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task master

What's the best way to clean laptop and TV screens without damaging them?

First, put that furniture polish away, says Laura de Barra.

Despite the fact that screens dominate many hours in our days, we rarely think about cleaning them – let alone how to do that safely and effectively. If your TV, laptop or tablet screen is looking dusty or smudged, it might be time for this simple how-to on getting them clean (and bacteria-free – particularly important for touchscreens).

Every fortnight, Laura de Barra brings her lifestyle and home maintenance expertise to the Glenveagh Home Magazine on – and this week she’s sharing her advice for transforming kitchen cabinets without gutting the whole space.

Most modern screens are actually very delicate, which means regular light dusting is better for them than a big scrub.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started: 

1. The instruction manual: Each TV, desktop, tablet and laptop screen may have different advice for cleaning according to the manufacturer. This is mainly due to what the screen is made of. Always check your manual to see their advice for the best and safest way to clean the screen. If you don’t have the manual or can’t find it, they are usually be available to download online. Manufacturers also typically have a section on their websites with care advice for their products.

2. A microfibre cloth, like the one that comes with glasses: Grab a soft cloth like a microfibre cloth. Most manufacturers will advise that certain liquid cleaning products are not safe due to the screen’s finish, so this means cleaning wipes are a no-go as well. But of course, we should be avoiding wipes for the sake of the environment anyway, so this is grand! Wipes can also be too coarse and possibly scratch your screen. The best kind of microfibre cloths are be the larger versions of those that come with eyeglasses. These are the perfect density to lift dust and fingerprints with the lightest of pressure. 

3. Screen cleaner or distilled water: If your screen has a lot of oily fingerprints that won’t come off with a light wipe, it’s best to use the cleaning product that came with the device, or one that has been recommended by the manufacturer. Some screens have a coating that can’t handle shop-bought cleaners. Anything that contains chemicals like acetone, ammonia, ethyl chloride or ethyl alcohol will do some serious damage to modern screens, so avoid these!

A cleaning mix of half vinegar/half water is often suggested for removing stubborn stains on other items, but in this case, distilled water is a better bet (you can find this online, in a hardware store or in a large supermarket). Even tap water can have minerals present that will actually do more damage than good to your screens. 

These are the must do’s:

  • It’s easier to see dust and marks when the television is off, but you’ll also want to unplug the TV or device so as not to get an electric shock. Never clean your device’s screen when it’s on or on standby. 
  • Most modern TVs are now LCD or plasma and it’s best if you dry clean them, so a dust down with your microfibre cloth will be fine. 

shutterstock_487590499 Shutterstock / wee_J Shutterstock / wee_J / wee_J

  • Wipe down the frame first, then very gently wipe the screen. These screens are very fragile and need to be handled correctly.
  • A hoover on the lowest setting can easily remove dust from any vents on your device. 

But watch out for these don’t's:

  • You shouldn’t touch the screen when pixels are at work, as this can cause them to stick or break entirely – always wait until the TV has cooled completely.
  • Never apply a liquid to a TV that is plugged in, this can lead to an electric shock. 
  • Never press down on the screen when you are cleaning it, a light wipe to lift dust is perfect. More stubborn stains will lift with the correct cleaner and, as mentioned above, you might have one that came with your device. Otherwise, find one that’s recommended by the manufacturer. 
  • Never use tissue or kitchen towel. These can actually scratch the surface as they are quite coarse. 
  • As tempting as it may be, don’t use a window cleaner! I remember always using furniture polish (THE cleaning product of Irish households during the 90s) or window cleaner when I was younger, but back then most TVs had a glass screen so they could be treated like any other surface. Nowadays, modern screens like LCD and plasma will have an anti-glare coating or special finish that these products will damage over time or make cloudy.
  • Never apply or spray any product on the screen as it could drip in to the electrical system and cause damage – as well as damaging the screen itself. If you are using a screen cleaning product, apply it to your cloth first and then wipe it over the screen. 

Follow @lauradebarra on Instagram for more pro cleaning and lifestyle tips (and plenty of other fabulousness too).

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