How To Clean a Flat Screen TV or Computer Monitor

Cleaning Techniques to Prevent Damage

Photo of a couple sitting on a couch, watching their flat screen TV, all while using their smartphone and laptop
© Tetra Images / Getty Images

Flat screen monitors and televisions, most of which are LCD (including LED-backlit LCD) displays, as well as touchscreen devices of all kinds, require special attention when cleaning.

Older CRT screens, the kind used in large "tube" monitors and TVs, are glass and can be cleaned in pretty much the same way as you would any other glass in your home or office.

Flat screen and touch displays, however, are much more sensitive and can be easily scratched and damaged during cleaning.

The same applies to your laptop or tablet screen, and often too to the screen on your smartphone or ebook reader.

Note: Plasma TVs are glass, as are many touchscreens, but often also have very sensitive anti-glare coatings applied. I recommend taking the same special care with those types of displays.

Follow the easy steps below to safely clean your flat screen monitor, TV, laptop screen, or another device in just a few minutes.

How To Clean A Flat Screen TV or Computer Monitor

  1. Turn off the device. If the screen is dark, it will be easier to see the areas that are dirty or oily.
    Turning the device off also prevents you from accidentally pushing buttons you don't actually want to push, which happens a lot when cleaning touchscreen devices like tablets, iPads, etc.
  2. Use a dry, soft cloth and very gently wipe the screen with a microfiber cloths or dry eraser, both equally fantastic choices.
    See Tip #1 below for kinds of fabric to avoid.
  1. If the dry cloth did not completely remove the dirt or oil, do not press harder in an attempt to scrub it off. Pushing directly on the screen can often cause pixels to burn out, especially on laptop displays, desktop monitors, and LCD/LED TV screens. This isn't so much an issue on screens designed to be touched, like phones and tablets, but be careful nonetheless.
  1. If necessary, dampen the cloth with distilled water or with an equal ratio of distilled water to white vinegar. Many companies also sell small spray bottles of special cleaner for flat screens.
  2. The plastic edge that surrounds the screen can be cleaned with any multipurpose cleaner but take care to avoid contact with the screen itself.

Tips & More Information

  1. Avoid using paper towels, toilet paper, tissue paper, or something like your shirt to wipe the screen. These non-ultrasoft materials can scratch the display.
  2. Avoid cleaning products that contain ammonia (like Windex®), ethyl alcohol (Everclear® or other strong drinking alcohol), toluene (paint solvents), as well as acetone or ethyl acetate (one or the other is often used in nail polish remover). These chemicals can react with the materials that the flat screen is made of or coated with, which could permanently discolor the screen or cause other kinds of damage.
  3. Never spray liquid directly onto the screen. It could leak into the device and cause damage.
  4. These same cleaning "rules" apply no matter if your TV is 8K, 4K, or 1080p (HD). Those differences don't mean the display is necessarily made out of anything different, requiring different cleaning, it's just a measure of how many pixels per inch they shoved in the same space.