Your mouse and keyboard are probably among your computer’s dirtiest components. However, the screen can also be filthy, especially if you’re working from home. It not only grabs dust from the air, but it can be a target for sneezes, spills, and who knows what else. If you haven’t washed your display recently, here’s what you need to know on how to clean a computer screen.
See also: How to keep your laptop keyboard clean
We’ve split our guide into a few key areas — the materials you should and shouldn’t use, as well as the actual steps you need. Our guide also works for both standalone monitors and laptop displays.
Ready to bid those germs achoo? Let’s get to it.
What materials do you need to clean your computer screen?
While your screen probably feels pretty sturdy to the touch, we’re not talking about old-school tube TVs anymore. Your display isn’t made of thick glass, but rather it’s a thin layer that’s far weaker against scratches. Some laptops may use a tougher pane of glass, but it’s still better to be safe than sorry.
As you gather your materials, make sure to avoid all of the following:
- Your shirt
- Paper towels
- Bath towels
- Any other material that’s slightly rough
Instead, grab a trusty microfiber cloth. They’re not only great for cleaning your glasses, but they also excel on computer screens, smartphones, and so much more. You can find them at most retailers, but Amazon might have your best selection. Here are just a few cheap options to consider:
- Screen Mom microfiber four-pack for $12.99
- Eco Fused microfiber five-pack for $7.79
- MagicFiber microfiber six-pack for $8.99
Any of the above options will work, and you may find it best to have two microfiber cloths to clean your computer screen. You’ll use the first for the cleaning while the second cloth is to dry your display.
What cleaning substances are safest?
Even when you’re carefully using your microfiber cloth, you’ll want to avoid several cleaning substances. They will damage the top layer of the screen, especially if it has an anti-glare coating.
Here’s what to avoid:
- Ethyl alcohol
- Methyl alcohol
- Any other corrosive substance
- Ethyl acid
- Methyl Chloride
See? That’s not of bad of a list to avoid. Instead, use warm distilled water if you have it. We can’t guarantee the quality of your tap water, so better safe than sorry. Also, avoid standard window and surface cleaners.
If you’re finding stubborn stains that won’t wipe off, try making a household cleaner. Luckily the steps are pretty simple, and you can usually use materials you already have. Here are three options to try:
- 50% distilled water and 50% white vinegar
- 100% distilled water and one drop of dish detergent
- 50% distilled water and 50% isopropyl alcohol
Should you use special wipes or sprays?
Products with isopropyl alcohol are typically safe to clean your computer screen with. If you’re considering wipes, make sure that they’re individually wrapped and designed explicitly for screens. Amazon has plenty of options, so you should be able to find something that works. Try these on for size:
You can give special sprays a try as well, and many include a microfiber cloth to make things easy. If possible, check for the ingredients in a mist before you buy it. We’re fans of the all-in-one screen cleaner kit from Whoosh! that you can get for less than $20 on Amazon right now.
Don’t forget, you can always create your cleaning mixture instead. No matter which way you go, never spray the computer screen directly. Instead, spray your microfiber cloth and use it as a wipe. This is to avoid accidentally getting extra liquid behind the frame since isopropyl alcohol is flammable.
The steps to clean your computer screen
Now you have your cloth, you’ve gathered your cleaning materials, and it’s time to get down to business. There aren’t too many steps involved, but we’ll walk you through the basics.
1. Turn off the display
It’s always best to work with your display powered off. This should help cut down on static, as the shock from your cleaning motions could damage the screen components. Some people will tell you to take off your socks and stand on a hard floor to discharge any built-up static, but this is probably overkill for cleaning your screen.
The layers beneath your display are also charged with electricity. While you probably won’t actually damage the pixels due to the glass layer, it’s better to be safe. Remember to treat your monitor gently, too; there’s no need to smash anything involved accidentally.
2. Take a duster to the computer screen
A soft duster is never a bad idea if you see the dust on your computer screen. We’re not talking about a French maid’s feather duster, but Swiffer’s options should work well. You want to make sure that your duster doesn’t cause static and that it actually gathers the dust.
There’s no special technique to dust your screen. Just make sure you get all parts of it. Swiffer made a video where it suggests an “X” pattern, but it’s up to you. No matter what, you’ll want to get the edges as well as the main display.
3. Wipe the panel with your microfiber cloth
Now comes the step that involves your cleaning mixture. Dampen your microfiber cloth with your concoction of choice, and remember not to spray the screen directly. Also, make sure that your material is not dripping liquid when you begin to clean your display.
We recommend wiping horizontally or vertically across your screen with the microfiber. You could use circular motions as well, but this could leave buffer marks if you begin to scrub too vigorously. Patience is the name of the game in screen cleaning, so don’t be afraid to take your time, and make sure not to press on your display too hard.
4. Dry your computer screen
The last real step is to take your second microfiber cloth and dry your screen. You may have to dry the entire screen or just a tiny part, but don’t power your screen back on until you know it’s dry. If you still see spots of dirt, repeat step three until you’re happy with the results.
5. Power it on and get back to the action
And voila, your screen is clean enough that you can turn it back on. Now that you know what to do, maybe set yourself a regular cleaning schedule. Extra sanitation never hurts in the middle of a pandemic.