What's the best way to clean a flat panel monitor?

I heard alcohol somewhere, but I want some ideas from people who have one before I go rubbing various chemicals on my screen.

What types of things do you use, and how effective are they against normal amounts of dust and such?

Flat panel monitors often have a protective film that you can easily damage by using harsh chemicals. They are also delicate to begin with and stuff such as glass cleaners will damage them.

Use a vinegar/water solution to get rid of the grime, and use a soft piece of fabric to keep it dust free.

You could use a few things including Windex. However, in my vast experience, a soft paper towel or cloth with a little water cleans it just fine and without any risk.

You should not use windex or other glass cleaners on lcd screens. It will damage them. Stick to water or water/vinegar solution.

I’d thought about Windex too. Glad I asked first. Thanks. :slight_smile:

The Wetnap-looking screen wipes are IPA soaked towels.

I just checked the user guide for my Viewsonic LCD and it says “no ammonia, no alcohol”. Opinion seems divided on isopropyl alcohol. Some guides will say its OK, some will not. Everybody agrees that ammonia based cleaners are out. Before using isopropyl alcohol, you might want to check the user guide for your monitor. Some commercial screen cleaners are a 50% isopropyl alcohol solution anyway. I happen to have a bottle of “Klear Screen”, which says “Alcohol and Ammonia Free”. It also doesn’t say what IS in it, except that they claim it’s “polymer based”. Heh. I suppose they don’t want to tell you what they actually make the stuff out of or you’ll realize how much they’re overcharging for whatever it is.

If you don’t read anything posted by Eve, you won’t have to.

And if you want to be really really sure, there are specialty products (such as Klear Screen) made specifically for LCD screens.

Many LCDs come with a TAC film on the front of it when you buy it. That is the stretchy flim that you peel off and generally throw away after you set up the monitor.

The film that is adhered to the the front of an LCD monitor is not protective, it’s a polarizer. There is on piece on the front and one on the back. They are not at all delicate as films go. IPA (alcohol) not only can be used on them, they are typically used on them on tens of thousands of LCDs a day in the electronic repair business. Your typical glass cleaner will not damage them either.

India Pale Ale? :wink:

Whatever you do, don’t pay thirty buck for a tiny bottle of solvent. This stuff is almost certainly a very common item that has been repackaged with the price jacked up by a factor of 100. I took a look at their MSDS and it’s over 80% water and the rest “proprietary ingredients.” They even have special formulations for Dell versus Apple. :rolleyes: That should be a clear clue that this shit is rip-off. Virtually all LCD manufacturers get their polarizer films from the same very few sources.

They may be unaffected by isopropyl alcohol, but I wouldn’t call them “not at all delicate”. They are plastic, not glass, and scratch fairly easily.

You are correct, they are polymer and they do scratch easily. That’s why you should use something non-abrasive on a soft cloth. By “not delicate” I meant that they wouldn’t dissolve or something by being in contact with IPA or Windex. I should have been more clear.

I like those microfiber cloths made by 3M. They remove oily fingerprints without chemicals.

When i first wanted to clean my Dell LCD monitor, i went Googling.

And i ran into exactly the same problem that you’re getting in this thread. Everyone’s an expert, and everyone contradicts each other. “Use alcohol.” “Don’t use alcohol.” Windex will ruin your screen." “I use Windex all the time.” “Buy a specialist LCD cleaner.” “Don’t waste your money on expensive cleaners.”

Quite a few websites that seemed to know what they were talking about on computer issues generally recommended isopropyl alcohol, so i went with that. It did the job fine. That was two years ago, and the monitor still looks good and works perfectly except for the one pixel that died a while ago. But i’m pretty sure the dead pixel had nothing to do with my cleaning method.

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s directions. If they say no alcohol or ammonia, take them at their word.

  2. Not all LCD screens are made from the same material. Some are sensistive to alcohol, some aren’t. There is no such thing as one-cleaner-for-all screens.

  3. There are a lot of people who have this “I tried X and it didn’t seem to do anything wrong.” attitude. But of course they are oblivious to damage that others can easily see or won’t know until a year later that the screen is all yellow and/or hazy. Never, ever trust the advice of that ilk.

You do not know what you are talking about.

I am an engineer and I have worked in the LCD industry for three years. All LCD’s are made from two pieces of glass sealed together with LC inside. All LCDs have a piece of polarizer film on the front and back of them that are very close to identical as far as their material chacteristics. Some films are more expensive than others because they have fewer defects but that will be the main difference between them.

Dell, Compaq, Gateway, etc. do not manufacture their own LCDs, they buy them from one of a small number of large manufactuing houses is Asia. They are manufactured according to the compurter company’s specs which are nearly identical to one another and then the appropriate label is stamped on the front. These manufacturing houses buy their polarizer film from one of a small number of Japanese or Korean film makers in large rolls. They get it from whomever is less expensive that week. Any random Dell or Gateway LCD could have any of these manufacturer’s polarizer film on them.

Every single LCD repair house in the world (warrantee or out of warrantee) uses IPA to clean the LCDs before they ship them back to either any of the major electronic shops (such as Best Buy), the computer manufacturer (such as Dell) or direct to the consumer. We are talking about millions of LCDs a year.

I will qualify my remarks very slightly. Some LCDs are used in very specialized applications and will have a coating of some sort on the front of the polarizer. Those coatings could be damaged by cleaning solvents. Your typical flat panel monitor will not.

I just use the Screen Cleaning Wipes they sell at Target. I got a whole dispenser of them right here. They’re sold by a company called Fellowes (http://www.fellowes.com), although I wouldn’t be surprised if others manufacture the same thing. It doesn’t say what they’re wetted with on the tube, other than they’re alcohol-free. It smells vaguely of Windex, though.

This is the product. They work great for me.