Cleaning a flat-screen TV requires care. If you choose the wrong product to get rid of smears and fingerprints, you could permanently destroy the screen and ruin one of the most expensive gadgets in your home. Modern TV screens are made with thin sheets of glass and are often treated with special coatings that can be scratched by improper cleaning. Protect your investment by cleaning a smeared TV screen with gentle products that are safe for electronics.
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Does the TV Screen Type Matter?
When it comes to cleaning a smudged TV, it generally doesn't matter whether it's plasma, OLED or some other type of screen. The various screen types differ slightly in terms of picture quality and how they're made – but all you really need to know is that they're all delicate enough to warrant careful cleaning.
The only exception involves old cathode-ray tube TVs. If you have a chunky 80s- or 90s-era TV that's still operational, its screen is probably made of a durable glass that can withstand harsher chemicals than a flat screen can.
While you're cleaning a flat-screen TV, wipe down your TV remote with a bleach solution or an all-purpose disinfectant spray. Most of us don't clean our remote controls nearly frequently enough, considering how much they get touched. Make a habit of cleaning the remote any time you clean the TV itself.
Wrong Ways to Clean a TV
Nothing abrasive or corrosive should ever touch your TV screen. Never wipe the screen with paper towels or newspaper, which could either create more smudges or scratch the delicate materials used in your flat-screen TV. Don't use any sort of all-purpose cleaner or disinfectant spray. Also, don't use window or glass cleaner on TV screens; these products are made with ammonia and/or other harsh chemicals that don't belong near electronics.
The only possible exception to the glass cleaner rule is for old CRT TVs. Because these screens are generally made with sturdy glass, this is one time when it's safe to use glass cleaner on TV screens.
How to Clean a TV Screen Without Streaks
The first step when cleaning a flat-screen TV, or any kind of TV, is to unplug it from the power source. Next, dust the screen with a clean microfiber cloth. It's best to use a microfiber cloth made for electronics, which has shorter fibers than other microfiber cloths. Gently wipe the dry cloth over smears and smudges; this may be enough to remove them.
If marks remain, moisten the microfiber cloth with distilled water and wring it out to get it as dry as possible. Wipe at the smears again with the slightly dampened cloth. If this still isn't enough to get the screen clear, you can try moistening the cloth with a very diluted soapy solution using just one or two drops of dish soap in a bowl of warm water.
Alternately, use TV screen wipes designed for electronics to clean a smudged screen. The same type of wipes can be used to clean computer, tablet and phone screens.
Keeping a TV Screen Smudge-Free
Short of enclosing the whole thing in a clear display case, there's no great way to protect your TV screen from future smudges and smears. If you're frequently cleaning marks off the TV screen, pay attention to the way the other members of your household use and touch the TV. If the TV is in a high-traffic area of your home, people could be brushing against the screen without realizing it. Moving the TV slightly might solve the issue.
Or, if your screen is constantly smeared because you have curious little kids at home who like to try to touch the characters in their favorite TV shows, try making a masking tape line on the floor in front of the set. Create a new rule that everyone has to keep their bodies (and their sticky fingers) behind the line.