flat screen tv-ft

How to Clean a Flat Screen TV and Remote

In the modern home, the flat screen TV often takes pride of place. We arrange our furniture in such a way that every chair has a good view of the screen. Well, I do; otherwise, we have family squabbles about who sits where.

Having the TV center-stage, so to speak, is great for viewing our favorite series and movies, but not so great when the TV starts looking like it has shared in one too many TV dinners.

Take a few sticky finger marks, add a sprinkle of pet hair and a dollop of dust, and you have the perfect recipe for a not-so-great-looking flat screen that will result in less viewing pleasure.

I’ve always been concerned about cleaning my TV with chemicals, and there’s nothing worse than using a product that leaves those streaky marks on the screen after cleaning! After some trial and error, I finally figured out the most effective ways to clean the screen, so stay tuned while I share them with you. But first, let’s take a quick look at what you should not do.

How To Avoid Doing Damage to Your Flat Screen

Before we look at the how to, let’s quickly cover the how not to—because doing it wrong can damage your TV. And I’m sure you will agree, a damaged TV is worse than a dirty one.

  • Don’t use window cleaner. Although the outer layer of your screen is made of glass, it doesn’t mean you can use window cleaner on your TV. The glass layer on LCD TV screens is ultra-thin and flexible. You can use window cleaner on the old ‘tube’ TVs because they were made of glass.
  • Don’t spray any cleaning substance directly onto the TV. It is, after all, an electrical appliance. Rather spray cleaning aids onto the cloth and then wipe the TV.
  • Don’t use anything abrasive. The thin, flexible glass that makes up your TV screen will get scratched and damaged.
  • Don’t use a paper towel. Some types of paper towel can be quite abrasive, and it also leaves those irritating little specs of paper fiber behind.
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals. Harsh chemicals could cause damage. Alcohol and ammonia found in store-bought window cleaners can really hurt your flat-screen TV. If you opt for a store-bought screen cleaner, choose one that doesn’t contain acetone, alcohol, or ammonia. The great news is, if you wipe your TV and remote down regularly, you will never need to use more than mild soap and water.

What You Will Need to Clean Your TV

  1. Microfiber cloth or any other soft dry cloth
  2. A quarter cup of water
  3. Half a teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent
  4. A spray bottle.

Clean Your Flat Screen TV in Three Steps

Before you clean your TV or any electrical appliance for that matter, please turn it off and unplug it. You can never be too careful! Water and electricity are not good friends. Also, switching the TV off reduces static which will help you remove the dust, fibers, and hair that are currently statically attracted to your TV screen.

Step 1: Wipe the TV with a dry cloth.

cleaning a flast screen tv with a microfiber cloth

Use a soft, lint-free cloth to wipe the TV using a gentle circular motion. It’s most important not to press hard as you could damage the liquid crystals inside the screen. You can wipe the whole TV down using a dry cloth.

Step 2: Use a damp cloth on places that didn’t come clean when you first wiped.

cleaning a flast screen tv with a damp cloth

Sticky fingerprints and other marks may require more than a dry wipe. Dampen a corner of your cloth and wipe the mark. Stay with the gentle, circular movements.

Step 3: Extra-sticky marks will need a soapy solution.

TVs are subjected to the strangest things. I’ve had to wipe bolognaise sauce from mine before, so I’m not judging. If a damp cloth doesn’t do the trick, mix your water and dishwashing detergent together and put the solution in a spray bottle. Spray some of the soapy mix onto your cloth and have another go at that stain. Once you have removed the stain, wipe the area again with the dry part of your cloth.

Watch this video for a more in-depth explanation of the above steps.

How to Clean the Rest of Your TV

You can use the three steps I listed above to clean the rest of your TV – the sides, the back, and the stand or wall-mounted bracket.

Briefly – wipe with a soft dry cloth, use a damp corner of the cloth, and finally, resort to a soapy cloth for stubborn dirt. Once you’re done, wipe with the dry cloth again.

Now that the TV is nice and clean, how about cleaning the rest of your entertainment system?

You can wipe down all surfaces with a soft, damp cloth to remove dust and fibers. Spot clean stains and sticky marks by spraying your soapy solution on the cloth.

How to Clean Your TV remote

cleaning the remote

I would recommend you remove the batteries from your remote before you clean it; otherwise, you may push buttons and end up reprograming your whole system! Store the batteries in a safe place, away from children and pets, while you work.

Turn the remote, button side down, and gently tap it against your other hand or another hard (but padded) surface. If you tap the remote against a hard unpadded surface, you risk cracking the remote. This action will dislodge crumbs and dirt that may be trapped between the buttons. You can also use an old toothbrush or wooden toothpick to dislodge debris; just be careful not to push the debris deeper into the tiny gaps under the buttons, rendering them ineffective.

Make sure your cloth is damp, not wet—tucked under those little buttons are electronic connections that mustn’t get water on them, or they will become faulty. Use your damp cloth to wipe both sides of the remote. You can use the edge of the cloth to wipe inside all crevices that are inclined to harbor dirt and germs, including the open spaces between the buttons. You can use also use cotton buds for this purpose if you happen to have some on hand.

When you’re done, ensure the remote is no longer damp before replacing the batteries to prevent any short-circuiting of the electronics.

All Done!

Now you can sit back and enjoy some well-deserved TV viewing on your sparkly clean flat screen TV with your good-as-new looking remote.

Toni Henning

Toni Henning is a freelance writer and a contributor to Durability Matters.