How to clean a TV screen without damaging it

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If your TV is showing unsightly fingerprints, marks or smudges, you'll need to know how to clean a TV screen. This is often the case if you’ve got young children running around or frantic pets around. In addition, dust will cover the screen quickly, even if you have one of the best TVs — after all, we spend a lot of time in front of it.

But how do you safely clean a TV screen without damaging it? Read our handy step-by-step guide to help you wipe away any marks and have a clear, crisp image once again (for those movie nights!).

How often should you clean the TV screen?

What you will need

- Microfiber cloth designed for cleaning eyeglasses or camera lenses

- TV screen cleaning solution

- Water (in some cases)

There’s no specific rule, but if you notice an annoying, greasy mark, deal with it as soon as possible. 

If dust is the only thing that shows up on your screen, cleaning it once a week is good practice. Make sure you regularly clean the TV as you don’t want dust to enter the casing and cause damage. 

Before you start

First of all, always refer to your manual. This will give you the specifics on what you can and can’t use to clean the screen. 

Some websites recommend using window cleaners and household substitutions such as vinegar, but this can cause irrevocable damage on flat-screen TVs and void the warranty, so stick to what your manual suggests. 

Some manuals also advise you to use water, while others don’t, so you need to understand your TV’s limitations before you start. 

 How to clean a flat-screen TV

Cleaning the TV screen

(Image credit: Future)

1. Switch off and unplug the TV. As entertaining as it is to clean the TV screen while others are trying to watch it, please don’t as it’s a safety hazard. While the set is switched off, you can also better see any smudges or fingerprints.   

2. Wipe away any dust with a dry microfiber cloth. Some TVs come with a microfiber cloth for this purpose. If yours didn’t, you will need to buy one that is designed for delicate work such as cleaning eyeglasses or camera lenses. MagicFiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloths are a good example of this. 

Gently wipe the dry microfiber cloth in a circular motion across the screen to pick up any immediate dust. Don’t press too hard as that can cause damage. 

It’s essential that you don’t use any other form of cloth or towel to do this, such as paper towels or rags, because these can scratch the screen. You can also use the microfiber cloth on the frame to give that a once-over too. 

3. How to get rid of fingerprints and smudges. If you notice you’ve still got marks on the screen after you wipe it with a cloth, then you’ve got a couple of options. 

If your manual advises so, you can use water to clean the screen. Dampen the microfiber cloth and gently rub over the stains in a circular motion. It’s imperative that you do not wet the screen directly as it can penetrate the seal and damage the internal electronics. It can be tempting to scrub at marks, but don’t do this as it can cause damage. 

Alternatively, if your manual allows, you can apply a screen-cleaning solution directly to the cloth and use that instead. Screen Mom is a good brand, and it comes with a microfiber cloth. Pre-moistened wipes such as MiracleWipe also exist if your manual allows their use.

4. Let your screen dry. You can use a dry microfiber cloth to speed up the process, but let your TV completely dry before you plug it back in.  

How to clean a tube TV screen 

Tube TV

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’re a little more old-fashioned and have a traditional cathode-ray-tube TV, the good news is that it’s much easier to clean!   

1. Switch off and unplug the TV. Always better safe than sorry.

2. Wipe away any dust with a dry microfiber cloth. Follow the same steps for this as above. 

3. How to get rid of fingerprints and smudges. Tube TVs have a traditional glass screen, so you can wet the microfiber cloth with water or a glass cleaner and go to town! These aren’t as delicate as flat screens, but remember, never spray directly on the screen.

4. Let your screen dry. As the screen is made of glass, you can also buff it dry using a microfiber cloth. 

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!