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Display technology has come a long way in recent years. OLED and LCD screens are brighter, more colorful and responsive than ever before, but at some point, they all still succumb to dust, dirt and grime. What’s worse is that there are a plethora of cleaning products out there that claim they can make your screen sparkle again. But in our testing, we’ve found that the simplest route is actually the best. In this how-to, we’ll show you how to clean all the screens in your home, from TVs to smartphones.
How not to clean your display
Before we get to how to clean a screen, there are a few ways you don’t want to go about the process. The first, and most important, is that you don’t want to clean a display using substances like isopropyl alcohol or Windex. Alcohol- and ammonia-based cleaners can damage your screen’s anti-reflective coating. Using those substances repeatedly can lead to clouding and the coating becoming uneven.
Companies like Whoosh make cleaning agents that won’t damage your screen, but in my experience, you’re best off using distilled water. It’s more affordable than a dedicated cleaning agent and more versatile too since you can use it on a variety of surfaces. It also won’t leave behind any residue on your display, which is something I’ve seen products like Whoosh do occasionally. You can buy distilled water at a grocery store or make it yourself with some simple cookware.
In a pinch, you can use tap water, but we recommend against it. Depending on the hardness of the water in your area and how your municipality treats it, there may be minerals and chemicals that will again either leave behind residue or, worse yet, damage your display’s coating.
Once you have some distilled water, you’ll want a separate spray bottle. One option is to reuse one you already have at home, but if you don’t have a spare, Muji makes these handy travel bottles in 100ml, 50ml and 30ml sizes that are perfect for the task, and you can find similar bottles on Amazon.
Next, be mindful of what you use to wipe your screen. You want to avoid using paper towel, dish rags and anything else that may have an abrasive surface that will damage the coating on your screen. You can use the sleeve of an old but clean t-shirt. That said, you’ll get the best results using microfiber cloths. That’s because the fabric they’re made from is extremely soft and good at attracting dust. We suggest buying a pack of them so that you always have a clean one on hand. The last thing you want to do is use a dirty one and transfer any dirt and grime onto your display.
Lastly, avoid spraying any liquid directly on a display. You’ll have a lot more control if you deposit it on your microfiber cloth and it’s much easier to avoid any of it making its way into the more sensitive parts of the display.
How to clean your display
With all that out of the way, the actual process of cleaning a display is straightforward. If you’re only dealing with some dust, use a can of compressed air or an air blower to dislodge it. You can also turn to a dry microfiber cloth.
For anything more than that, dampen your microfiber cloth with a small amount of distilled water and then gently wipe the display. Once you’ve gone over the entire surface, turn over the cloth and use the dry side to remove any excess water. At this stage, avoid buffing the screen or using excessive pressure. You don’t want to work any particles into the surface of the screen.
That’s it. You should have a clean display now. Obviously, it will take longer to clean a bigger screen, but you can put to use the tips mentioned for all types of displays, including TVs, monitors and glass smartphone displays.