How to Clean an LCD Screen

March 29, 2010 at 12:51 am 7 comments

Between televisions and computer screens, most readers likely have at least one LCD screen to clean. It’s really important to know how to clean one, but maybe even more important is how NOT to clean one.

DO NOT use the following:

  • Paper products
  • Glass cleaner
  • Tap Water

The first suggestion I would make is to check your manual for exact cleaning instructions. In many cases, they will recommend their own expensive cleaning solution (more on the contents of that later) but they may also warn about using alcohol or some other cleaners.

Your computer screen will probably get much dirtier than your TV screen, since you cough and sneeze very close to it. Not to mention, whenever somebody else points to something on your screen it is traditional to leave a finger print — that is so you remember exactly where they were pointing until you clean it off during your Friday afternoon time wasting routine.

If you just need to remove dust, use a large microfiber cloth. You can find one on Amazon for about $3.50 and they’re good for cleaning eye glasses, sunglasses, camera lenses and most other optical glass that you don’t want to damage with paper towels or t-shirt sleeves. Click here for one, look at the alternate sellers for the best price ($3.36 at time of writing).

I should note that LCD screens are not glass, they are basically plastic. Do not clean them as if they are glass since many cleaning solutions can permanently damage this material. I found this out the hard way when cleaning the inside of a car I used to own. I was spraying the dashboard with a cleaning solution and some of it got on the clear plastic that was in front of the gauges — it was permanently blemished in one tiny spot. I looked at the instructions on the cleaner and it specifically warned against using on plastic, oops!

Some plasma TVs do have a glass front panes, but in some cases they also have anti-glare coatings on them, don’t use glass cleaner unless it is recommended in the manual.

I checked manuals from almost every major manufacturer and some of them didn’t even include cleaning instructions, but here are the exact cleaning instructions taken from a Toshiba manual:

Always unplug the TV before cleaning. When cleaning your TV, please first remove any dirt or dust from the surface. Gently wipe the cabinet and the display panel surface (the TV screen) with a dry, soft cloth only (cotton, flannel, etc.). The enclosed cleaning cloth is for cabinet cleaning. Harsh rubbing or use of a dirty or stiff cloth will scratch the TV surface. Avoid contact with alcohol, thinner, benzene, acidic or alkaline solvent cleaners, abrasive cleaners, or chemical cloths, which may damage the TV surface. Never spray volatile compounds such as  insecticide on the TV surface. Such products may damage or discolor the TV.

It’s really specific about what not to do, but pretty generic about actual cleaning. As you can see, they actually recommend cleaning the screen with a dry cloth, but sometimes you have stuff stuck to the screen that won’t wipe off. In these cases, you want to use a gentle cleaning solution.

Screen cleaning liquids are available, and they’re relatively cheap compared to the price of your screen. Click here for a link to some on amazon ($7.99).

I looked into Material Safety Data Sheets to find out what is in these cleaners. Manufacturers have to provide these safety sheets for consumer chemicals in case that product is swallowed or comes into contact with eyes or skin. LCD screen cleaners are mostly water but contain some other solutions too.

Kensington Screen Guardian contains “butyl cellosolve” while the Kensington Desktop Screen Cleaner contains “sodium lauryl sulfate” and “anionic tenside”. The Fellowes brand cleaner contains “butoxyethanol”, which is another name for “butyl cellosolve” (same as Kensington Screen Guardian).

These checmicals are surfactants (surface acting agents), which are wetting agents that reduce the surface tension of a liquid, making it easier to spread. These same chemicals are found in many household cleaners, liquid soaps, cosmetics, paint and whiteboard cleaners. They don’t contain alcohol, which mean they are good for your screen but they are still very bad for you. Butoxyethanol has been linked to many illnesses, including autism and various fertility and birth problems, so avoid contact with these substances when you use them, including inhalation.

Broken Secrets

Written By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Surfactants, Butoxyethanol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Entry filed under: Around The House, Demystified, Health and Beauty. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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7 Comments Add your own

  • […] 1, 2010 On Monday, I talked about how to properly clean LCD televisions and monitors. Those instructions will help you keep the screen clean, but what about the electronics […]

  • 2. Charyl  |  April 6, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I prefer to use the same method that you recommended for cleaning the inside of the monitor for the cleaning of the screen.

  • 3. Julian Foley  |  April 16, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Doesn’t say what to use other than proffesional cleaners for lcd screens.

  • 4. margaret  |  May 21, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    I used a microfiber cloth, little water and white vinegar. My lcd tv is streaky but not damaged. Any suggestions? .

  • 5. mac  |  December 28, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    I wanted to know ahat to do, not what NOt to do. Some secret!

    • 6. Chad Upton  |  December 29, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      You may want to try refreshing the page. It sounds like the part you’re looking for didn’t load.

  • 7. Jeff Harrison  |  March 16, 2014 at 5:17 am

    OK, I need to buy a special product that is not normally used around the house everyday to clean this clear plastic thing we use everyday and must be cleaned often.
    I think your knowledge is clear however I think what you are saying is that there is no regular home remedies without buying specific cleaners for this appliance that we use and need to clean very often.


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