How to clean a TV screen without damaging it to enjoy dust and streak-free viewing

Follow our easy guide on how to clean a TV screen for crystal-clear viewing without causing any damage

A clean tv screen affixed to a wall in a living room, used to illustrate a w&h guide on how to clean a tv screen
(Image credit: Getty / Future)

It’s important to know how to clean a TV screen properly to ensure your home cinema experience is picture-perfect every time.

Think you know how to clean a TV screen? Before you reach for the glass cleaner, think again because same like when cleaning a glass top stove, using the wrong cleaning method could cause permanent damage to your expensive, and arguably most used item of home technology. Or worse, it could invalidate any warranty or insurance that you have on your device. 

Today’s delicate LED/LCD, PLASMA and OLED TVs need some TLC. We ask experts in the world of modern home tech and cleaning for the best methods to clean a TV screen, safely and efficiently.

Close up shot of a living room TV and speakers

(Image credit: Getty Images / Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman)

How to clean a TV screen safely

When it comes to knowing how to clean a TV screen, no matter what type of TV you own, the recommended cleaning method remains the same. "When it comes to keeping your TV in sparkling condition, TV tech makes very little difference to the process," says Dan Brown, operations director at TV manufacturer Mitchell & Brown (opens in new tab)

"The front layer of LCD, LED, OLED, and even QLED TVs is a clear plastic sheet that doesn’t reflect light from your windows quite as badly as older glass screens did. This plastic layer also helps protect the delicate electronics behind it. If you use furniture polishes or household glass cleaners on the screen, you could leave a residue that will build up over time or, worse, damage the plastic of the screen," warns Dan.

Always use a clean microfiber cloth designed for delicate surfaces. "With your TV, you should always use a dry cloth," Says Laura Marsden, marketing manager at Marigold (opens in new tab).

The golden rule to remember is to NEVER spray liquid directly onto the screen. "Using any type of window cleaner, soap, or cleaners with solvents in is an absolute no-go. Not only could it damage the delicate surface, but, any liquid entering the TV may cause a failure, fire, or electric shock," warns Laura. 

With this in mind, grab that clean, dry cloth from under the kitchen sink and follow these steps on how to clean a TV screen to keep it sparkling and streak-free for prime-time viewing. 

1. Switch off and unplug at the main supply

When electricity is involved, it’s important to cut any current flow to the device to ensure a safe cleaning environment – as with cleaning the microwave or descaling the kettle. A switched-off TV also aids the cleaning process because you can see the dust more clearly. 

"Always make sure you clean the TV while it is turned off, as it’s much easier to see dust and remove streaks when the screen is black," advises Sue Caldwell from Clean Living International. (opens in new tab)

2. Wipe the TV frame and base

cleaning a TV screen with cloth

(Image credit: MyJobQuote)

Your television creates heat and static energy so it's a magnet for dead skin cells, fabric fibers, and chemical residues therefore important to factor in when tackling how to get rid of dust in your home.

Before you tackle the TV screen, first gently wipe down the frame as dust can congregate around the edges and on the top. Start from above and work downwards. 

"Clean the body of your TV using a clean microfibre cloth. You can spray a small amount of water onto the cloth (not directly onto the TV) to help remove stubborn marks. Use a dry cloth to remove any excess moisture," says Kevin Walmsley, TV expert at AO.com (opens in new tab).

3. Wipe the screen clean with a dry microfibre cloth

To clean the screen gently wipe the surface with a separate clean and dry, lint-free cloth. Made from microfiber these cloths gently remove dirt, grease, and dust with ease, without the need for chemicals.

"Your TV screen is delicate, so I would always recommend using soft, lint-free microfibre cloths," advises Laura.

4. Concentrate on stubborn marks

If greasy finger marks remain use a pre-moistened electronic screen cleaner (available from online stores that sell electronics) to wipe the affected spot as gently as possible. 

Cleaning expert, Sarah Dempsey at Myjobquote (opens in new tab)suggests lightly dampening your cloth with distilled water. "Ensure you wipe over the TV screen afterward with a dry cloth. You may find using a circular wiping motion works well to remove this type of smudge," she says.

Or, spray specialist solution that is free from alcohol, ammonia, and phosphate, lightly onto the cloth, and gently remove the stain. Never spray liquid directly onto a TV screen. 

5. Finish with a final wipe

Go over the screen one final time with a clean, dry microfiber cloth to ensure it is streak-free and dry of any droplets before you plug the TV back in and enjoy the best feel-good Christmas movies with no screen-related distractions. 

How to clean a plasma TV screen

person cleaning a TV screen with a cleaning cloth

(Image credit: myjobquote.co.uk)

Plasma Screens, while made of glass have an anti-glare coating that can be damaged by traditional cleaning. 

For plasma screens, follow the same dry method as above. 

How to clean a CRT TV Screen

Black and white vintage TV in kitchen

(Image credit: Francisco Andreotti / Unsplash)

CRT stands for Cathode Ray Tube. It’s the technical term for glass screen television sets with glass picture tubes inside them, available before flat screens became popular. 

Although arguably a little dated, traditional TV screens will still offer their best quality when the screen is dust-free and well-polished.

Directions for cleaning a traditional glass TV screen: 

  1. Unplug the television.
  2. Wipe the screen with a dry, lint-free, microfiber cloth to remove dust and particles. 
  3. Dampen the cloth with a glass cleaner. 
  4. In circular motions wipe away dirty areas and stuck particles. 
  5. Using a clean dry microfiber cloth, buff the screen dry

What should you never use to clean a flat TV Screen?

Never spray anything directly onto a TV screen and avoid any cleaning products that contain the following:  

  • Alcohol 
  • Ammonia 
  • Acetone

Many of these chemicals can be found in window cleaners and so should be avoided at all times. 

Never use wood-based wipes such as paper towels as there is a strong possibility these could create permanently visible scratches on the screen.

How often should I clean a TV screen?

There is no one answer to 'how often should you clean your house', or indeed specific items within it as it all depends on use as well as where it's located, but we recommend cleaning your TV weekly. This will keep dust and finger marks from building up and making them harder to remove.

‘Although there are screen cleaning products on the market, it’s best to stick to regular cleaning rather than use these as any damage caused won’t be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty,’ says Sarah Dempsey.

Rachel Homer has been in the interiors publishing industry for over 15 years. Starting as a Style Assistant on Inspirations Magazine, she has since worked for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines and websites. After starting a family, she moved from being a content editor at Ideal Home to be a digital freelancer and hasn’t looked back.