Easy Tips for a Spotless Computer Screen

edited August 2023 in PC Tech

It’s happened to everyone: you see your computer monitor from just the right angle, and all the dust and debris jumps out at you. It can be frustrating, and a bit perplexing: how can a screen possibly get so dirty?

In today’s digital era, however, seeing that devices are essential for all tasks, coming along with you everywhere you go, it’s no wonder that they accumulate so much dirt and grime. But don’t worry: you don’t have to live with a dirty computer screen. Read on to find out the best ways to clean screens without damaging the device.

Why should I clean my computer screen?

One of the primary reasons for cleaning your computer screen or monitor is aesthetic: a screen fogged up by gray dust clouds isn’t very pleasant to look at. It can also impact your productivity by making images and text on the screen more difficult to read and possibly straining for your eyes. In other words, cleaning your computer screen is essential for optimal usage.

But cleanliness and hygiene are also a concern: according to BBC Science Focus, a study in 2008 showed that some keyboards are dirtier than toilet seats, reason enough to be suspicious about the cleanliness of your screen.

How often should I clean my computer screen?

How often you should clean your computer screen depends a lot on two factors: how often you use it and where you use it. If you use your device daily, as many of us do, it’s suggested that you clean your screen, keyboard, and other areas at least weekly.

Someone who often takes their computer out and about will have to disinfect more regularly to combat those germs, while someone whose computer stays on the same desk most of the time might not need to disinfect as frequently. If your computer frequently travels outside of the home with you, you should clean it more often: perhaps two to three times a week.

How to clean your computer screen

So, it’s clear now why cleaning a computer screen is important, but how do you clean a laptop or computer screen without damaging the device?

Computers are fragile devices, which means you have to take care in choosing the materials you use to clean them. But there are a lot of different devices out there, so any general suggestions have to be taken with a grain of salt.

As a general rule, though, there are two major types of computer screens: LCD screens and non-LCD glass-coated screens. LCD screens are typically more sensitive to the effects of cleaning agents than glass-coated screens. Most Windows products do not contain a glass-coated display, which means you should take extra care in cleaning the screen.

In any case, it’s an important first step to consult your manufacturer’s guide: every computer contains different materials, so your manufacturer’s guide can give you the most accurate information regarding your device. You can find guides for the cleaning and maintenance of Acer Chromebooks here.

No matter what device you have, regular glass cleaners found in the cleaning aisle should be avoided: they are not suited for the needs of computer screens. Any products that contain the following ingredients are also not recommended, as they can potentially harm your device:

  • Acetone 
  • Ammonia 
  • Ethyl acid 
  • Ethyl alcohol 
  • Methyl alcohol 
  • Methyl chloride 
  • Toluene

But if you can’t use regular glass cleaner, what should you use?

For dirt and smudges, sometimes a microfiber cloth can do the trick just fine, without any liquid or electronic screen cleaner. Avoid using household items, like cotton T-shirts or blankets, to clean your screen, as they can scratch your screen. Additionally, avoid rubbing in circles: circular motions impose uneven pressure on the screen and could lead to damage. Z-motions or side-to-side swipes are better.

For more stubborn stains, you can use a solution of equal parts warm distilled water and vinegar. Never use water from the tap, as it contains materials that can damage your screen. Keep in mind that you don’t need to wet the entire cloth: a small section will do the job.

If you would like to use a computer cleaner spray or monitor cleaner, just make sure that you spray the computer cleaner spray directly onto the cloth rather than onto the screen, and confirm with your manufacturer’s guide that the product doesn’t contain any ingredients that could harm your device.

Extra caution is necessary when using liquids like monitor cleaners: any liquid that drips off of the screen and into the computer’s internal system can cause serious damage. As a first step, be sure to unplug the computer and turn it off. This not only protects you from any electrical shock, it also turns the screen totally black, allowing you to see more clearly the spots that need most attention.  

Finally, don’t forget to wipe your keyboard and peripherals while you’re cleaning a monitor or laptop screen, as they too can accumulate dust and bacteria.

Disinfecting your device

The previous section talked about how to clean a computer screen: that is, ridding it of excess grime or dust that accumulates and leaves the display looking foggy and unappealing. This section will discuss how to disinfect your device.

By disinfecting your device, you are removing germs and bacteria that can be harmful to your health, a particular concern these days due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In general, you disinfect your devices the same way you clean screens: just by using a microfiber cloth and, optionally, warm distilled water. Unless your device has a glass coating, which most Windows products do not, you should not use a pre-moistened disinfectant wipe: the chemicals are too harsh for the display and can lead to damage. You may also want to use a monitor cleaner specifically designed to kill bacteria, but in that case, you should confirm that the product doesn’t contain any ingredients that might harm your device.

As an extra preventive measure, you can use a laptop or monitor screen protector. These items not only protect your screen against scratches and bumps, they can also act as a first layer of protection against outside bacteria. As a bonus, laptop screen protectors, no matter what the brand or type of screen, can be cleaned using disinfectant wipes: just be careful to wring out the wipe first to remove excess liquid and wipe with a dry cloth afterwards.

Furthermore, if you’re looking for another layer of defense at the device level, check out Acer’s antimicrobial line of products: Acer produces all types of devices, from laptops, tablets, accessories and beyond, that are specifically designed to reduce the growth rate of bacteria on your device.

Matthew is a freelance content writer whose work has previously appeared in well-known language-learning blog Fluent in 3 Months and The Happy Self-Publisher. His creative work has also appeared in Otoliths, CafeLit, and the Eunoia Review. He is currently based in Taipei, Taiwan, where he is studying for a master's degree in Chinese Literature.


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