How to clean your computer screen — safely and successfully

For the longest time, I was afraid to thoroughly clean my computer screen. But I look at the screen for hours a day, so a smudgy, dirty screen is like wearing smudgy, dirty glasses. Ugh.

I finally bought some wipes that were (supposedly) specifically made for the job, and I eagerly used them to clean my Mac screen. Well, they left big, long, seemingly permanent streaks across my entire screen. (When I brought it for maintenance, in fact, the techie asked what on earth I did to the screen.) So I decided to finally figure out the best way to safely and successfully clean the screen. 

It’s much easier than I was making it/anticipating!

Here’s all you need to do:

• Shut off your computer and unplug it. It’s not only better for the screen to be black, it’s easier to see the dirt, too. Unplugging it will prevent shorting anything out. Just in case. 

Laptop with black screen on wood table

• Wipe the frame of your screen with a clean cloth and a mild cleaning solution (like a mild dishwashing or handwashing soap and water). Be careful not to get any of it on the screen. 

•  Use a clean, soft, lint-free  cloth to gently wipe the screen clean. Microfiber is most often recommended for computer screens. If you (like me) want to use something else — like a cotton cloth — make sure it’s lint free and super soft. (Monitors are very delicate, and even rough fibers on a cloth can damage them.) I have used old, cut-up t-shirts. Whatever you choose, make sure the cloth is sparkling clean so that even the teeniest bits of grit don’t get scratched into the surface of your screen. 

• If dirt or smudges or whatever else you’ve managed to get on your screen remains, dampen a clean soft cloth with filtered or distilled water and clean the screen. Gently wipe in a circular motion. Don’t rub. (Apparently being too enthusiastic can damage the pixels in the monitor!) 

• If you have really stubborn dirt that still won’t come off, mix some distilled white vinegar (not cider vinegar) with your water. A solution of half water and half vinegar will work well. Again, wipe gently. Repeat until the smudges are gone. 

• Let the screen completely air dry before turning it back on.

What not to do:

• Don’t use tap water. It may contain substances, like minerals, that can streak or damage your screen. 

A laptop computer sits beside a vase of pink and white flowers in front of a window

• Don’t use a soaking wet cloth. You don’t want water dripping on your screen and into crevices.

• Never spray liquid directly onto your monitor. Always put it on your cloth instead. Again, moisture can seep into your monitor and damage components.

• Never use glass cleaners, solvents, abrasive cleaners, alcohol, or ammonia on your screen. These substances can damage and even wear away the coating on your screen.

• Don’t use paper towels, tissues, or rough fabrics on your screen.

• Avoid soaps. Some cleaning directions for monitors suggest using dishwashing soap, but some soaps have ingredients that can damage LCD screens. 

• Never use your fingernail or anything sharp to remove stubborn spots on your screen. It’s too easy to scratch it permanently.

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