Televisions are the center of entertainment in most homes, so we tend to take good care of them. However, cleaning the screen is always a head-scratcher as it’s often a coin toss on whether you’ll have streaks across the flat screen or not. What can you do about this universal problem?
To clean a flat screen TV without streaks, you need to avoid using ammonia-based cleaning products and go with distilled water or a 50/50 solution of vinegar and tap water. The cleaning agent should ideally go on a microfiber cloth for the best result.
Using anything you can find to clean your TV screen is a sure way to generate random results. This article will cover everything you need to know about getting a streak-free result every time.
Items You Need to Clean a Flat Screen TV Without Streaks
To ensure you get a crisp looking screen with every cleaning, here are the kits you have to put together:
Just like your PC screens, TV screens are a dust magnet. Going over it with a feather duster reduces the amount of dirt you have to work against when it’s time to clean it. It also reduces the number of times you have to clean (and worry about streaks) a great deal. The duster also gets rid of particles that can get stuck in when cleaning and cause scratches.
The best dusters are black male ostrich feather dusters. Many people agree that they are not just softer but also very good at trapping dust. If that sounds too exotic for you, any other decent dusters can do the job.
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Microfiber cloth is great for cleaning TVs because it’s soft and non-abrasive. It’s also lint-free, which allows it to easily pick up any dust on your screen with a few wipes.
You need to get two pieces of these to use in the cleaning process. One should be damp enough to clean the screen properly, while the completely dry one will work as the shine. Most consumer electronics of today often come with one of these in the box. Check your TV’s packaging, and you’ll probably find one in the box.
The factory-added options are usually small and thin, though, so you should think of getting a few bigger ones the next time you’re at the store or shopping online. These MagicFiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloths are fairly popular. You can find more options here.
When you get these, don’t reuse a dirty one as many people do. Trapped grit or dirt is bad for your TV screen. Dirt buildup also makes the cloth less useful, so it’s important you only use clean ones for every cleaning. Fortunately, these clothes are easy to wash. You can throw them into the washing machine when you’re done cleaning.
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Dry Anti-Static Cleaning Cloth
This is an optional item for your TV-cleaning “toolbox.” You may not need it if you don’t get a lot of dust on your TV screen. They are excellent dust magnets, which means that one sweep over the screen is enough to get rid of dust. You can find these in supermarkets easily as well.
There’s a lot of argument on whether you need a cleaning solution for your TV screen, especially when some of them are just overpriced distilled water. On their part, most TV manufacturers often recommend cleaning with only a dry cloth in user guides. A few of them will recommend using a slightly damp cloth only when necessary.
However, the reality is that your flat TV screen will never truly be streak-free if you don’t use some dampness. In the early days after getting the TV out of the box, you’ll get by with cleaning the screen by just dusting it. As soon as more fingers touch the screen or some bits get blown onto it, the streaks will begin to appear if you only clean it with a dry cloth.
There are lots of TV (and computer) screen cleaning solutions in the market today. You can get any of them that appeal to you as long as they don’t contain acetate, acetone, ammonia, or alcohol. Such cleaning agents will deteriorate the coating in the TV that is useful for reducing screen reflection.
If you’d rather not buy any screen cleaning products off the shelf, you can use a balanced mix of water and vinegar or plain distilled water, as we mentioned above. A container of distilled water is cheap, so you can get a can or two to use for this purpose only.
Remember, you only need to get the micro-fiber cloth damp so you won’t spend much on replenishing the stock — if you buy the distilled water for this purpose alone. If you always have vinegar at home, you can save your pennies.
Method #1: Use Distilled Water or Water and Vinegar Mix
This method involves using distilled water or your water and vinegar mix. Follow the steps below:
- Get your bottle of distilled water or vinegar solution (don’t use plain tap water).
- Grab a spray bottle.
- Get your microfiber cloth. Don’t use paper towels or any paper made from wood because you’ll be left with scratches across the screen.
- Turn off the TV and wait for it to cool. Warm screens are one of the major reasons for streaks across flat screen TVs.
- Fill up the spray bottle with some distilled water, and spray some on the micro-fiber cloth. Don’t spray water directly at the screen, or you’ll have it too wet and increase the chances of streaks. Spray only very little water on the cloth and re-spray if necessary instead of flooding the screen.
- Wipe the screen gently, in a circular motion until it’s clean and dry. Use a dry microfiber cloth to dry off the screen — also maintaining a circular motion. You shouldn’t have any streaks if you do everything correctly.
- Repeat the process if you need to until you’re fully satisfied with the look of your flat screen TV.
Method #2: Use a Cleaning Agent for Flat Screen TVs
This method is for using a cleaning agent designed for flat screen TVs. Follow the steps below:
- Turn off the TV and wait for it to cool down.
- Dust off the screen to eliminate large dust particles to avoid causing scratches when you start cleaning. A can of compressed air can also get the job done.
