How to clean a TV screen – make it pristine and avoid damage

Find out how to clean a TV screen of dust, marks and fingerprints while preserving its quality

large sofa and TV
(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

It’s vital to know how to clean a TV screen the right way. Today’s television screens have coatings that can be permanently damaged by inappropriate cleaning methods and products. And even older televisions need careful cleaning to avoid harm to the TV.

Regular cleaning of the TV screen is a must though, if your viewing isn’t to be compromised by the dust, smears and fingerprints that can accumulate on it. And with the right strategy it’s an easy task that won’t take long either.

Use our guide and expert tips to discover how to clean a TV screen effectively and without causing damage to what is, undoubtedly, the best TV you could afford.

How to clean a TV screen

The first thing to know about cleaning a TV screen is that, as a rule, it should be done without any liquid. These are the steps to follow if yours is an LED, LCD, OLED or plasma TV, and we’ve included details on cleaning a tube TV (CRTV), if there’s still one of these in your home.

How often to clean the screen? ‘I highly recommend cleaning your TV at least once a week,’ says expert in indoor and outdoor TVs Olivia Brown of Bozzcovers. ‘This will help prevent serious stains and the accumulation of large amounts of dust on the screen.’

1. Turn off the TV

A bedroom TV idea with sliding grey cabinet doors as part of a wall storage unit

(Image credit: Neville Johnson)

Before embarking on the process of cleaning a TV screen, switch it off at the outlet and unplug it, too. 

As well as a sensible safety procedure, unplugging the TV makes it easier to see any marks on the screen so there’ll be no need to repeat your actions due to any missed smears on the screen.

2. Wipe the screen with a microfiber cloth

To get rid of dust, smears, and fingerprints from the screen use a clean microfiber cloth – we recommend a high quality microfiber, such as Mr Siga's microfiber cloths sold on Amazon – you can tell the difference between low and high quality microfiber in our experience.

‘An abrasive cloth could scratch the screen,’ says Asher Weinstein of projector and screen specialists ProjectorScreen.com. That means no to paper towels either, which could also cause damage to the screen.

‘Wipe the screen with a microfiber cloth in one direction then wipe it a second time in the opposite direction to thoroughly cover the entire screen,’ advises Ana Andres, co-founder of TidyChoice. Make sure to work gently to avoid potential harm to the screen.

If the TV manufacturer supplied a cloth with the television for this task, this can, of course, be used instead.

Simply following this method may be sufficient to remove all the dust and marks from the TV screen, in which case this is all you need to do to clean a TV screen.

3. Deal with stubborn marks

If any marks remain, the next stage of the process of how to clean a TV screen is to deal with these.

‘If there are fingerprints or spots, gently wipe with a very soft microfiber wiper and a very small amount of water,’ says germ prevention expert Tricia Holderman. Always use distilled water and dampen the cloth – you should never spray water or another liquid on to a TV screen to avoid damage and safety hazards. 

‘Gently rub the dirty spot, then dry as needed,’ Tricia says. Make sure the drying is done with a soft microfiber cloth, too.

Some TV manufacturers do allow the use of a very weak mild dish soap solution if marks remain. Again, the liquid should be applied via the cloth and not sprayed on to the screen. Only use this method if your TV manufacturer specifies it and follow its guidelines on how dilute the dish soap should be. Do not place pressure on the screen as you clean off the stain.

4. Clean a tube TV

If you have a tube TV (CRTV) in your home, then the cleaning procedure is a little different, and you can actually use window cleaning spray to clean the TV’s screen. Use a slightly damp microfiber cloth, and apply the cleaning spray to the cloth before cleaning the screen. It’s important that you don’t spray the product directly on to the screen.

Wipe gently to clean, and then dry to avoid smudges.

Can you use baby wipes on a TV screen?

You should never use baby wipes on a TV screen – however easy to grab and apply they might seem.

‘Baby wipes are meant to be used on a baby, moisturizing and sometimes with oils – the last thing you want to apply to your TV screen,’ says Tricia Holderman.

How do you clean a smart TV screen?

To clean a smart TV screen, follow the same procedure you would for any flat-screen TV, using a high quality microfiber cloth to gently remove dust and marks. 

For any remaining fingerprints or smears, slightly dampen a microfiber cloth with distilled water and use to remove them without exerting pressure. Dry with a microfiber cloth.

Sarah Warwick
Sarah Warwick

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.