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How to clean your TV or monitor the right way

Key Takeaways

  • Cleaning your display properly is important to keep it looking sharp, and minimize the risk of damage to the panel.
  • Use a lint-free cloth, distilled water, and optionally unscented dish soap to clean your screen.
  • Avoid using monitor cleaning kits or fluids, as they are generally overpriced solutions that do not offer any benefits, and may even damage your screen. Stick to the good old cloth and water method.

Modern displays – be it desktop monitors, laptop screens, best TVs or phones – are probably the pieces of tech that we physically look at the most throughout the day. Unfortunately, this means that they are also extremely prone to getting dirty – from fingerprints to mysterious debris of unknown origin (no, you totally didn’t spill your popcorn on the laptop).


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Whatever the source of the dirt, these smears and particles can be quite distracting when watching your favorite content or playing some games – not to mention dangerous to the display itself. If anything abrasive finds its way on your screen and you accidentally drag it on the surface, you’re just a step away from getting a nasty scratch on the panel, and that’s never a great sight.

That’s why cleaning your screen properly and is often so important. That way, you always keep everything you decide to watch or play looking good, but also minimize the risk of damaging your precious device. Let’s see how to properly clean your TV or gaming monitor.

How to clean your monitor 1

How to clean your TV, monitor, or laptop screen

Cleaning your display might seem straightforward, but to get the best (and safest) results, it’s beneficial to do this methodically and carefully. It’ll also work for any display whether it’s your smartphone, your TV or your desktop/laptop display. The method we’re proposing is quick, easy, and does not require any hard-to-get materials – you should already have every required ingredient in your house.

What you’ll need

All the items and ingredients you’ll need to clean your display thoroughly are common household items:

  • Any lint-free cloth, such as microfiber – preferably 3 different ones
  • Distilled water
  • Optional: Unscented dish soap (you don’t want any unnecessary chemicals, so avoid scented soap)
  • Optional: Very soft brush for cleaning displays

How to clean your monitor 2

Step 1: Use a lint-free cloth to gently remove any loose dust and debris

The most important step to ensure that there are no scratches on your screen is removing any loose dust and debris that might happen to be on your screen. These are the most dangerous to the display, as even a single grain of sand when pressed and moved will easily leave a nasty mark on the fragile panel. So, start by taking a lint-free cloth and very gently brush your screen off.

You can also use a very soft brush – anything non-abrasive that will catch all the particles but leave the screen unharmed. Be gentle and don’t apply any pressure at all. Just brush the dust away.

MacBook and water

Step 2: Dampen your lint-free cloth in distilled water

When there are no more small pieces on your display, it’s time to move on to cleaning off all the spots and smudges. This time you’ll need something moist to get rid of the residue, so that’s where the distilled water comes into play.

Use your second lint-free cloth – you shouldn’t use the one from the previous step, as it might have some particles embedded into the fibers, making it easy to get your screen scratched up. Dip it in distilled water – cold is fine, warm but not hot is even better – and dampen the cloth a bit. Do not soak it – the water shouldn’t run, and the cloth should be just a little moist to the touch, without any dripping water.

With this damp cloth, thoroughly clean the display. Preferably do it in two parts, first wiping the screen, moving horizontally, and once again with vertical sweeps, turning the cleaning cloth to the other side in between.

Be aware that the screen should be just a bit moist, no water droplets should run down your device. If they do, quickly wipe them off and squeeze out some water from your cloth – water running down the display means that your cleaning cloth is too wet.

After cleaning the screen twice, it should be good to go – move on to the last step.

Step 2.5: Try a little dish soap

Sometimes wiping off the screen with just a damp cloth might not be enough. If you encounter some particularly greasy smears or hard-to-remove spots, there is one more thing to try. You can mix a little bit of dish soap with your warm distilled water and try pressing the cloth dipped in this solution to the spot. Remember to use an unscented soap – you don’t want to use any unnecessary chemicals if you can avoid it, as screens are covered in layers of protective coatings that might react badly to unnecessary compounds. Keep it gently pressed for some time and try rubbing it off then – it should get softer and clean much more easily.

