Avoid TV Damage: The Correct Way to Clean Smart Screens

There’s a right way and a wrong way to clean your smart TV screen. But it turns out most of us make it a lot more complicated than it needs to be, and damage our televisions in the process.

It turns out that you don’t need a lot of special chemicals to do a good job.

In this article, I’m going to show you what I use to clean my Samsung Smart TV’s and my Sony Android TV. If you have an older plasma TV, the process I’ll show you will work great on that as well.

But first, we’re going to talk about what you should and shouldn’t use to clean your smart TV screen.

How to clean smart TV screen: microfiber cloths and screen cleaner

Never Use Household Cleaners on Your Smart TV!

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been using common household cleaners like Windex on your LCD TV screens.

That’s actually damaging your TV!

Most household cleaners, including Windex, contain alcohol or ammonia. They’re great for cleaning spills off your ceramic floors, but those harsh chemicals such can damage to your TV screen over time.

That’s the key takeaway. The damage won’t be apparent immediately. Just because you’ve used these cleaners in the past doesn’t mean that your TV is immune to the damage.

Ammonia and alcohol cleaners will gradually eat away at the screen’s surface and eventually wear down the screen’s finish.

Smart TV’s aren’t cheap, and you’ve probably spent a lot of money to get the best picture possible. You don’t want to accidentally damage it by using harsh chemicals! 

What to Use to Clean Your TV Screen

Cleaning your smart TV screen is easy, but it takes the right tools to do it.

The paper towels, rags, sponges, and brushes that you normally use to clean things in your home simply aren’t practical for TV screens. They would do more harm than good. 

Microfiber Cloths

Before you get started, make sure you have a clean, microfiber cloth ready. Paper towels, washcloths, and even coffee filters can contain tiny elements of rough wood or fibers that can damage your screen or leave behind minor scratches.  

Depending on how dirty my TV screen is, there are two different microfiber cloths that I use.

For general use, I use a plush microfiber cloth with a high GSM (Grams Per square Meter) of 400 or higher. More often than not, all your smart TV needs is a good dusting to get it looking great again. You want a microfiber cloth with a high GSM because it’s better at picking up dust and other airborne particles.

High GSM microfiber cloth

You can use the same type of microfiber cloth that you use to buff your car, or polish a guitar. Never use the same cloth, however. Personally, I use one specific cloth on my smart TV’s and I never use it on anything else. You don’t want to accidentally transfer road dirt to your TV screen, right?

For spot cleaning, I use a lower-GSM microfiber cloth (200-300 GSM), similar to what I use to clean my glasses. Here, we want something that will absorb liquid, but not take an entire bottle to keep the cloth damp.

In both cases, the cloths should be soft and dry, to prevent smearing dust around or spreading more dirt. 

CARCAREZ Plush Edgeless Microfiber Towels (Pack of 6)

Made with premium 450 GSM microfiber which have the softness,absorbency and strength. This plush microfiber towel is extra thick, you can really feel the difference

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Distilled Water

We’ve already covered that household chemicals like Windex can be potentially damaging to your TV screen. But even seemingly harmless liquids like tap water can cause damage as well.

Tap water, whether from your city or a well, is filled with tiny minerals and particles. Those particles can scratch your TV screen over time, so I always use distilled water to wet-polish my TV screen. The distilling process will filter out all of those minerals and sediments so you’re left with pure water, and no imperfections.

Screen Cleaners

If distilled water can’t completely clean your smart TV screen, you’ll need to use a dedicated electronics cleaner.

But…you need to do your due diligence and read the ingredients list. Many so-called ‘electronics cleaners’ actually have alcohol or ammonia as their cleaning agent. For example, Windex Electronics Wipes contain ethanol (alcohol) and alkyl polyglycoside, a surficant that helps break down oils and pull them away from the surface (source).

Both can be too harsh for your LCD TV screen, so be sure to look for an all-natural cleaner without ammonia or alcohols.

How to Clean Your TV Screen

1. Turn Off Your TV

Before you start, turn off your television.

