Written by Lisa Truesdale. Reviewed by cleaning expert Sean Busch.
A nice television is the focal point of many a living room, rec room, or man cave. It's where the kids watch their favorite shows to unwind after school, where you catch up on the day's news after dinner, and where you all cheer on the home team if you don't have tickets for the game.
You searched long and hard for the right TV to fit your family’s needs, and your investment likely cost you some serious coin. However, as advanced as modern television screens are, they’re also a bit fragile -- so why risk ruining yours by cleaning it the wrong way?
What Should I NOT Use to Clean My TV Screen?
Sony, Samsung, LG, Vizio, Toshiba, Panasonic... no matter which brand your television is, you should first refer to the owner’s manual that came with it. If the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions specifically say not to use ANY type of liquid on the screen, then you’ll want to follow their advice. This is especially true if your warranty is still in effect because doing so could void your warranty.
Most television screens can be cleaned with just a clean, dry microfiber cloth, advises Sean Busch, Puracy’s co-founder and resident cleaning expert. If your screen is extra dirty and needs a little help from a liquid cleaner (and your owner’s manual doesn’t advise against it), you’ll want to choose a product like Puracy Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner that doesn’t contain ammonia or acetone. Sean says those chemicals can scratch the screen or peel away the delicate coating on the surface. He also advises against home remedies like vinegar, rubbing alcohol, or baby wipes for the same reason (baby wipes can also leave residue, fibers, and streaks behind when cleaning).
Is It Okay to Use Windex to Clean My Television?
Windex and many other window cleaners on the market contain ammonia. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “ammonia can be a hazard to human health.” Ammonia and other harsh chemicals can also eventually "eat away" at a modern TV screen's coating. For this reason, it's not okay to use Windex to clean your television, unless you have an older-style CRT TV. (And even then, make sure you spray the cloth, not the screen.)
None of our products here at Puracy contain ammonia, and they never will. Instead, Puracy Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner is formulated with plant-based ingredients that are effective on grease and grime without the need for harmful chemicals. It’s also safe to use on any type of television screen, so we recommend using it instead of Windex.
Should I Buy a Specialty TV Screen Cleaner? If Not, Then What Should I Clean My TV Screen With?
Save your money, Sean says. Most specialty TV cleaners are expensive, and most television screens can be cleaned with just a clean, dry microfiber cloth. If you do need help from a liquid cleaner, read the label to make sure it doesn’t contain ammonia or acetone. Just one small spray on a microfiber cloth of a plant-based formula like Puracy Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner will do the trick.
The Best Way to Clean a TV Screen in Just a Few Easy Steps
Here are Sean’s step-by-step directions for cleaning your TV screen, with or without the help of a cleaner. These instructions are identical for any type of TV screen, ranging from old-style CRT screens to newer varieties like LCD, LED, plasma, and OLED screens.
Important: If your TV screen is not mounted on the wall, keep it from tipping by holding it securely with one hand while cleaning with the other.
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Step #1 -- Turn off the television or, ideally, turn it off AND unplug it. If it’s not mounted to the wall, or if it’s on a mount that can swivel, then turn it towards a light source, such as a window. This way, you’ll be able to see the fingerprints and other smudges clearly. (You know that screen glare that interferes with the action on the screen when you’re trying to watch a movie? When it comes to cleaning your TV screen, that glare actually comes in handy.)
Step #2 -- With a clean, dry, folded microfiber cloth, wipe the screen, starting at the top and using tight, overlapping “Z” strokes all the way to the bottom. Don’t press too hard; as noted above, TV screens are fragile.
Step #3 -- View the screen at different angles to make sure there are no remaining streaks or smudges. If the screen is completely smudge-free, you’re done with the screen. See below for tips on cleaning the back of the TV and the remote.
If stubborn fingerprints or other marks still remain, continue with steps 4-7 below.
Step #4 -- Spray a clean, folded microfiber cloth with one spray of Puracy Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner. If you don’t have any on hand, you can use one spray of water. Wipe the TV screen with the cloth, starting at the top and using tight, overlapping “Z” strokes all the way to the bottom.
Sean’s tip: “Do you notice streaks on your screen after cleaning? It’s possible that you used too much solution, or your microfiber towel could be dirty. Grab a clean, dry microfiber cloth and try again.
“If using water, make sure you use filtered or distilled water to avoid depositing mineral residue onto the screen, especially if you live in an area where the water is considered to be hard. Not sure if your water is hard? Check out our article How to Remove Hard Water Stains Quickly & Easily; you’ll find a map of hard-water areas across the country, plus special cleaning-day suggestions for fixtures and surfaces marred by unsightly hard-water stains.”
Step #5 -- Turn the folded microfiber cloth to the dry side and make another pass, again starting at the top and using tight, overlapping “Z” strokes. This step will buff away any lint or residues remaining on the screen.
Step #6 -- View the screen at different angles to make sure there are no remaining streaks or smudges. If any spots remain, repeat step 5.
Step #7 -- To avoid electrical damage or electrical shocks, make sure the screen is completely dry before turning your television back on.
Don’t Forget to Clean the Back of Your TV (and the Remote)
Cleaning the back of the television is simple. Just dust it with a clean, dry microfiber cloth, paying special attention to any vents that may be clogged with dust. If necessary, spray your microfiber towel with one spray of water.
It’s important to clean the remote, too. Think about it: How many dirty, popcorn-greased hands touch it during your last family movie night? Follow these easy steps:
Step #1 -- Remove the batteries.
Step #2 -- Hold the remote over a trash can. Turn it over so the buttons are facing down. Tap the remote against your hand; this will help dislodge any crumbs, dust, or other debris hanging out between the buttons, and they’ll fall right into the garbage. Any crumbs or crud still remaining can be carefully pried out with a wooden toothpick. You can also use a cotton swab dampened with water.
Step #3 -- Spray a clean microfiber cloth with one spray of Puracy Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner. Wipe the entire remote with the cloth.
Step #4 -- Dry the entire remote using a separate dry microfiber cloth.
Step #5 -- Reinstall the batteries once the remote is completely dry.
Is There a Special Way to Clean a 4k or Flat-Screen TV?
4k, also called 4k UHD (ultra high-definition), is not actually a type of TV screen like those discussed above. 4k refers to the screen’s resolution --the number of individual pixels that make up the picture on the screen. LCD, LED, and OLED televisions are available in 4k (and even 8k), but CRT and plasma televisions are not.
“Flat screen” is a general term that simply refers to the shape of the screen (as opposed to a curved old-style CRT television screen), not to the specific type of screen technology.
When cleaning your TV, it doesn’t matter what type of screen technology you have. You can clean all of them using the same techniques outlined above.
Armed with these helpful instructions, as well as Puracy Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner and our new microfiber cloth (coming soon -- available late 2019), your television will be completely clean and your remote free of germs and gunk. You can now return to your regularly scheduled programming.