How to clean your monitor 4

Step 3: Dry the screen with another lint-free cloth

When you’re done using your damp cloth, the screen should be a bit moist still. We’re using distilled water, so there are no minerals ready to stain the display and leave small calcium deposits, resulting in characteristic white spots. However, even if the water is purified, it’s best practice to wipe the excess off. So grab yourself another clean, lint-free cloth and thoroughly wipe your device.

Be careful, as touching the screen with your fingers now will probably result in them leaving fingerprints on the screen once again and making you repeat the whole process. You might also want to turn on your display and set it on a white background. Because of the glow from the pixels, if you see a rainbow smear on the screen, you’ll know this part is still wet, and you should wipe it off.

Do you need to unplug your device to clean it?

The common misconception is that your devices should be unplugged from the wall to clean them, but that’s just a myth. With our cleaning method, where you get barely any moisture onto your screen, there is virtually no way for water to enter the chassis and cause problems.

What’s more, sometimes turning on the display might be beneficial for your cleaning. It might help you notice some stains or smudges (especially greasy ones) that you wouldn’t see on the black screen. With the display turned on, the smudges tend to get this rainbowy glow that you will quickly notice, making it easy to find the spots that you might have missed. However, it has to be said that a black screen is usually the best, as most smudges and spots tend to be most noticeable on a dark background.

Should you use a monitor cleaning kit or fluid?

Honestly, monitor cleaning kits are a bit of an overpriced gimmick. Usually, they contain some kind of cleaning solution and a cleaning cloth. The latter you probably already have in your house, and even if you don’t – it’s like a buck for one, if that.

The solution, however, is often mostly distilled water, with a sprinkle of some chemicals that are really not necessary for the job, and might, in fact, damage protective coatings on your screen. You’re much better off keeping it simple and rolling with the lint-free cloth and distilled water combo – it’ll do the job just as well, and cost you a fraction of a monitor cleaning kit.

MagicFiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloth

MagicFiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloth

Which lint-free cloth is best?

When considering the best lint-free cloths, particularly for cleaning delicate surfaces like screens, it’s important to look for materials that are soft, non-abrasive, and effective at removing dust and smudges without leaving any residue. Here are some examples:

  • Apple Polishing Cloth: Specifically designed for Apple devices, this cloth is made from a soft, non-abrasive material that can safely and effectively clean the screens of iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and other Apple displays, including nano-texture glass. It’s highly effective at removing fingerprints and smudges without leaving lint or scratches.
  • MagicFiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloths: These are highly popular among photographers and videographers for cleaning lenses and screens. MagicFiber cloths are extremely soft and designed to clean without leaving any scratches, streaks, or lint. They’re also reusable and washable, which makes them environmentally friendly and cost-effective.
  • E-Cloth Microfiber: E-Cloth is known for its high-quality microfiber cloths that can clean effectively using just water, no chemicals needed. These cloths are great for cleaning a variety of surfaces, including screens and lenses, and are designed to trap dust and grime without leaving behind any lint.

How do you clean stubborn spots on your display?

Cleaning off some surface smudges or loose dust from your screen is really easy. However, sometimes you come across much tougher spots that seem to be totally resistant to your damp cloth.

Whatever you do with them, do not start frantically rubbing the screen with the cloth – you’re risking scratching the surface and ruining your screen. Also, remember that putting a lot of pressure on your panel can damage it easily, so don’t push too hard on the device.

Your best friend when dealing with such spots is time. Get yourself a cloth and dampen it (just dampen, don’t make it soaking wet) with warm water. Put it directly on the dirty spot, applying gentle pressure. Keep it there for a while – a minute or two should be enough. After the time passes, rub it gently for just a few strokes. It might take a few rounds of this, but you should easily deal with the spot that way.

If it’s really stubborn and you feel like you’re not progressing quickly enough, you can also mix a bit of dish soap into your water. However, do not go overboard – the ratio should be around 1 part of soap to 100 parts of water. Mix it up and repeat the steps above.


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Is the cleaning process different for TVs and monitors compared to laptop screens?

The basic cleaning approach remains similar: Using minimal liquid and gentle wiping. All three types of screens should be cleaned regularly and gently with a soft, lint-free cloth, avoiding excess liquid and harsh chemicals to prevent damage.

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