Cleaning a Monitor

Category: Hardware

Computer screens get dusty, dirty, and dingy just like windows. But unlike glass windows, computer screens are complex, sensitive electronic devices that can be damaged by incorrect cleaning. Here's how to clean various types of computer screens safely...

Cleaning LCD Monitor

How to Clean Your Computer Monitor

Older CRT screens -- the big bulky ones -- are made of sturdy glass. They can be cleaned much like glass windows if you exercise some common sense precautions. Unplug the monitor from your computer and its electrical power source. Dampen a clean cotton cloth with window cleaner, but don't use so much that it drips down the screen into the electronics; that might cause a short circuit when you power up the monitor again. Never spray cleaner directly on a CRT monitor screen, it's almost certain to run down under the bezel and into the circuitry.

Wipe the screen from the top down, and side to side. Pay particular attention to the corners and edges of the screen's frame, where dust and grunge tend to build up. Let the screen air-dry thoroughly before plugging it into a power source and your computer again.

Cleaning LCD and Plasma Screens

LCD and plasma screens -- the ones on laptops, newer desktop computers and televisions -- are not as tough as glass CRT screens. They can be scratched fairly easily, so it is very important to use a soft cotton or microfiber cloth that is completely free of dirt. These types of screens are often plastic, or have an anti-glare coating that may react badly to household cleaners such as Windex. In particular, avoid any cleaning liquid that contains acetone; ethyl alcohol; methyl chloride; ethyl acid; or ammonia. If plain water won't do the trick, mix water with white vinegar in equal parts.

TIP: If you have a house cleaner at home, or a cleaning staff at work, make sure they know that they should never use Windex or similar glass cleaners on your LCD screens. That includes laptops, desktop monitors, and TV screens as well.

Do not scrub or press hard on a LCD or plasma screen. It may bend, stressing the tiny wires embedded in the plastic screen and possibly breaking some of them. Then you will have permanent damage, like a dead pixel that remains dark all the time or a "hot" pixel that stays lit when it should shut off.

A lot of different screen-cleaning solutions are on the market. They're all pretty expensive and don't do the job any better than vinegar and water. Likewise with "specially treated" cleaning cloths. Cotton underwear or handkerchiefs are just fine. Many hardware stores sell inexpensive bags full of lint-free white cotton cloth scraps used to apply finishes to furniture; those work well for screens too.

Cleaning the case of a monitor requires a bit less gentleness but just as much attention to drips. Do not let cleaning solution drip down into the circuitry! A desktop monitor collects the most dust on its top, so pay attention to that area. It's generally unnecessary and ineffective to try and blow or vacuum dust out of the inside of a monitor.

Do you have something to say about cleaning a computer monitor? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Cleaning a Monitor"

Posted by:

22 Jan 2010

this seems obvious, but should the laptop be off while cleaning, or does it make a difference. It's hard to see the grunge with the screen power off.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I don't think it matters.

Posted by:

Jack mccurdy
22 Jan 2010

You are not supposed to use tap water. Distilled water only!. I make a 50/50 mixture of distilled water and alcohol. This is what most of the monitor wipes that you buy contain. I have been using this formula for years, and my monitors and TV's always look perfect. And it drys very fast.

Posted by:

22 Jan 2010

Very elementary but important: remove the power source or keep the system off. Water ingresswill cause damage.

Posted by:

Barb Breger
22 Jan 2010

Thanks so much for this article. Just getting ready to clean my new monitor and did not know what was the best method. Short, sweet and to the point. Thanks again.

Posted by:

Darcetha Manning
22 Jan 2010

Thank you for this information. I was unsure how to clean a Plasma or LCD monitor, now I know better.

Posted by:

Tyson Richards
22 Jan 2010

I read in one of the tech newsletters a couple of years ago that using a soft cloth slightly dampened or misted with water and Armor All works well for older LCD Screens. Polish with dry cloth after applying. I use it regularly on laptops that I work on and it works great and helps fill scratches. I don't think that it should be used on the newer high gloss screens.

Posted by:

Wendy McIntosh
25 Jan 2010

I wiped my monitor and keyboard on my laptop with a dry paper towel and now whey I type the letters "J", "K", & "L" is get "1", "2", & "3". What can I do to fix it? The "U", "I", & "O" is also affected as well as "N', & "M".

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sounds like one of your ALT keys is stuck. Tap them several times and see if they pop back up. You can try blowing compressed air under the keys if that doesn't help.

Posted by:

Austin Daniel
27 Jan 2010

To the guy above: Your numlock is on. Turn it off. Or, your 'fn' key is stuck.

Posted by:

John Burrows
28 Jan 2010

I use the same liquid cleaner and microfiber cloth that my optometrist gives me to clean my eyeglasses. I figure that if it's safe for the various coatings and the plastic lenses it won't hurt displays or even shiny laptop cases.

Posted by:

28 Jan 2010

I've used eyeglass cleaner on plastic sunglasses numerous times without damage. Do you think that eyeglass cleaner with a soft cotton cloth would be a safe choice for LCD/LED/computer monitor screens?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes, they probably have similar coatings.

Posted by:

28 Jan 2010

Off subject, but thank you Austin Daniel! For years, I never knew why I had a 'num lk' key without a numeric keypad.

Posted by:

31 Jan 2010

I have found it necessary to let a screen cool down before cleaning it, mostly large LCD and plasma screen.
Trying to clean a hot screen is difficult and can leave dried marks behind which are harder to remove.

Posted by:

08 Feb 2010

A late post about monitor cleaning.I agree with using white vinegar and water but would suggest using at the least filtered water or distilled water as many areas have water that has a lot of undesirables in it.

Posted by:

15 Mar 2010


Posted by:

20 Oct 2010

I highly recommend checking out Fountonium (at They bundle a cloth that doesn't scratch displays and eliminates the effort of concocting a solution yourself.

Posted by:

10 Dec 2016

May purified water mixed with white vinegar equally instead of distilled water be used on an LCD or LED monitor screen. I was cautioned that it has to be distilled water and no other water. Help me out with this.

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