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How to clean your HDTV screen safely and easily

Cleaning your HDTV
Cleaning your HDTV
Allsop - Wikimedia Commons

You just purchased the crowning jewel of your living room, a new big screen TV that will fulfill all of your wildest high definition fantasies, but out of the corner of your eye you see your child make a bee line for the television, you see your child reaching for the screen, you try to stop it but it is no good. Your TV just got its first greasy hand print.

You would think that grabbing the nearest cleaning solution and some paper towels would be fine for cleaning the TV, but this is not the best, nor the safest solution. When it comes to cleaning new flat panel TV's you have to be very careful because they are made out of materials that can be easily damaged by normal household cleaning products and paper towels.

Most of the screens used in LCD, LED, and Plasma televisions have anti-reflective coatings on them, and using the wrong cleaner could cause some serious damage, even paper towels can cause damage to your new TV, because they are too abrasive, and they could easily scratch the screen. Cleaning the screen of your new TV is a little more challenging, but it is worth taking a few extra steps to protect your new investment.

The perfect solution

When you get to the store to buy your cleaning materials you will be faced with a large selection of products that claim to be perfect for cleaning your flat screen. Most will come with a bottle of cleaning solution and a microfiber cloth. The microfiber cloth is perfect for cleaning modern TV's thanks to is extremely soft surface, but the cleaning solution might not be safe at all.

Take a close look at the list of chemicals listed on the bottle, and you may well see that it has alcohol, or ammonia listed, and those my friends are the flat panel's worst enemy. Alcohol and ammonia are pretty nasty cleaning agents when it comes to TV's, and if they are used to clean the TV, the chemicals could (over time) eat right through the screen, yes that's right it will burn through the materials the screen is made from.

This is really more of a problem with LCD, and LED based TV's, because they do not use glass for the screen. LCD and LED TV's use a synthetic material that does not react well to alcohol or ammonia, Plasma in theory could be cleaned with a solution that contains alcohol as the screen is made from glass, however, Plasma screens are unique in the fact they have anti-reflective coating on the glass to stop light interfering with the picture, the alcohol will eat right through that protective layer of reflective coating.
The safest product you can use to clean your screen is distilled water. It is perfect for this task.

The great thing about distilled water is that it is relatively cheap, in fact it is much cheaper than the $8 or $9 the cleaning solution will cost you. Distilled water is free from impurities, and being chemical free, it is safe to use on LCD and Plasma screens. You can get a glass cleaning microfiber cloth as well, these are very soft and will not scratch your screen, unlike paper towels.

The cleaning process

So how do you actually clean the screen? There are some steps to take before, and during the cleaning process that will make your TV look shiny and new again.

Never start cleaning the screen with the TV on, or just after it has been turned off. The screen will be hot as these televisions can produce quite a bit of heat. Make sure the screen is cold, if you try to clean when it is hot, you will end up with horrible streaks across the screen that can be a nightmare to remove.

The second most important thing to remember is never spray, or apply the liquid directly to the screen. The screens are not sealed like they used to be on older CRT style televisions. If you spray water on the screen, it could potentially go right down into the case and you run the risk of destroying your TV. Instead apply the cleaning solution directly to the microfiber cloth, and then use that on the screen.

When you start to clean the screen, start at one end of the television and wipe from top to bottom. Do not use up and down motions, just one wipe, top to bottom. When done with the first wipe, move over an inch then wipe top to bottoms again. Do this until the whole screen has been cleaned, and yes it is a tedious process, but you want to make sure you are protecting your $1000 investment. Perhaps the last piece of the TV to be cleaned will be the bezel. When cleaning the Bezel (the case around the screen) use another soft microfiber cloth, because paper towels could easily scratch the case as well

Follow the tips listed above, and you will have the cleanest TV in the neighborhood. Just remember never use alcohol, or ammonia based cleaning solutions and only use a microfiber cloth. I recommend doing this once per week, even if there are no new sticky paw prints on it.

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