Unless you’re the proud parent of a little Picasso who decided to make his next masterpiece on your flat-screen, the build-up on your TV might be subtle enough that you’re inclined to disregard it entirely. I mean, you only really notice when the TV is turned off and the light is at a certain angle—so what’s the big deal, right? Wrong. According to the cleaning pros at American Cleaning Institute (ACI), even just a thin layer of dust and a few smudges can make a screen dirty enough to cause eye strain. As such, ACI recommends cleaning your TV screen on the regular (read: a few times a week). So, yeah, chances are your TV screen is long overdue for a wipe down. Read on for everything you need to know about how to clean a TV screen the right way before you get started, though, lest you damage this costly piece of equipment.
How to clean a TV screen
There are a lot of really bad ways to clean a TV screen. In fact, it’s a little scary how easy it is to do irreparable damage to this delicate piece of technology. On the bright side, the safest ways to clean your TV are also the easiest—just stick with one of the following, expert-approved methods and you can get your TV glistening without even breaking a sweat (or, you know, the screen).
Method 1: Dry, microfiber cloth
As is usually the case, ACI says that the best policy when it comes to cleaning your TV screen is simply to follow the manufacturer’s directions to the letter. There will definitely be cleaning instructions in the owner’s manual—but, truth be told, the owner’s manual for pretty much any flat-screen TV will say roughly the same thing on the subject: Wipe clean with a dry microfiber cloth. In fact, the TV likely came with such a cleaning cloth, designed to help you get the job done without damaging the delicate screen. (Hint: The cloth looks and feels like an oversized version of what you use to clean your glasses.) When cleaning with a microfiber cloth, all you have to do is buff away smudges and dusts by gently wiping in a circular motion—just be sure to use a very light touch; it’s exceedingly easy to damage a TV screen by applying too much pressure, so save the elbow grease for when you have to give your bathroom a scrub down.
Best microfiber cloths:
- Progo Ultra Absorbent Microfiber Cloth ($9)
- SPUDZ Classic Microfiber Cloth ($5)
- HTTX Microfiber Screen Cleaning Cloths ($6)
Method 2: Microfiber cloth + electronics cleaner
So what do you do when a dry cloth just isn’t cutting it? Add a little moisture. Whatever you do, DO NOT reach for Windex to banish the dust and errant fingerprints, though. Yes, this popular cleaning product does a bang-up job of getting glass surfaces squeaky clean, but its formula, which contains both alcohol and ammonia, is too harsh for the special coating of a flat-screen TV.
There are, however, cleaning products that are specially formulated for use on TV screens (see below for some recommendations), and the folks at ACI say those are your best bet. When using a cleaning product for electronics, follow the instructions on the label closely and never spray the product directly onto the TV screen. Other than that, the same technique described above applies to moistened microfiber cloths as well: circular motions and minimal pressure.
Top-rated TV screen cleaners (that don’t contain alcohol or ammonia):
- Whoosh Screen Cleaner Kit ($16)
- Screen Mom Screen Cleaner Kit ($20)
- Insignia Screen Cleaning Solution ($10)
Method 3: Microfiber cloth + water
Good news: It’s totally fine to skip the expensive electronic cleaners and kits and simply dampen the microfiber cloth with clean water instead. In fact, a few drops of H20 is probably all you need to remove unsightly smudges and the like. If you go that route, just keep in mind that the key word is dampen. Needless to say, electronics and water don’t mix, so it’s a very bad idea to wipe your TV with a sopping wet cloth.
How to clean the rest of your TV
Now that the TV screen is sparkling clean, those dusty speakers stick out like a sore thumb. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for that, too—the experts at the ACI recommend using the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to tackle the dust that accumulates on both the TV speakers and the vents in the back of the unit. Easy peasy. As for the TV remote (AKA germ magnet), that puppy should be cleaned daily. To sanitize a TV remote, the ACI says you should opt for disposable disinfecting wipes for a cleaning process that won’t damage the device and can be completed in the blink of an eye—just make sure the remote stays wet for the entire contact period noted on the product label, or the wipe-down might not deliver on the disinfecting front.
There you have it, friends—everything you need to know about keeping a TV clean. May your next binge-watch be a little bit brighter.