How to Clean an LCD Screen

The “L” in LCD stands for “liquid,” and what holds this liquid in is not a glass plate like you remember having on your big, heavy CRT or television. It’s soft plastic, and you’ve got to treat it very delicately.

So, first of all, let’s decide what we don’t use to clean it:

  • Anything containing bleach or ammonia, such as Windex. That will react with the plastic and make the plastic screen become cloudy and discolored.
  • Anything sharp, pointy or abrasive.

Your easiest choice is one of those LCD cleaning solutions they sell in places where they sell computers. But they’re expensive, and why bother when you can make your own solution for next to nothing?

What you’ll need:

  • Distilled water (available at your supermarket; tap water leaves streaks and minerals).
  • White vinegar (you may substitute isopropyl alcohol; either way, make sure these substances are diluted before they come near your screen).
  • A clean, soft cloth (never use any kind of paper product).
  • A spray bottle.

Directions:

  1. In the spray bottle, mix the distilled water and alcohol/vinegar, in a 1:1 ratio.
  2. Turn off the LCD display.
  3. Spray the mixture onto the cloth, never directly onto the screen.
  4. Wipe gently – oh, so gently – from top to bottom. Do it horizontally, too, if you think that leaves a cleaner result.
  5. Let the screen dry before turning it back on.

Hands Off!

Fingers leave dirt and oil smudges that must be cleaned off. Also, every time you touch the screen you risk doing damage to those tiny creatures inside that hold the colored flashlights. Keep your fingers to yourself.

Comments

  1. Robin says:

    I buy a product for cleaning sunglasses called Viva; I’ve used it for several years and it works great. For dusting the screen, I’ve used the anti-static anti-cling sheets you would otherwise use in a dryer. They also do well with no ill effects.

  2. me says:

    I use dryer sheets as well. Yay for recycling! I also use a cloth that is used to clean my eyeglasses.

  3. Ron says:

    I’ve used “Glass Plus” on my laptop and my 19″ LCD for about four years now. I also use the brown paper towels that are on a roll; they are used in the dispensers in bathrooms. I get the end of the roll before it is discarded.

  4. BS says:

    I work in a lab and use 95% ethanol and ChemWipes (paper-based) to clean my laptop screen all the time. Works fine and still looks great.

  5. Tadej says:

    Sorry all, but I have one related question rater than a tip. I am interested in advice on how to clean the “solid” stuff from the LCD screen. You see, it’s that during all these years, there were many “little dots” of such stuff (like small coagulated pieces of coffee etc.) that I accidentally spilled or whatever, and now they’re spreading all over my screen.

    Best regards and thanks for any reply in advance!!

  6. Dan in Buffalo says:

    I use terry cloth dust cloths that are like magnets for dust and dirt. They are reusable and environmentally smart. I have seen them in stores, but bought mine from a catalog. You can’t go wrong.

  7. Tony says:

    I apologize for not having a tip, rather I do have a question. I had a LCD TV which used to look all nice and perfect. All of the sudden a big yellow stain appeared on it. I came to find out that my mother came to visit, she decided to help out with the cleaning and she applied Windex to my TV. Ever since, we haven’t been able to remove this stain. Does someone know if there is a way to remove this stain? Or am I stuck with it forever?

    Thank you kindly,
    Tony

  8. DF says:

    Someone at Target told me that a little drop of Dawn dish soap and water works great. I’ve been cleaning my LCD TV that way for a while now and it looks and works great.

  9. Jerry says:

    I’m got a problem that few, if any, others will have encountered: in a modern museum setting, we have several large LCD monitors that are routinely exposed to small quantities of water mist (from a simulated flash flood exhibit). During design, the quantities of water were deemed insignificant, but over time we’ve found the build-up of mineral deposits (“hard water stains”) in the form of droplets on the screens has become a problem. Does anyone have any suggestions? I’m reluctant to try any of the acidic, off-the-shelf hard water stain removers that you might use in your shower, but I’m open to any suggestions.

  10. Charles says:

    No, absolutely WRONG. NEVER use vinegar to clean LCD screens, it will cause the plastic surface to yellow.

    Manufacturers like Apple recommend cleaning with a soft cloth and a solution of water and no more than 50% isopropyl alcohol. I personally clean my screen with a microfiber cloth and water. Microfiber cloths are commonly sold as eyeglass cleaners, it is designed to wipe up dust and dirt. With the right cloth, you only need water.

