How to Clean a Computer Screen

by JoHarrington

PC monitors are expensive items. You do not want to be squirting household cleaning products all over them.

I was whining about the state of my friend's dirty PC screen. It's difficult to play Risk, when you have a stain taking out half of Bolivia.

In response, he grabbed a bottle of Mr Muscle; and my eyebrows disappeared into my hair-line.

Computer monitors get as dusty as every other surface in your home. But there are right and wrong ways to shift that grime. If you don't want to damage anything, let me walk you through safely cleaning your PC screen.

Why Can't You Use Just Any Old Cleaner on Your PC?

You risk damaging LCD screens and/or getting liquid inside the electronics.

Household cleaners are designed to destroy everything from coffee stains to mildew. They contain strong chemicals just for this purpose.

That's all well and good when you're attacking the kitchen sink, but not when you're faced with the protective coating on LCD screens. 

Anything with acetone, ammonia or alcohol will strip away the veneer on your monitor, making you long wistfully for the days when it was merely dusty.

The upshot will inevitably be you buying a brand new computer monitor. 

There are also secondary issues, involving harmful chemicals and static electricity.  In a worst case scenario, your bathroom cleaner will seep into the electronics itself.  Then the best you can hope for is the entire computer dying.

Naturally I have gone for the extreme possibilities here. It's likely that nothing at all will happen the first few times (unless you're really unlucky). But ruining the protective coating is guaranteed.

It's much better all round to explore the safe and effective ways to remove the grime from your computer monitor.

In all of these methods, it's better to use them when the screen is turned off. That way you're not cleaning through the static too.

Using LCD Screen Cleaning Wipes

Perhaps the quickest and easiest way to keep the dust from your monitor is to invest in some pop-up screen cleaners. 

Any who has ever used something like Baby Wet-Ones will be familiar with this idea.

The screen wipes come in a plastic bottle or pack. They are all moist and permeated in screen cleaner. You pull the top one free, close the packet and wipe down the screen.

Dust and grime are absorbed into the wipe and your monitor sparkles at the end. Then you simply discard the wipe.

I've used these.  I think just about everybody has, who's been around computers long enough. In fact, a brief exploration of my PC accessories box has turned up a packet right at the bottom.

In their favor, they are very convenient and they do the job. Depending on the size of the pack, they are also easily shoved into a laptop case to be used on the move.

But the reason that my packet is dried and half-forgotten is that I didn't like the streaks they left.

My screen would be beautifully clean within seconds, but then I'd spend the next two minutes trying to wipe away the residual cleaner.

If you are going for this option, research the comments of each product to find non-streaky PC wipes. It'll save you a lot of effort later on.

Buy PC Screen Wipes

ScreenKleen Alcohol-Free Wet Wipes, Cloth, 5 x 5, 40/box

REARR1391 Features: -Pre-Consumer Recycled Content Percent : 0 pct.-Width : 5 in.-EPA Registered: No.-Application: Laptop, PDAS, Screens.-Global Product Type: Towels & Wipes-Wet...

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Endust for Electronics LCD & Plasma Pop Up Wipes 70 CT 11506

Endust for Electronics LCD & Plasma 70 Count Pop up, pre moistened, anti static and non streak wipe. Instant cleaning power in one easy step. Soft, non-abrasive alcohol and ammo...

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Notebook Screen Cleaning WIPES24 Wipes

Notebook screen cleaning wipes removes dust, fingerprints, and smudges from notebook computer screens. Non-abrasive, non-streaking. 4" x 7" pre-moistened portable wipes, 24 indi...

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Zeiss Pre-Moistened Lens Cloths Wipes 200 Ct

Zeiss Lens Cleaning Cloths provide the best way to preserve the integrity of your valuable optics. Whether it is your eyeglass, or your expensive sport optic, these pre-moistene...

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Dusting your Computer Screen Without Leaving Streaks

Doing it without cleaner at all is the main method, but that isn't always feasible.

When you clean your PC screen, the temptation is to zoom the wipe or cloth straight across. This is incorrect.

Tiny circles is the way forward. Go around and around on the same spot, then move onto the next one.

Be gentle. There are electronics behind that screen which could be damaged with vigorous rubbing.

This concentrates the cleaning, but more to the point, it reduces streaking. You aren't dragging the cleaning solution too far in each wipe.

