How to clean a TV screen – without streaks or damaging your TV

Need to know how to clean a TV screen without causing harm? Here’s the expert way to a clear picture

A Bush HD READY Smart TV on a white TV console in a living room
(Image credit: Bush)

Want to know how to clean a TV screen? It’s a much used appliance in every home, and an investment, too, so knowing how to clean it the right way is vital. Who wants dust or smudges on the screen, compromising the picture? Yep, that’s nobody.

But it’s vital that how you clean doesn’t cause any damage to the screen once you’ve found the best TV for your home – and that’s where we come in.

We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to how to clean a TV screen so you can enjoy a great picture and avoid causing harm. There are tips from the experts, too, to make the job easy.

How to clean a TV screen: step by step

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Ready to learn how to clean a TV screen? Bear in mind that it is important to do it right because modern TV screens have coatings that you can damage if you use inappropriate cleaning products.

But don’t worry, these steps will give you the inside track on how to clean a flat screen TV. And if you’ve got another type, we’ve got the lowdown on caring for those, too.

How often do you need to take on this chore? ‘TV screens are all about that incredible high definition picture to watch your favorite shows, movies or sporting events on,’ says Leanne Stapf, chief operating officer of The Cleaning Authority

‘As dust builds up, it can distort the quality of the picture. To keep the TV screen and picture as crisp as it was the day it was purchased, a weekly cleaning is best. Over the course of a week dust, fingerprints and film are bound to build up and the longer these remain on the screen, the harder to remove.’

You will need:

1. Turn off the TV

Before you clean your TV screen, turn the television off and unplug it, too. This allows it to cool before you clean it, it’s safer for the TV (and you, to a degree). 

The other benefit? ‘It's easier to see smudges when the screen is dark,’ says Dorothea Hudson, an appliance expert with USInsuranceAgents

2. Wipe away smudges, fingerprints and dust

Take a clean microfiber cloth and carefully wipe the screen to remove fingerprints, dust, and any smudges.

‘Use circular, gentle motions to get rid of any handprints or streaks,’ advises Jen Stark, founder of Happy DIY Home. ‘Don’t press down too hard on the screen itself when you're trying to get rid of stubborn spots because this can cause damage.’

Note that this procedure should deal with most of what ends up on the TV screen, so check the results as you might be able to finish here.

Never substitute paper towels or (and we probably don’t need to say this, but for the avoidance of expensive errors) an abrasive pad for a microfiber cloth. These can all scratch the coating of a modern TV screen, causing permanent damage.

Got a cleaning cloth along with the TV when you bought it? It was made for the job, so definitely use it.

3. Remove stubborn marks

If any marks remain on the TV screen after your work with the microfiber cloth, slightly dampen a clean microfiber cloth with distilled water and use this cloth to tackle the problem area. ‘It's important to use distilled water because tap water is filled with minerals and small particles that will scratch your screen,’ cautions Danielle Zierk of Palm Coast Handyman

Don’t ever spray the water or any other sort of liquid on to the screen. ‘A sudden burst of water could seep into the set’s inner workings and cause a component failure,’ warns Dorothea Hudson.

Make sure you work very gently on the mark; pressure could cause damage to the screen.

Once you’ve removed the mark, finish by gently wiping the screen with a dry microfiber cloth to avoid streaks.

How to clean a TV screen on an older television

Owner of a tube TV (CRTV)? These haven’t been manufactured for many years now, but it’s worth knowing how to clean a TV screen if you have one of these that’s still going strong. In fact, these have glass screens that can be cleaned like any other glass in your house – for instance with a window cleaning spray. Don’t do this with any other type of TV, though.

If yours is an LCD or OLED TV, the steps above are the ones to use to keep the screen damage-free. They’re the route to follow if yours is a plasma TV, too. Although these haven’t been manufactured since 2014, the screens often have a coating that could be compromised otherwise.

Which other parts of the TV should you clean?

Dust accumulates on the TV, so clean the body in addition to the screen. A slightly damp microfiber cloth is perfect, and make sure you use it gently. Again, do not spray anything on to the TV.

Once you’ve finished, use a clean microfiber cloth to remove any moisture.

As for the speakers, again, use a microfiber cloth to remove dust from the surface. If yours have become very dusty, you can use your vacuum cleaner’s upholstery tool to carefully remove dust from the front of the speakers. 

Clean the remote control, too, as they’re one of the places we recommend you tackle to get rid of germs in your home. Take out the batteries, hold the remote so that the buttons are face down, and tap it to remove dust and crumbs. Next wipe the whole thing with a microfiber cloth dampened with water or with TV screen wipes. 

If the buttons are really grimy, use dampened cotton wool buds to get into them, or use a dry toothbrush to carefully dislodge crumbs or dirt that has become stuck around the buttons. Finally, wipe the remote down with a dry, lint-free cloth and replace the batteries.

What do I use to clean a TV screen?

The key when it comes to knowing how to clean a TV screen is using the correct cloths. These need to be soft and mustn’t leave behind a lot of debris, explains Christen Costa, CEO, Gadget Review.

‘I recommend a small microfiber cloth,’ he says. ‘You can find huge packs of them in auto supply and in most cleaning aisles.’

How do you clean a TV without ruining it?

Unless yours is an old tube TV the way to avoid ruining your TV is to skip cleaning products. 

‘Cleaning products such as Windex may contain harsh ingredients including alcohol and ammonia, which can be damaging to the LCD panels of the screen,’ says Leanne Stapf. 

‘For the latest OLED and LCD TV screens, it is best to steer clear of Windex or other glass cleaners. With the sensitivity of the latest screen technology, a dry method of cleaning would be best.’

Lucy Searle

Lucy is Global Editor-in-Chief of Homes & Gardens having worked on numerous interiors and property titles. She was founding Editor of Channel 4’s 4Homes magazine, was Associate Editor at Ideal Home, before becoming Editor-in-Chief of in 2018 then moving to Homes & Gardens in 2021. She has also written for Huffington Post, AOL, UKTV, MSN, House Beautiful, Good Homes, and many women’s titles. Find her writing about everything from buying and selling property, self build, DIY, design and consumer issues to gardening.