How to clean a TV screen: care tips for flatscreen televisions

Wipe those flatscreens down

How to clean a TV screen
(Image: © runna10 / Getty Images)

You need to know how to properly clean your TV – whether it’s a brand new one with a bunch of different requirements or one you’ve had years that you really should be taking better care of. 

Cleaning your TV isn’t just for the sake of hygiene. It also ensures that layers of dirt and dust on on your display isn’t obscuring your viewing experience and stopping your picture from looking its best. Not to mention fingerprint marks can really irritate you once you’ve spotted even the faintest one mid-movie.

And it’s not just the display that you need to consider. Vents and speaker grilles also present big problems for dust given there’s a constant flow of air through the machinery. Old homes that have fireplaces are particularly bad for kicking out a lot of debris into the air that can clog up expensive kit – we have not-so-fond memories of our old Xbox 360 wheezing from coal dust back in the day.

But how exactly are you meant to keep your television clean without damaging the parts or the screen? 

To make sure you’re treating your TV with the cleaning care it needs, we spoke to the TV specialists at Richer Sounds (opens in new tab) to find out how to clean your television, and the most common pitfalls to avoid.

Your screen is the most important thing to keep clean (Image Credit: LG)

Your screen is the most important thing to keep clean (Image Credit: LG) (Image credit: LG)

1. Use a lint-free cloth

When you're staring at the television screen all day, or all night (we don't judge) it's important to make sure there isn't any dust or grime getting in the way of the picture.

It's best to use a lint-free cleaning cloth, as this kind of material doesn't shed fibers when rubbing against surfaces – meaning you're not adding to the mess, generating static against the screen, or risking scratching any glass (the kind of cloth you use to clean your glasses works great).

And don't worry about whether your TV is an exception: small TVs and 65-inch TVs alike will have a similar kind of glass display, regardless of whether it's an LCD, OLED, or QLED panel.

Whatever you do, don't stop wiping down halfway: an uneven clean may be even worse than a dusty one, as some sections of the screen will be less covered with dust than others.

Don't ruin that display with overzealous sprays (Image Credit: Samsung)

Don't ruin that display with overzealous sprays (Image Credit: Samsung) (Image credit: Samsung)

2. Go easy on liquids

Firstly: don't apply any spray, water, or cleaning solution directly to the screen.

You'll want to stick to just a dry cloth where possible, though if your television is particularly dirty – who knows how – it should be fine to slightly dampen the cloth with water before wiping it down.

It's important not to use a cleaning agent that's too corrosive, as regular cleaning products "can be too harsh for a TV and strip the protective coating off delicate screens." Even soap may be too much for it, though it depends how filthy your screen is (honestly, do you keep it outside?).

It's also best to avoid using too much liquid or a spray solution, as large amounts can seep inside the TV itself and damage parts of the hardware: "Liquid plus electricity is generally a bad idea!"

Those HDMI ports at the back may need some attention too (Image Credit: TechRadar)

Those HDMI ports at the back may need some attention too (Image Credit: TechRadar) (Image credit: Future)

3. Casing and ports

So you've wiped down your screen, but do you need to worry about the rest of it?

There's no harm in treating the casing in the same way – a dry or slightly dampened cloth – and it will generally be less sensitive than the screen itself.

Ports with leads or cabled attached shouldn't be letting in any dust, and AV kit these days generally doesn't need you to blow out dust every time to get it working – like the hefty game cartridges on the Nintendo 64. Empty ports though "may need a gentle puff of canned air every once in a while to remove dust.

how to clean TV remote

TV remotes can be the worst offenders when it comes to harbouring dirt and germs (Image credit: TechRadar)

4. Cleaning your TV remote

It may be easy to overlook your TV remote, but, as the device that gets the most hands-on action in your home entertainment setup – and is therefore at the most risk of harbouring bacteria – it's very important to keep it clean as well.

As with the television, it's important not to let liquids creep into the crevices of the remote, as not to affect the function of the buttons – though if you want to kill germs on the remote, you'll need more than just a damp cloth. 

We recommend removing the batteries before cleaning – just to be safe – and then lightly applying an alcohol cleaning solution to a cotton wool pad to wipe down the buttons and sides. It's important not to use a water-based solution, as this can damage the electronics within the remote. 

You can wipe down the inside of the battery compartment, too, though this is less necessary.

And that's it! Enjoy your pristine television – and remote – and if you need any more TV guidance, head to our TV size guide, or see how to set up your TV for the perfect picture.

Richer Sounds (opens in new tab) is a UK retailer specializing in Hi-Fi, TV, and home cinema equipment.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist. Before going freelance, he spent more than three years at TechRadar reporting on TVs, projectors and smart speakers as the website's Home Cinema Editor – and has been interviewed live on both BBC World News and Channel News Asia, discussing the future of transport and 4K resolution televisions respectively. As a graduate of English Literature and persistent theatre enthusiast, he'll usually be found forcing Shakespeare puns into his technology articles, which he thinks is what the Bard would have wanted. Bylines also include Edge, T3, and Little White Lies.