Upgrade Your Life

Worst Ways to Clean Your TV

Becky Worley
Upgrade Your Life

You've invested hundreds — maybe thousands — of dollars in your TV. So how should you clean the screen without risking ruining it? The Internet is full of ideas and ads touting the best products. I searched "How to clean a flat screen TV" and found a crazy set of suggested cleaning methods. So I sacrificed an LCD in order to put seven supposed solutions to the test.

The Test
Since most often, I find myself cleaning off kids' fingerprints, I first mixed up a concoction to simulate what they might have on their hands — cream cheese, sunscreen, and peanut butter. Next, I had the questionable pleasure of smearing this mess all over the screen (which I did while the kids were out of the house — gotta be careful what I role-model).

I unplugged the TV for safety, then tested each product in turn:

1. Windex: I was nervous about using anything with ammonia, but it didn't seem to do any damage. On the other hand, it left a streaky residue. Just like when you clean your windows, the product isn't perfect.

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2. Alcohol and Water: I like the idea of alcohol, because it should evaporate without leaving a mark. And in fact, the results were pretty good — at least with a soft rag. So next, I took the opportunity to test the same cleaner with a different cloth…

3. Alcohol and Water and Paper Towel: Disaster! Not only did the paper towel shed fibers on the screen, it streaked the screen so badly, I thought I might have permanently scratched it. Sure, some TV glass is more durable than others, but a scratched screen is something you definitely don't want to risk.

4. Furniture Polish: This is not something I would have ever tried had I not read it on line… And sure enough — the result was major streaks along with a cloudy residue.

5. Water and Vinegar: At first, this didn't seem to cut the grease, but once I buffed it out, this combo really worked. For a low-budget solution a product you might already have on hand, this does an admirable job.

6. Antistatic Cleaning Wipes: These come pre-moistened and are supposedly formulated specifically for cleaning TVs and electronics screens. Yeah, well, maybe they're designed just to deal with the dust that is naturally attracted to electronic screens, and their makers didn't foresee cream cheese. That could excuse the major streaks that remained after trying these wipes, but it doesn't excuse the hairy particles the cloth itself left behind.

7. Screen Guard and Microfiber: Of all the solutions I tried, Screen Guard was the most expensive; at $20, it's more than twice as pricey as the antistatic wipes — which may make many shy away. But the result? Perfection. No residue, no streaks, no fibers. In fact, after the test, I used this method to clean the entire screen of the mess left by all the other contenders. Bottom line: if you've spent hundreds or thousands on a TV, $20 on the right cleaner seems like a smart investment.

Related: Best Way to Get Rid of Rotten Sponge Smell

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