Cleaning

How to clean a TV screen without leaving scratches or streaks

Make your TV screen gleam.
Flat screen TV wall-mounted above a fireplace in a Hamptons style living room.Photography: Simon Whitbread | Styling: Heliconia

A big, giant television may not be an ideal focal point for a living room – or so goes the interior design lore – but in most homes, the reality is that the TV really is just positioned as most important element, hung on a wall where everyone can see it. Which is why it’s so important that the TV screen is clean. TV sizes are growing, and retailers say the most popular sizes range from about 65 to 75 inches. That’s a large canvas for greasy, sticky fingerprints (if you have kids you’ll understand), smudges and lingering dust particles! An unclean screen doesn’t make for the best viewing experience, either.

So, how do you clean a TV screen? Which cleaning products are safe to use on a television, and how do you clean it without leaving unsightly streaks? What about all the dust that gets caught in the back of the TV? We spoke to Colin Jones, Category Expert at Appliances Online for the lowdown on all things TV screen cleaning. 

White and grey contemporary coastal living room

(Credit: Photography: Simon Whitbread | Styling: Jamee Deaves)

What is the best way to clean a TV screen?

The best way to clean a TV screen is: gently. But before you so much as even whip out a microfibre cloth, be sure to unplug the unit first. This will prevent any electrical mishaps. Colin says it’s also important not to clean the TV immediately after it has been turned off. “Allow it to cool down, as cleaning a hot screen can cause the cleaning solution to evaporate quickly and leave streaks.”

While you wait for the TV to cool down, gather your supplies. 

TV cleaning essentials

01

Whoosh! Screen cleaner kit 

From $45.30, Amazon

There is only one screen cleaner approved for use in Apple stores worldwide, and it’s this: Whoosh! This award-winning product is trusted by the biggest names in tech and the state-of-the-art-formula is free from alcohol, ammonia, dyes and fragrances. This makes it super safe to use on all devices, including your television screen. This set comes with two microfibre cloths that won’t etch your screens or leave smudges behind.

02

Mr Siga premium microfibre cloths for screens

From $18.99, Amazon

For routine TV cleans, all you really need is a good quality microfibre cloth and a touch of distilled water. This bulk set by Mr. Siga has over 2000 rave reviews and can be used for general home cleaning and keeping eye glasses, mirrors and other shiny surfaces clean and streak-free. 

03

Miele Boost CX1 Graphite Grey bagless vacuum cleaner

From $466, Appliances Online

Dust tends to settle in the grill at the back of the TV. A vacuum with a soft dusting brush attachment can help you reach into the crevices to dislodge it. The Miele Boost is a powerful vacuum with a hygiene filter to trap fine dust and allergens. 

04

WD-40 specialist air duster 350g

From $20.99, Automotive Superstore

Dust tends to settle in the grill at the back of the TV. A vacuum with a soft dusting brush attachment can help you reach into the crevices to dislodge it. The Miele Boost is a powerful vacuum with a hygiene filter to trap fine dust and allergens. 

How to clean a TV screen

  1. Colin recommends starting with a can of compressed air to lift and remove dust caught between the screen and its frame. “Hold the can upright and avoid spraying too close to the screen to prevent any liquid from coming out,” he says. 
  2. Dampen the microfibre cloth with the cleaning solution or distilled water (you can use plain tap water but it may leave behind some mineral deposits) and wipe the screen in gentle circular motions from top to bottom. “Do not spray the cleaning solution directly on the unit, instead spray it on the microfibre cloth,” says Colin. Spraying cleaning solution directly on a screen could damage the screen or strip away the screen’s protective coating. 
  3. Using a second, dry microfibre cloth, wipe the screen again to remove any remaining moisture or streaks. 
living room iwth built in cabinetry
(Credit: Photography: Simon Whitbread / Styling: Heliconia)

Colin’s shares his top tips for removing fingerprints and smudges from a screen without leaving behind scratches or streaks:

  • “Microfibre cloths are gentle and effective at removing fingerprints and smudges without scratching the screen.”
  • For stubborn smudges: “Mix a 50/50 solution of distilled water and isopropyl alcohol (70% or higher). Dampen a corner of a microfibre cloth with the solution, then gently wipe the screen. Avoid applying excessive pressure.”
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when cleaning your TV. 
3 tips to clean fingerprints and smudges from a TV screen

How to clean the back of a TV

Now that your television screen is clean, what about the back of the unit? We all know that’s where the dust really accumulates.  

What you’ll need:

  • Can of compressed air
  • Microfibre cloth
  • Vacuum cleaner with soft brush attachment 

Method: 

  1. Unplug the television. 
  2. Stand about 30cm back from the rear of the screen. Use the compressed can of air to gently blow dust out of hard-to-reach crevices.
  3. Use a microfibre cloth to wipe away dust. If dust remains, use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment.
  • Using harsh cleaning products: ammonia based cleaners, alcohol or acetone should not be used to clean TV screens as they can damage the protective coating or even cause discolouration. 
  • Using too much cleaning solution: Use liquids sparingly, as you don’t want excess liquid to seep into the TV’s internal components. Too much cleaning product can also result in streaks and a cloudy residue. 
  • Using the incorrect cloth: Some cloths are softer than others. Avoid paper towels, tissues and rough cloths to wipe a screen as they can damage the delicate surface.
Top 3 TV cleaning mistakes to avoid
White and concrete beach house living room with pitched roof and sheer curtains.
(Credit: The Palm Co)

The best way to clean different types of TV screen surfaces

LED and LCD screens

The safest way to clean an LED or LCD screen is with a lint-free microfibre cloth. “This type of cloth is gentle on the screen and won’t scratch it,” says Colin. Liquid solutions must be used sparingly, as there is the potential for the cleaning solution to seep into the edges and damage the TV’s internal components. “If needed, dampen the microfibre cloth slightly with water but do not saturate it.” 

OLED screens

You can follow the same instructions to clean an OLED screen, says Colin. But there is one major difference: “OLED screens are more fragile than LED/LCD screens,” says Colin, “so it’s important to be extra cautious.” Avoid using liquid cleaners where possible and take care not to apply too much pressure to the screen as you wipe it. 

Plasma screens

Plasma screens are coated in glass, so it’s safe to use a microfibre cloth and a small amount of glass cleaner, if necessary. These screens do generate heat, so take time to allow the TV to cool before applying any cleaning solutions. 

Matte screens

A new generation of televisions like Samsung’s The Screen have a unique matte finish that gives the screen a canvas-like appearance when not in use. This type of screen requires special care, says Colin. “Use a specialised screen-cleaning solution designed for electronics. Gently wipe the screen in a vertical or horizontal motion, using light pressure. Avoid applying too much force, as this can damage the matte finish.” 

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