How to Clean a Flat Screen TV

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors  | 

man cleaning flat screen tv
Be careful of what you use to clean your flat screen TV. PeopleImages/Getty Images

Flat screen monitors such as those found on your TV or computer are known as LCD monitors or high-definition flat-panel display. They're very different from the screens found on old CRT or "tube" TV models. Those older models had thick glass which could easily be cleaned with window cleaner and a paper towel. Not so with an LCD or plasma screen. The LCD panel is made of specially designed flexible plastic and is very sensitive to chemicals. If you apply cleaners with chemicals in them, you may end up with a blank flat screen. Even using ordinary kitchen towels or paper towels may scratch the screen and leave lint.

As you can see, it's important to know how to clean your flat screen TV without causing damage. You can, of course, buy bottles of special cleaner, but why bother when you can make the solution yourself?

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Here's how to clean a flat screen TV:

  1. Turn off the monitor. If the screen is dark it will be easier to see the dirty and oily areas.
  2. Use a dry, soft cloth -- the kind you would use to clean your eyeglasses -- and very gently wipe the screen. If this doesn't remove the oil or dirt, do not press down harder and try to remove the dirt. Pressing down on the screen will cause the pixels to burn out. Rather, proceed to the next step.
  3. Make a solution of equal parts water and vinegar (or water with a tiny amount of dish soap). Dampen a cloth in the solution and gently wipe the screen. Again, rubbing and scrubbing will damage the screen.

Here are some important tips you should know:

  • Avoid using paper towels, toilet paper or something like your shirt to wipe the screen, as these may scratch or damage the screen.
  • Do not use products that contain ammonia, ethyl alcohol, acetone or ethyl chloride. These chemicals, which are often found in commercial window cleaners, can cause the screen to turn yellow.
  • Never spray liquid directly on the screen as it can run inside the monitor and cause damage [sources: Morrison, Bright Hub].

Originally Published: Mar 31, 2011

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Clean Flat TV Screen FAQs

How do I clean my flat-screen TV without leaving behind streaks?
Wipe the screen with a soft microfiber cloth that has been dipped in water. Squeeze out excess liquid before getting started.
Can I use Windex to clean my flat-screen TV?
No. Windex and other window cleaners contain ammonia and alcohol that can wreck your TV screen.
What will happen if I wipe my flat-screen vigorously?
There are liquid crystals inside all flat-screens that can get affected if you scrub too hard, and impact picture output.
How do I clean smears off my flat-screen?
Use a microfiber cloth dampened with a vinegar-water mixture. Carefully wipe over any fingerprints and smudges.
Can I use rubbing alcohol to clean my flat-screen TV?
A solution containing equal parts rubbing alcohol and water may be used. Dip the edge of a piece of cotton cloth in the solution, making sure to remove excess liquid. Gently wipe the screen all over, especially spots where you can see smudges. Once this is done, take a dry piece of soft cloth for a final wipe.