Whether you’re talking about your old laptop screen or that brand new OLED TV you just bought, they’re all going to get dusty and dirty over time. You may be hesitant to basically clean the screens in your home, and the fact that there are so many products out there claiming to do it best doesn’t help. But we’ve found that the best route is actually the simplest. If you’re looking to refresh all the screens in your home, we’ll outline the best methods to help you do it right without damaging any of your equipment.

how no to clean your screens

Igor's desktop

Photo by Igor Bonifacic / Engadget

Before we get to how to clean a screen, there are a few ways do not you want to continue the process. First and foremost, you don’t want to clean a display with substances like isopropyl alcohol or Windex. Alcohol and ammonia-based cleaners can damage your screen’s anti-reflective coating. Repeated use of these substances can lead to clouding and unevenness of the coating.

Companies like Phew! make cleaners that won’t damage your screen, but in my experience it’s best to use distilled water. It’s more affordable than a specialty cleaner, and it’s also more versatile because you can use it on a variety of surfaces. It also won’t leave any residue on your display, which is something I’ve seen products like Whoosh do from time to time. You can buy distilled water at a grocery store or do it yourself with some simple cookware.

As a last resort, you can use tap water, but we don’t recommend it. Depending on the water hardness in your area and how your municipality treats it, there may be minerals and chemicals that will again leave a residue or, worse, damage your display’s finish.

Once you have some distilled water, you’ll want a separate spray bottle. One option is to reuse one you already have at home, but if you don’t have a spare, Muji makes these handy travel bottles in 100 ml, 50 ml and 30 ml sizes that are perfect for the task, and you can find similar bottles at Amazon.

Next, be mindful of what you use to wipe your screen. You want to avoid using paper towels, dish rags, and anything else that may have an abrasive surface that will damage your screen’s finish. You can use the sleeve of an old but clean T-shirt. However, you will get the best results by using microfiber towels. This is because the fabric they are made of is extremely soft and attracts dust well. We suggest buying a pack of them so you always have a clean one on hand. The last thing you want to do is use a dirty one and get dirt and grime onto your display.

Finally, avoid splashing liquid directly on the display. You’ll have much more control if you put it on your microfiber cloth, and it’s much easier to avoid getting some of it on the more sensitive parts of the display.

How to clean your screens

Igor's monitorIgor's monitor

Photo by Igor Bonifacic / Engadget

All that aside, the actual process of cleaning a display is easy. If you are dealing with only a little dust, use a can of compressed air or air blower to replace it. You can also turn to a dry microfiber cloth.

For more than that, dampen your microfiber cloth with a small amount of distilled water and then gently wipe the display. After going over the entire surface, turn the towel over and use the dry side to remove excess water. Avoid polishing the screen or using excessive pressure at this stage. You don’t want to get particles into the surface of the screen.

That’s it. You should now have a clean display. Obviously, cleaning a larger screen will take longer, but you can use the tips mentioned for all types of displays, including TVs, monitors, and smartphone glass displays.