Of course, that's assuming that there is any LCD cleaner to take anywhere.  In screen wipes, there always will be. In the picture above, there was not.

If your screen is merely dusty, then it's better to knock that off with a cloth.  Cleaner only comes into play, when the grime is a bit deeper.  This is another reason why screen wipes fell out of favor with me.

Choosing the Best Cloth for Cleaning your Computer Screen

I've just used both of these cloths. The yellow on my desk and the blue on an LCD computer screen. This is the result.
Image: Normal duster versus microfiber cloth.
Image: Normal duster versus microfiber cloth.
Jo Harrington

The yellow dusting cloth is what would be used to polish your desk. Look at how the dust sits on its surface. This is great for just shaking out and reusing.

It's not great when you might be encountering static electricity on your screen. It could well leave the dust right there, not to mention bits of fiber too.

This is where we turn our attention to a proper LCD microfiber cloth. This grips the dust and holds it inside. It is by far the better option for your screen.

If the microfiber cloth isn't too dusty, then it can be whacked to release the grime. If not, then I just shove it in the laundry.  I've used this one for years with no hassle.  It lasts a lot longer than the normal dusting cloth too!

Buy Microfiber LCD Cleaning Cloths

I honestly don't know why some of these are in multi-packs. I've used the same one for years! It's the first in this selection by Cables Unlimited.

When to Use Computer Screen Cleaner

Personally I've found that just running a microfiber cloth occasionally over the screen does the job. But there will be times when more is required.

The rule of thumb is simple. If a dry cloth didn't remove the stain, then reach for the cleaner. But again, make it the right cleaner!  Nothing with chemicals that will harm your screen's protective coating; and nothing that will run.

How to Use Computer Screen Cleaner

Less is more with this product!  If you use too much, then it'll streak. It will also take you forever to get it all off again. Yes, I do speak from bitter experience here.

I use a spray cleaner made by Monster. I squirt it just once, onto the cloth itself. That's plenty.

This bottle will also last you for ages, because it's hardly ever used. Five people have access to my little screen-clean spray. It's been in the house for four or five years and it's nearly full.

But we all have clean computer screens.

Buy Monster Screen Clean

It's the one that I use.

How to Clean an LCD Television or Plasma TV

This advertizement for Screen Drx is meant for television screens, but demonstrates the same issues as for computer LCD screens.

Buy LCD Screen Cleaner

This should only be used (gently!) on stubborn marks. Otherwise wiping down with the cloth is preferable.

The Vinegar and Water Method of Cleaning Computer Monitors

One of your home's best cleaning solutions is actually your vinegar!

I should say straight away that I've never used this method, but I have some trusted friends who do.  It's certainly cheaper than buying a screen cleaner, but my little Monster bottle has lasted so long that I've not had to go there.

Never, ever spray water or undiluted vinegar onto your screen.  

This method involves mixing 25% vinegar with 75% water. Then applying a small amount onto a microfiber cloth. This should leave the cloth barely damp. If you can wring it out, that's too much. if it causes the solution to drip, that's too much.

Then continue as above with that cloth, using circular motions on your LCD screen. Remember to dry it off afterwards with a portion of the cloth which is still dry.

Now enjoy your clean monitor!

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Updated: on 03/09/2014, JoHarrington
 
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JoHarrington on 06/29/2012

That's what I'd do; and you're welcome. <3

Jasmine on 06/29/2012

Thanks for the tip! I think the best thing would be to buy products which are intended for cleaning LCD screens.

JoHarrington on 06/29/2012

Ah! In that case treat it like it's an LCD. Vinegar is unfortunately out.

Jasmine on 06/29/2012

Yes, it has a scratch-resistant coat. I have Asus (Altec lansing) laptop, A53S series.

JoHarrington on 06/29/2012

Has it got a coating on it?

Jasmine on 06/29/2012

No, it's not a Mac - you'll rarely find someone in Europe who uses it. The surface is similar to glass.

JoHarrington on 06/29/2012

If it's a flat screen it's likely LCD, unless it's a Mac.

Jasmine on 06/28/2012

To be honest, I don't know, but after reading this article, I'll be sure to check it out!

JoHarrington on 06/28/2012

It depends upon what screen you have and what the eyeglass wipes are moistened with.

Glad to have been of help.

Jasmine on 06/28/2012

I usually use my husband's moistened eyeglass wipes, but they're not really the best choice. Great tips - I'll make sure to use them :)




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