- Spray the TV screen with the cleaner you’ve purchased, and give it about 30 seconds to sit.
- Use a microfiber cloth or your anti-static cleaning cloth to wipe your screen gently in a circular motion. Wait for the screen to dry.
- If streaks form, get rid of them by using a mix of vinegar and water. Some people also use a solution of isopropyl alcohol at this stage. Make your microfiber cloth damp with the solution.
- Rub the cloth lightly over the streaks on the screen to get rid of them. You should consider using a stronger concentration of isopropyl alcohol and vinegar for stubborn streaks.
- If you use isopropyl alcohol at any stage of this process, you have to ensure there’s no alcohol residue on the surface of the screen. Wipe it off properly, or you risk damaging the screen if it’s allowed to stay for long on the screen. This is why most people avoid using any kind of alcohol in the first place.
Why Is Tap Water Bad for Cleaning a Flat Screen TV?
Tap water can work well for cleaning your flat screen TV, but it has a few disadvantages. It is known to leave streaks and will not provide some anti-static protection for your screen. Other mixtures we’ve recommended thus far or distilled water will give your screen some anti-static properties, which means that it will be harder for dust and fiber to gather on the screen after you’ve cleaned it.
Top Tips to Remember When Cleaning Your Flat Screen TV
Harsh Chemicals Will Damage Your TV Screen and Void Warranties
We’ve mentioned above how chemical products are bad for a flat TV screen. This means you shouldn’t use standard window cleaners with ammonia and alcohol in them. The chemicals will ruin your TV screen’s protective layer. Window cleaners worked in the past for old TVs, but they are bad for flat screen TVs.
When the screen is damaged due to using such cleaning agents, most manufacturers will not honor the warranty agreement. Stick with distilled water or a vinegar solution as the main cleaning agent. If you need to use isopropyl alcohol, as we covered in the second method above, use it sparingly and make sure you don’t leave any residue.
Don’t Clean While the TV Screen Is Working
Just as water evaporates from your car windscreen on a sunny day, cleaning your TV screen with a damp cloth while it’s working will cause evaporation and ultimately leave lots of streaks. You should clean your screen when the TV has cooled down.
You need to allow at least half an hour after turning it off for most flat screen TVs to cool down properly. Also, cleaning the TV while on means you may get distracted and lose track of where you’re at with the cleaning process. If you wait too long to dry the screen or get distracted into breaking from the circular cleaning motion, you’ll be left with streaks on your screen.
Don’t Use Too Much Liquid
Whether you’re using some distilled water or a cleaning agent, it’s a bad idea to use too much liquid when cleaning your TV screen. Apart from the fact that it will almost always lead to some streaking, excessive moisture can seep into parts of the TV and cause damage.
Buff When Necessary
If you still have some streak after your best efforts, you should use your dry microfiber cloth to gently polish it out. Be careful not to apply too much force on the screen at this stage. Pressing too hard on the screen can damage the set. If the streak has settled in too deeply and can’t be removed with gentle buffing, repeat the cleaning process.
Use Petroleum Jelly on Scratches
If you find some scratch on your TV screen while cleaning, you can solve the problem using scratch removal kits sold at stores. However, petroleum jelly can achieve the same thing. Apply a little bit of it to the area and rub it in gently. Clean off any excess jelly. Leaving the scratches unattended can lead to caked dirt around the area.
Using jelly works as well as the scratch removal kits because the latter doesn’t actually remove the scratch. They work by covering up the dent and diffusing light, thus making the scratch harder to notice. If the scratch can ruin the viewing experience, check to see if your warranty covers this scenario and consider going for a replacement.
Clean the TV Remote
A lot of the grime that gets on your TV screen comes from grabbing the grimy TV remote and touching the TV screen with the same fingers (or palms in the case of children). There’s also the little matter of the millions of bacteria that grow on the remote. This is why you should wipe down the remote as you’re cleaning the TV screen.
To clean the remote, follow these steps:
- Start by removing the batteries.
- Turn the remote upside down to ensure the buttons are facing downwards.
- Tap its back, or lightly tap the remote on a piece of cloth placed on your sofa to dislodge any dirt.
- Wipe the remote with the same cleaning mix you’ve used for your TV screen, ensuring that the cloth is damp and not soaking wet.
If you need to get into the space between buttons better, a cotton swab dampened with the water mix will work. For caked dirt, use a toothpick or a dry toothbrush. With the debris removed, wipe the remote down again with a dry microfiber cloth and put back your batteries.
Cleaning your flat TV screen without streaks is often as simple as using the right cleaning cloth and cleaning agent. Avoid using window cleaners or any other harsh mixtures, and use distilled water or a vinegar solution for the best results. Don’t forget to gently clean your TV and don’t get it too wet to avoid causing damage to the screen.