How to make your HDTV squeaky clean for not much green

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If you own a High Definition TV — or any kind of TV, for that matter — rest assured it will become dirty some point. Before you go after it with the cleaning supplies, you should know how to clean your television without rendering it useless. Some HDTV manufacturers suggest using custom-made cleaners to touch up your display, but these are often just as expensive as they are unnecessary. In fact, if you check the label on most of these so-called “professional” cleaning solutions, you’ll find that the main ingredient is usually just water.

So instead of forking over your hard-earned cash for something that isn’t necessary, we suggest making your own solution using a mixture of water and isopropyl alcohol. This is probably the cheapest solution you can come by, and it works great given the combination is mild and isn’t harmful to your TV. Here’s what to do.

What you’ll need

  • Two pieces of soft, lint-free cloth (preferably microfiber)
  • Distilled water
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Measuring cup
  • Q-tips (optional)

Cleaning the display

The first thing you’ll want to do is turn off your TV and give it a chance to cool down. Wait until it’s no longer warm to the touch before you proceed.

Next, dust the screen to remove any dirt particles and then wipe the screen with a soft, lint-free cloth to remove any residual dust. If you can’t see any visible smudges after you’re done dusting, stop here.

Mix the isopropyl alcohol with water using a measuring cup, ensuring the solution is equal parts water and alcohol. If you don’t have a measuring cup, try using a shot glass to measure quantities before mixing. In any case, just make sure that you’re not overdoing it with the alcohol — the resulting solution shouldn’t be more than half alcohol or it can damage the display.

Dip your cloth into your newly-minted solution and ring it out to remove excess moisture. You want the cleaning cloth to be damp, but not wet. Afterward, gently wipe the damp cloth across your display.

Use the second lint-free cloth to dry your display. Don’t leave any moisture on it, especially before turning the TV back on.

Additional tips

  • If your TV’s bezel makes it difficult to clean the corners and near the edges of the display, use a Q-tip dampened with your solution to get to the hard-to-reach areas.
  • Make sure you’re using the right chemical. Don’t use ethyl alcohol, acetone, toluene, ethyl acid, ammonia, or methyl chloride — only isopropyl alcohol.
  • Always use a clean cloth, as hard particles can get trapped in cloth fibers and leave unwanted scratches.
  • Ensure your cloth is damp. You don’t want drops running down your display with each wipe.
  • Do not use Windex or other glass cleaners! Said solutions generally contain ammonia and will hurt your TV screen.
  • Do not use paper towels; they leave behind tiny bits of paper that can mess up your display.