Dust, smudges and surface scratches show up much easier when the TV is off. It also helps to minimize the static electricity that attracts the dust particles in the first place.   

If you’re using any sort of liquid cleaner on the screen, whether it’s distilled water or an dedicated electronics cleaner, you should unplug it as well. Your microfiber cloths should never be so damp that liquid could seep into the interior of the TV, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Cleaning smart TV screen with microfiber cloth

2. Dust the TV Screen With a Plush Microfiber Cloth

The first thing you want to do is dust the entire television using a clean, dry, plush microfiber cloth.

Start at the top of the TV and work your way down. You’ll probably want to start on the screen itself, but resist that urge.

A lot of dust congregates on the TV’s bezel. If you save the plastic bits until the end, you run the risk of pushing that dust back on to the screen where you don’t want it.

If you prefer, you can also use canned air to remove excessive, built-up dirt and dust. 

3. Clean with Distilled Water

In most cases, simply dusting off your TV screen will get it looking great again. If it still needs some extra love, it’s time to use the distilled water.

Grab one if the lower-plush microfiber cloths. Ideally, the cloth shouldn’t take a lot of liquid to get it slightly damp. Just a few spritzes should do the trick.

Spray directly on to the cloth – not on the TV screen itself.  Never spray the water directly into any jacks on the back of your TV, or the venting, as this could damage the internal hardware.

Eco-Fused Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

The pack includes 5 black, 5 grey cloths 6 x 7 inches (15cm x 18cm) and 2 white cloths 5.5 x 3.2 inches (14cm x 8cm). The very fine fibers of the cloth is perfect to pick up grease and dirt.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

4. Gently Wipe the Screen Using Circular Motions

With your damp cloth, wipe your TV screen in small, circular patterns. Start with one of the top corners and work your way across, then down the screen.

Be careful not to apply too much pressure. Modern TV screens are made up of thousands of small liquid crystals that could be damaged if you press to hard on the screen.

Remember to wipe down any grooves and the back of the screen as well.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Distilled Water The Only Product I Can Use?

Distilled water is not the only product you can use when polishing your smart TV screen. Most manufacturers suggest a very weak solution of dish soap and water for tough stains. Only a couple of drops are needed for a small spray bottle – a ratio of 100 parts water to 1 part soap. 

If you use soapy water, be sure that the soap is completely dissolved before spraying it. As with other solutions, remember to spray it on the microfiber cloth, not the TV screen itself.

The dish soap will help remove any oil-based smudges and grime, which works best on dirt from food, beverages, pets, or children. Avoid adding too much dish soap. Too strong a solution could leave behind more smudges and sticky residue.

Calyptus Screen Cleaner
  • Absolutely ZERO alcohol, ammonia, streaks, scratches, VOC's, toxic chemicals, or fragrances. Made with the purest type II laboratory grade water.
  • Calyptus is ultra safe and effective, designed specifically for all high end digital screens and electronics, even those with many coatings. 4K, 5K, 8K, OLED, LED.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

I Have an Older TV Screen. So How Do I Clean It?

The same method works for older glass TV screens as well. Simply use soft cloths and distilled water to clean them. You don’t necessarily need a modern, smart TV to clean it properly.

Unlike the glass TV screens we grew up with, modern LCD screens are extremely sensitive, and are most susceptible to scratches or chemical warping. Plasma screens are not far behind. While they may appear to have sturdy glass screens, their anti-glare coating makes them prone to micro-scratches as well.  

However, the cleaning methods provided in this article are safe to use for both old and newer TV screens.

How Can I Keep My Smart TV Screen Clean?

The best way to keep your smart TV screen clean is to dust it as often as possible. This can be achieved by taking a clean, dry cloth and wiping the screen on a weekly basis. If you still see smudges or dirt on your TV screen, you can then use distilled water for a deeper clean. That should be done on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.

If you notice extensive grime or oily build-up, try to clean it as quickly as possible to prevent it from sticking or drying to your TV screen’s surface. Not only will it block your view of your TV, but it will be more challenging to remove once it has dried.

Tim Wells