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How to Clean
a TV Screen

January 15, 2021

If you take a closer look at your flat screen TV, you may be surprised by all the dust, dirt, and fingerprints across the screen and on the housing. When the lights are down and you’re watching your favorite movies, it may not be so noticeable, but the truth is it affects your viewing pleasure—and your TV’s performance and life span.

Your television is a commonly missed cleaning spot, but it’s a project that should be on your monthly cleaning checklist. Let’s discuss how to clean a TV screen, the housing, and the connections for audio/video equipment.

Most of our “how-to” cleaning posts start with a list of supplies and information you need to know before you get down to business. But learning how to clean a flat screen TV is a bit different from most cleaning chores. That’s because cleaning a LCD, LED, or other flat screen TV incorrectly could shorten its lifespan, affect performance, or even cause damage.

Instead of starting with what to do, we’re going to begin our guide for how to clean a TV screen with what not to do when learning how to clean a flat screen TV.

What Not to Do When Cleaning an LCD, LED, OLEG, Plasma, or Other Flat Screen

If you don’t take certain precautions when you clean that beautiful 65” LED screen, you might be better off leaving it dirty. Here’s a list of “don’ts” that will help you learn how to clean a flat screen TV the right way:

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  • Don’t clean a flat screen when the TV is still warm. If you try to clean a warm screen with a screen cleaner, it could make removing dirt and grime more difficult and even cause damage.
  • Don’t use window or glass cleaner or any cleaner containing alcohol, benzene, ammonia, or acetone. Harsh chemicals can degrade anti-reflective and protective coatings, cause clouding, or even ruin the screen itself.
  • Don’t use cleaning pads, regular cleaning cloths, or paper towels, because the mildest abrasion can scratch coatings and screens. Even a paper towel can be fairly abrasive and cause buffed areas and fine scratches on flat screen TVs./li>
  • Don’t spray water or other liquids directly on your TV. Flat screen TV screens are made from layers of plastic, glass, adhesives, coatings, and other delicate materials. When liquid touches the edges of the screen, the moisture can wick into the layers and ruin the TV.
  • Don’t rub the flat screen too hard or press into the screen. Flat TV screens aren’t too fragile, but they can be damaged if you press too hard when you’re cleaning.

Whether you use a commercial TV screen cleaner or mix your own, keep in mind that chemicals and moisture are hazardous to your TV. Read your TV model’s instruction manual for cleaning guidelines. If you’ve misplaced your manual, you can locate it online. Look on the back of your set to determine its model number and Google the manual for that model.

The Best Way to Clean a TV Screen

The best way to clean a TV screen is to start with a dry cleaning method. Don’t forget, keep all hands off the TV screen as the less you touch your TV screen, the better. Follow the steps below and you should be able to get rid of most dirt and grime without worrying about damage to your flat screen.

  • Cut the power
    For safety and a better view of those fingerprints and dirt, don’t forget to turn off your TV before you clean it. Unplug the set for good measure. Cleaning a flat screen while it’s warm could cause streaking, residue buildup, and other problems. If you have a plasma TV, you may have to wait up to 20 minutes for it to cool down completely. When you cut the power, you also reduce the risk of any moisture coming in contact with your TV’s wiring and causing an electrical issue.
  • Ditch the dust
    Before you clean your flat screen TV, it’s essential to remove as much dust and dirt as possible without touching the screen. That’s because even the finest dust can scratch your TV’s coatings and screen if you move it around with your cleaning cloth. Use a can of compressed air to remove as much dirt from the screen as possible. Hold the can upright, about a foot from the screen, and spray away. The blasts of air will remove electrostatic-charged dust particles and are particularly good at cleaning out the screen corners.
  • Keep it dry
    Lightly wipe the flat screen with a clean, dry microfiber cloth. If possible, get your hands on one of those smooth microfiber cloths used for glass and lens cleaning (like the ones that come with new eyeglasses). A gentle wiping with a microfiber cloth should get rid of most fingerprints, smudges, and grime.
  • Wax-on, Wax-off, doesn’t apply here
    Most TV screens are somewhat flexible, so it’s difficult to know how much pressure you’re using on a particular spot. Clean with a light touch using a broad wiping motion either left and right or up and down. If you make circular buffing motions, you risk creating buff marks on the surface.

If cleaning your TV with a dry microfiber cloth still leaves smudges, dirt, and fingerprints, you’re going to need more cleaning muscle. Keep reading to find out what to clean a TV screen with to get rid of tough dust and dirt.

What Should I Clean My Flat Screen TV With?

Remember: Moisture can be deadly for flat screen TVs, so only use as much TV screen cleaner as necessary. Here’s a screen cleaner you can make at home and the tools you need for a deeper flat screen TV cleaning:

  1. Microfiber cloths
  2. Compressed air
  3. Vacuum cleaner
  4. Distilled white vinegar
  5. Distilled water

For tough grime and fingerprints on a flat screen TV, one part distilled water and one part white distilled vinegar is a safe and effective cleaning solution. Barely dampen half of a clean microfiber cloth with your screen cleaner and begin lightly wiping back and forth with broad strokes.

While it’s tempting to rub oily or grimy spots directly, remember that even light rubbing in one spot can cause buff marks. Use the dry portion of your microfiber cloth to remove excess liquid and to dry the TV screen. Let the TV dry completely before you plug it back in and turn it on.

Now that you know how to clean a TV screen, let’s move on to the rest of the package. Wipe down the housing around the screen and the base of the TV with a clean, microfiber cloth dampened with distilled water. Now, turn your TV enough to get access to the back and make sure the TV is stable before you continue cleaning.

Next up, we’re going to clean the air vents and ports. Cleaning these areas is important not only for the sake of cleanliness but also to keep your TV working properly.

  • Vents
    The slits or holes on the back of your TV are air vents that keep it from overheating. TV vent cleaning is especially important for plasma TVs that are prone to getting very warm during operation. Your aim is to remove any buildup in your TV’s vents without pushing dirt or dust into its interior. Instead of reaching for a duster or compressed air, use your vacuum’s brush attachment or other extension and vacuum the vents clean.
  • Ports
    Ports on a flat screen TV can be on the back, sides, or the top or bottom of the TV casing. We use these ports for HDMI cables, streaming sticks, gaming systems, external speakers, and other electronics. When dirt and dust build up in these openings, it can cause devices connected to them to malfunction.Since these openings are closed off from the inner workings of a TV, you can use compressed air to safely clean them out. Spray at an angle so you don’t push dirt further into the port and don’t put the nozzle into the port because it could damage the connection.

Learning how to clean a TV screen, the housing, vents, and ports will help your flat screen TV perform at its best. If you have remotes, other audio/video devices, and computers that could stand a scrubbing, check out our guide on cleaning and sanitizing electronics. And when you need help cleaning the rest of your home, The Maids offers flexible, affordable cleaning services for your specific cleaning needs. Get your free estimate online and learn more today.

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