rags can have microscopic abrasiveness
  • Scratch pads
  • Toothbrushes
  • Any type of wax unless expressly mentioned in manufacturer instructions for the flat screen
  • toluene (paint solvents)

Keeping the screen clean

To keep a clean screen, it is best to avoid touching the screen with your hands. Oil from your fingers is more difficult to remove than dust. It is also best to only clean the screen when necessary to prevent building up static which collects dust. After cleaning, you can wipe the screen with a dryer sheet to also prevent static.

Cleaning a flat screen TV is relatively easy. There are steps you should follow to prolong the life of your TV and keep a clear picture. Be careful not to scratch or smudge the screen. For more help with your flat screen TV, ask an Expert.

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