  11. Pete says:

    I’ve used Windex or generic glass cleaner to clean LCD screens for years and have NEVER had an issue.

  12. Forone says:

    Jerry: Monster LCD cleaner is not cheap, but is safe and works great.

  13. Palau says:

    I use a clean, slightly damp chamois leather. Works like a treat with no chemicals required.

  14. Hungdukie says:

    I recently purchased a wide-screen LCD TV and was concerned about what to clean the screen with. I spent hours Googling the topic and here is a synopsis of what I found:
    Use a 1:1 mix of 95% or better isopropyl alcohol and distilled water or just distilled water (tap water has minerals that can scratch the glass).

    Spray the mixture onto a: chamois/microfiber/100% cotton lint-free cloth

    Unless you actually want to scratch or damage your expensive equipment:

    NEVER use paper towels, toilet paper, etc. (they can scratch).
    NEVER use any product containing ammonia (it can damage the coating).
    NEVER use vinegar (it can break down the coating and turn the surface yellow).
    Hope this helps someone.

  15. Bill C. says:

    Another pretty good product to clean LCD screens with is a product called Clearview. It is an isopropyl alcohol based product which contains no ammonia. I tried it on my 40 inch LCD TV and it did a nice job on the screen.

  16. Shop girl says:

    Vinegar is not good for your LCD. I buy these little wipes at Wal-Mart in the electronics section. It is an alcohol solution in an individually wrapped packet. They work well and you get like 20 or 30 for $1.97 best of all they are good to leave in your laptop bag for on the go cleaning since they are individually packaged.

  17. Ange says:

    How do I get a splash of emulsion paint off my LCD? Please, any advice?

  18. Col says:

    RE: How do I get a splash of emulsion paint off my LCD?

    If it’s a small ‘spot’ of paint, like me you can take a sharp knife and ‘scrape’ the paint off using a very delicate amount of pressure and a lot of care.

    If its a larger amount of paint, you may have to buy a new LCD as removing a large amount of dried paint physically will damage the screen, and chemicals that dissolve the paint will probably melt everything, including the screen.

    Good luck.

  19. Mark says:

    I was carrying my 32″ TV down to the basement and slipped on the stairs. The TV dragged across the white stair rail and left 2 large white paint marks on the LCD screen. I found your tip, tried the vinegar (it worked somewhat). I then tried the alcohol, in the mixture you stated. The alcohol worked great and left no marks whatsoever. You could never tell it happened. Thank you very much!!!

  20. Mike says:

    First, wipe with a damp cloth that has just a drop of Dawn on it, follow with a cloth with very little isopropyl alcohol (gets any fingerprints and smudges real good), and then follow with a dampened cloth of just water. Cloths I used were just cotton pillowcases.

  21. Mary says:

    I was able to clean my TV. I finally took it apart (literally). The whole screen, I separated the two plastics & just wiped and used a blow-dryer to dry the damp. It worked; the TV looks like nothing ever happened.

  22. Jennifer says:

    Well, I’ve read every comment on here; some say don’t use vinegar or microfiber cloths, then some say DO. Well, I use the microfiber on my TV for around 2 years now and my TV is FINE! So what’s the deal? I really don’t understand why one thing says do this and the other says something different, which is RIGHT?

  23. Brad says:

    Why is there all this confusion???? I’ve been using wipes sold at Walmart that are specifically made to clean LCD screens and they’ve always worked great!!!

    God, just spend a couple bucks for these. A lot of stores sell LCD wipes. I don’t understand why anyone would claim they damage your screen as they do not!! However-for badly spotted screens (made by soft drinks, etc), one might want to use something a bit more major. But for general cleaning, use the wipes.

    (Btw, small amounts of soft drink spots can be gotten rid of using the wipes.)

  24. Melinda says:

    I used Windex to clean my TV screen. Now it has swirls all over it and it’s hard to watch; is there anything I can do for that?

  25. Chris J.! says:

    I’ve heard that ice can help take gum off. Not entirely sure though.

  26. Steve says:

    I don’t recommend Monster cleaner like someone did; that stuff streaks to all heck and takes forever to come out. I made the mistake of using a damp paper cloth and though luckily, I haven’t scratched the TV screen at all, it left a little bit of white – what I’m assuming are paper towel bits – embedded into my screen. I’ve tried washing them out gently and rubbing them out and whatnot, but they just aren’t coming off. Any suggestions?

