5 cleaning methods you should NEVER use on a TV – and what to do if you have

Using these cleaning hacks on a TV can cause lasting damage – here's what to avoid

A beige chair in a living room with floor to ceiling window and flat screen TV hung on a wall
(Image credit: Lucie Ayres 22 Interiors / photography by Noah Webb)

Given that the majority of us use our TVs every day, it is important to keep them clean for the best experience. However, use the wrong cleaning methods and you can easily damage not just your viewing enjoyment, but you can also irreparably damage this vital and expensive home appliance.

So, while it is important to know how to clean a TV correctly, it's just as important to know what to avoid, and the cleaning hacks to ignore.

Use our expert tips to discover how not to clean a TV, and what to do if you do get it wrong. 

5 cleaning methods you should never use on a TV

A white TV unit with a hung flatscreen TV surrounded by shelves

(Image credit: Sara Cosgrove)

If you have taken the time to find the best places to buy a TV and spent your hard-earned cash on the best TV you could afford, cleaning it with the wrong products is the last thing you will want to do. 

Here is what to avoid when cleaning your TV.

1. Avoid harsh chemical cleaners

'Although products marketed towards glass and indoor surfaces may seem like a good option for cleaning your TV, the chances are these products will always do more harm than good,' says Jennifer Ebert, deputy editor for Homes & Gardens. 'These chemical cleaners usually contain things such as alcohol, ammonia, and benzene which will strip away your television's glare-proof coating.'

Avoid products such as Windex, for example, and any product that contains acetone too for the perfect TV screen finish. If you do choose to use a marketed cleaner, always opt for one without these chemicals or any type of abrasive. 

You may also want to skip purchasing a dedicated 'screen cleaning kit'. These sets usually contain a microfiber cloth and a small bottle of solution that is mainly water. It is more cost-effective to purchase a standard microfiber cloth such as these on Amazon, and use with no cleaning solution at all, simply wiping away dust. Or use a small amount of distilled water for a gentle homemade cleaning spray, or anti-grease wipes, such as Miracle Wipes for Electronics Cleaning, which comes with a microfiber towel.  

2. Avoid the wrong cloth

One of the best cleaning tips any expert will offer you is to invest in good quality, non-abrasive cloths for most of your household cleaning tasks, and cleaning a TV is no different.

One of the main ways you can damage your TV when cleaning it is by using an abrasive cloth, paper towel, or even your sleeve instead of a softer material. 'Even the most gentle of abrasive materials can cause irreparable scratches on your TV screen,' Jen says. 'They may also contribute to removing the screen's anti-glare coating.'

Made for purpose, microfiber cloths are safer.

3. Make sure to dry your screen 

'While you should always try to avoid adding moisture to your television screen in the first place, making sure you do wipe the screen down afterwards to dry it and remove residue is a must,' Jen explains.

One of the biggest mistakes when cleaning a TV is leaving residue and moisture behind, especially as using a cleaning solution should always be a last resort. 

4. Avoid using pressure 

Wiping down your TV is not the same as cleaning a regular surface or cleaning windows. Adding pressure to a TV screen is one of the biggest no-nos, with even the smallest amount of pressure easily damaging the small pixel lights behind.

Remember, your TV is not the same as your touchscreen phone.

5. Don't forget about the ports 

'Forgetting to clean the back of your TV and the ports is another way you could cause damage to your TV,' Jen points out. 'Leaving dust to collect in the ports can prevent them from working correctly over time, ultimately making your TV useless.' 

What to do if you use the wrong products on a TV

Modern storage with shelving and tv stand

(Image credit: James Merrell)

If you have used the wrong solution to clean your TV and it has caused damage, there is little you can do to rectify the issue.

If you have sprayed the wrong solution onto your screen but have not yet wiped it away, however, there are some steps you can take to prevent some damage. Use a dry microfiber cloth to gently dab the solution away, drying your screen without rubbing it into the screen or over a large area. Once the bulk of the solution has been removed, use another microfiber cloth dampened with distilled water to clean away residue before thoroughly drying the screen. 

While this might not be able to prevent all damage every time, it will prevent damaging the entire screen.

Can you damage a TV by cleaning it?

You can damage your TV by cleaning it incorrectly with liquid cleaners. If you do wish to use a liquid cleaner to wipe down your TV screen make sure to spray a small amount of it onto a cloth and not directly on the screen. Do not use liquid cleaners that contain alcohol, ammonia, or acetone as this can damage the anti-glare coating and leave a residue behind. 

Can I use glasses cleaner on my TV?

You can use glasses cleaner to clean your TV screen so long as you spray the cleaner onto a cloth and not directly onto the screen itself. Use a soft microfiber cloth dampened slightly with cleaner and gently wipe the screen applying little to no pressure to prevent damaging your TV.

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.