Are your devices covered in dust, fingerprints, and smudges? It’s tempting to spray and wipe them down during your next cleaning sprint. Hold on! You may accidentally scratch your LCD, damage your touchscreen, or cause a short circuit.
So what’s the proper way to clean a dirty screen? The advice you find when turning to manufacturers for cleaning instructions is littered with warnings, and worse, some recommendations may even be conflicting. We shall focus on what you should do and why.
What You Need
You really only need one thing; a good microfiber cloth. The rest is optional. Here’s a list:
optional: lukewarm water
optional: spray bottle
optional: dishwashing soap
Why Should I Use A Microfiber Cloth?
For a flawless result, we recommend using a microfiber cloth because they are lint-free and won’t damage your screen. You can easily get a pack of six microfiber clothes from Amazon for under $9. Non-microfiber cleaning cloths, paper towels, or other fabrics (yes, I’m referring to your shirt) may leave traces like streaks, lint, and micro-scratches. If you don’t have a household microfiber handy, a cleaning cloth for glasses will do, too.
I Can Use A Dry Cloth?
Yes! The fabric is designed to work like a dust and dirt magnet, so you can easily remove dust and light stains with a dry microfiber cloth.
A damp cloth might help getting some more persistent smudges off. This is where the spray bottle comes in. Use it to dampen the cloth (not the display!) by covering it in a mist of lukewarm water.
If you’re dealing with displays covered in greasy stains, you can add a drop of liquid dishwashing detergent to the lukewarm water. While a damp cloth can remove the grease by itself, the soap will help with dissolving and thus loosening any grease on the surface.
Why Should The Water Be Lukewarm?
Physics. Warm water has more heat and therefore higher kinetic energy than cold water. This energy is transferred to anything that comes in contact with the water, meaning it will dissolve dirt or soap faster. If the water is too hot, however, it could damage plastics, which is why we recommend lukewarm water.
What You Should Never Ever Do
Simply put, you should not use anything other than what’s recommended above and you should use common sense. More precisely:
- Never use household cleaners or anything that contains harsh chemicals like ammonia, acetone, toluene, or ethyl alcohol. These chemicals can damage the surface of laptop or LCD displays not made of glass.
- Never use abrasive fabrics, including paper towels. They can leave micro scratches on cleaned surfaces, which will build up over time, causing dull screens.
- Never spray or otherwise apply water directly to your displays. It could leak into the device and damage electronic parts.
How To Clean Your Monitors, TV & Touchscreen Displays
We recommend that you turn off the device before you start.
Assuming your display is only lightly covered in dust and fingerprints, we recommend using a dry microfiber cloth. Start in the top and gently wipe the screen from one side to the other and back, slowly moving down until you have wiped the entire surface. Lightly rub any remaining spots until they’re clean and wipe the screen down one more time.
If your display is slightly more dirty, dampen one end of the cloth by spraying it with lukewarm water. To take off the bulk of the crud, carefully wipe down the entire surface in small circles using the damp end. Gently rub remaining spots until they’re gone. Should you struggle with removing grime using a damp cloth, add some soap to the lukewarm water before spraying the cloth again. Pre-treat stains individually before giving the entire screen a thorough cleaning. Finish by wiping the screen down one last time from one side to the other and top to bottom with the dry end of the cloth.
What Else Needs Cleaning?
Don’t forget to clean your microfiber cloth after you’ve used it! Soak it in warm, soapy water, thoroughly rinse it out, and let it air dry.
By the way, The Wall Street Journal tested cleaning products and found that when it came to cleaning screens, water and a microfiber cloth were just as effective as dedicated kits. For taking off gunk and stains from keyboards and touchpads, however, they did recommend the tested cleaning products.
So while you’re at it, why don’t you clean the rest of your hardware? What item will be your biggest challenge? And when was the last time you cleaned your windows?
Image Credits: Feature Image by IntelFreePress via Flickr, Glasses by mayeesherr via Flickr, Microfiber Cloth by Steve A. Johnson via Flickr, Scratched Glass by borealnz via Flickr, Clean Screening by IntelFreePress via Flickr