  27. Steve says:

    Jennifer,

    First, sorry for the spelling; I am dyslexic.

    “Some say don’t…some say do.” “I really don’t understand why one thing says do this and the other says something different; which is RIGHT?”

    This is often the case with the internet and open forums like this. You have to remember that by posting or reading a forum like this, you are posting and reading to/from all who are doing the same thing. Not everyone who posts an answer will be an expert. So the one that is “RIGHT” is the one you think is “RIGHT” and that’s the problem; you have to have know the answer to know which one is “RIGHT,” otherwise it’s take your pick and hope the one you pick is OK. But I would always go with some form of logic and ask:

    What is in most commercial cleaning LCD products? Answer: “NOT vinegar.” So most problems on the posts saying, “NOT vinegar,” are right. That said, if the screen is glass, then vinegar is good.

    As for the “microfiber cloths,” I don’t think any post says not to use them. Basically, you don’t want dust, tears or scratches.

    Hope this helps.

  28. Gary says:

    I don’t recommend Monster because they have a history of ripping off unaware consumers.

  29. Adrian says:

    Nicely put Steve.

    I did have to buy a General Electric LCD cleaner that came with a liquid solution and just applied the spray onto a special fiber that the cleaner had, and just wiped my 24″ LCD screen with circular motions all around the monitor. It looks just as if it were new, not even when sunlight hit the monitor did I ever see a stain or anything like it.
    I would also personally recommend to all the people here to buy a anti-static vinyl cover for your monitor, whenever it’s not in use.

  30. Judi says:

    I just used Windex, sprayed on a paper towel, and now have swirls and smears on my screen. Is it okay to use the LCD wipes (i.e., will it resolve the problem)?

  31. Celsius says:

    I just saw a video regarding this topic on YouTube. The person in the video advises isopropyl alcohol (90%) + distilled water (10%) mixture coupled with a sprayer and a cleaning cloth that is used for cleaning camera lenses.

  32. Zavi says:

    I tried monster cleaner and it made a mess, taking three months to get the streaking mess off my TV. Windex doesn’t work; the best bet is distilled water and a microfiber towel. Monster is a rip-off big time, they changed it so it is no longer a good product.

  33. Tony says:

    Use a small bowl and put a drop of Dawn in it. Add warm water to create foam. Then, dip your microfiber cloth or what you use to clean your screen. Gently wipe, then take another damp rag to rinse it with just plain water, and dry. You have a clean screen. This is what Sony told me to do and it works. I have had no issues in three years of using this method.

  34. Rebecca says:

    I just sprayed antibacterial Pledge on my Sanyo LCD to dust it and the color in my tv is basically all green. I didn’t know there was a certain way to clean these TVs. Will the color go back to normal? What do I do?

  35. Sony says:

    I used a Magic Eraser, no solution. I just scrubbed gently and the fingerprints and dust came off.

  36. Missy says:

    I have a camera with a LCD display and it has scuff marks. What can I use to remove it?

  37. Peter says:

    Vinegar is an acid!! How can the internet be full of dumb people telling others to do this. If you clean your screens with vinegar, even if you dilute it, you will damage it in the long run. If you don’t have a product made for it, just use water.

  38. Syeef says:

    I agree with the article; “White vinegar” is the way to go… have you ever read a LCD/LED manual? They recommend it too.

  39. Luis says:

    Take a clean bowl. Put some vinegar in it. Add a touch, I mean one single drop, of regular Dawn in it. Use a good paper towel (not the scratchy brown ones) and use it on LCD. This will clean and smudges, dirt and most particles. Might have to give it a few wipes. Always dry ASAP after you use this method other wise it leave some streaks. As long as you clean and dry ASAP it will get your screen crystal clear.

  40. Joshua says:

    My LCD screen got a scratch (plastic damage). Is it replaceable?

  41. Melanie says:

    Joshua,
    Yes, LCD screens for computers or TVs are usually replaceable. There are also some easy methods you can use to try to fix the scratch yourself, such as with a pencil eraser, Vasaline, or a scratch repair kit.
    Source: Wikihow – How to Fix a Scratch on an LCD Screen

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