How to Clean a Flat-Screen TV Without Damaging It

Hint: Put down that bottle of cleaning spray!

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As with any electronic item, televisions attract dust and are magnets for smudges and children's fingerprints. Luckily, learning how to clean a flat-screen TV is fairly straightforward, requiring little time and few materials.

Whether you have an LCD or a plasma TV, all flat-screen TVs are made of thin, flexible materials and should be treated very gently. They have extremely sensitive components, and chemical cleaners may lead to a broken or blank screen (so skip the window cleaning spray!). Even ordinary kitchen towels or paper towels can cause marks and scratches on the screen.

Buying a flat-screen TV is an investment—one you'd no doubt like to protect. Here's the right way to clean a flat-screen TV and prevent costly damage.

How Often to Clean a Flat-Screen TV

Clean a flat-screen TV once a week to wipe away the inevitable smudge marks, dust, and fingerprints that will accumulate. Giving it a regular wipe down will prevent dirt and oil from building up.

What You Need:

For Your Flat-Screen TV

For Streaks and Smudges

For Your Remote Control

  • Dish soap
  • Cleaning vinegar
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Cotton swabs
  • Toothpick
  • Compressed air canister
  • Sanitizing wipes (optional)

How to Clean a Flat-Screen TV With a Cloth and a Drop of Dish Soap

Step 1: Turn Off the TV

Shutting off your monitor will not only help you see where dirt and dust have collected, but it will also give your screen time to cool down. A warm or hot screen will be harder to clean, increasing the chances that you'll accidentally damage it if you scrub too forcefully.

Step 2: Consult the Owner's Manual

If you take a quick survey of the different cleaning recommendations from various flat-screen TV manufacturers, you'll quickly discover that many of the directions conflict with each other.

When in doubt, check your owner's manual or look online at the manufacturer's website for instructions on how to clean your flat-screen TV. This cautionary step will prevent you from doing something the manual warns against, thus voiding your warranty.

Step 3: Wipe Only With a Soft Cloth

Gently wiping the screen with a dry, soft cloth may be the only universally agreed-upon method for cleaning a flat-screen TV. While this will likely take care of any surface lint, it may not be enough to remove oil or dirt. Be warned, an attempt to scrub the screen by using any amount of pressure may only cause the liquid crystals inside the TV to misalign or burn out.

Step 4: Try a Damp Cloth

Unless your owner's manual specifically prohibits it, carefully wipe the screen with a damp, lint-free cloth. When using water, be sure to spray it onto the cleaning towel rather than directly onto the screen. This will give you more control over where the water is going and how much is being used. Have a dry towel handy for carefully drying off the screen.

Step 5: Add a Drop of Dish Soap

In certain instances, like when your TV gets mixed up in a food fight or when a child with grimy hands insists on touching the screen, you may need to use a little soap to clean the surface.

  • Mix a singular drop of dish soap into ¼ cup of water and apply to a soft cloth.
  • Wipe the mess away using the soapy cloth.
  • Lightly dampen a second cloth in water to wash off any soapy residue.
  • Dry the screen with a third soft, lint-free cloth.

How To Remove Streaks and Smudges From a Flat-Screen TV

You may still have some streaks and smudges after cleaning a flat-screen TV. In this case, it may be time to invest in a bottle of distilled water. Distilled water contains no impurities or minerals like calcium or iron, so it doesn't leave a residue.

Step 1: Dampen Cloth With Distilled Water

Dampen a microfiber cloth with distilled water and wring it out. The cloth should only be slightly wet. Never spray water directly on the screen.

Step 2: Wipe Screen

Gently wipe the screen from top to bottom in wide motions. Pressing too hard can damage the screen.

Step 3: Try Vinegar

If all else fails, dampen another microfiber cloth with a solution of ½ cup of distilled water and ½ cup of cleaning vinegar and repeat the gentle wiping process.

How to Clean Your Remote Control

Unlike a flat-screen TV, where the dust and fingerprints are obvious to the eye, the germs lurking on your remote control are less obvious. The remote can be one of the most frequently touched objects in your house—and by various people. It's also one of the trickiest spots in your house to clean.

Step 1: Remove Batteries

Open the panel that holds the batteries and take them out before cleaning. If you have a chargeable remote, be careful not to get moisture near the input socket.

Step 2: Mix Cleaning Solution

To eradicate germs, you'll want to use a mild disinfectant. Mix a few drops of antibacterial soap with 1 cup of warm water. (For a natural DIY option, make a solution of one part vinegar and two parts water.)

Step 3: Wipe All Sides

Dip a lint-free cloth in the solution so that the cloth is merely damp, and gently wipe down all sides of the remote. A sanitizing wipe also works, but use the alcohol-free kind because alcohol can damage the rubber.

Step 4: Tackle the Crevices

Loosen any dirt or grime stuck between the buttons with a toothpick or cotton swab. Use a compressed air canister to spray the loosened dirt out.


Can I use Windex on my flat-screen TV?

No, steer clear of Windex. While it does have uses beyond cleaning glass (it's great for your car's dashboard, steering wheel, and sideboards), Windex contains alcohol and ammonia. These harsh chemicals can damage a flat-screen TV.

Can I use Clorox or Lysol Wipes on my flat-screen TV?

No, these disinfectant wipes have harsh chemicals that can destroy the delicate film that coats your flat-screen TV. You can damage the screen and make the image difficult to see.

Will paper towels scratch my TV?

Resist the temptation to reach for a paper towel to wipe your TV. Not only can it scratch the screen, but it can leave behind a lint residue. Stick with a soft microfiber cloth.

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