How to clean your computer screen

monitor cleaning
(Image credit: Future)

Dirt, dust, and fingerprint smudges aren't likely to do any long-term damage to your gaming monitor, but they still suck. Why pay all that money for a nice screen only to have the visual fidelity brought down by smudges and dust. Let's face it, your monitor is filthy—it's time to clean it. 

You might think that cleaning your monitor is easy, and you're right. But you still want to be careful and avoid doing things like just wiping it with the corner of your t-shirt—or even worse, a paper towel. Here are a few do's and don'ts:

How not to damage your monitor

Before we start, let's go over a few big no-no's, as accidentally damaging your monitor is a pricey mistake we want to avoid. Unfortunately, most of your go-to cleaning products are in here, including our PC favourites like isopropyl.

First off, avoid corrosive substances! That means no alcohol- or ammonia-based cleaners (like diluted rubbing alcohol or Windex). These cleaners can damage your screen by stripping anti-reflective coatings, cause clouding, or worse. Monitors have come a long way from the giant glass bulbs of old-school CRT screens, but that means they're a lot more sensitive too. 

Next, be careful what you use to wipe the screen. Paper towels might seem like a good option, but at a microscopic level, they're actually quite abrasive. Ditto to t-shirts or other household rags, which might be harboring a stowaway spec of sand, metal, or something else that could scratch up your display in a single wipe. 

Finally, you never want to spray your cleaning agent directly onto your monitor. Excess liquid runs the risk of pooling in the corner of your screen, seeping in through tiny weak spots and wreaking havoc on the sensitive materials inside. 

Tools to help

With that in mind, here are a list of the tools we do recommend to have on hand while cleaning up your dirty, dirty screen.

cleaning monitor

(Image credit: Future)
  • Microfibre cloth - It's a good idea to have more than one of these as any dirt on the cloth can damage the screen.
  • Compressed air - let's face it, if you want to clean anything on a PC one of these is always good to have on hand.
  • A mini vacuum/blower - If you're sick of buying compressed air you can get one of these pretty cheap. They're not as direct or as powerful but they'll do the job and you can just recharge it instead of needing a new can.
  • Distilled water - Repeat after me, you're not going to use much of this. Just a teeny tiny amount.

How to clean your PC monitor

clean me

(Image credit: Future)

1. Blast it — With those words of warning aside, let's get down to the business of cleaning that monitor. For simple dustings, a blast of compressed air (the same stuff you use to knock dust out of your case fans) should do the trick, possibly followed up by a quick dry wipe-down.

2. Wipe it —As for what you wipe with, microfiber cloth is your best friend. Microfiber is extremely soft (at a microscopic level) and known for attracting dust and absorbing oils. Most importantly, it won't damage your screen. We like these, or these if you want to step up to a more plush option.

Of course, make sure the cloth is clean before you use it, and be particularly careful of any grit getting on the fibers. A single speck of dirt or sand could do more harm than all your careful preparation. Depending on your environment, you might be able to use the same cloth for weeks, or it might need to be swapped out after just a few uses. Keeping it in a safe space free of dust, like its own small box is also a great idea.

monitor cleaning

(Image credit: Future)

3. Wet it —For a little bit of extra cleaning power, slightly dampen your cloth with distilled water (no impurities to cause accidental damage), but not so much that water can be wrung out of it. Remember, we don't want liquid to run down the screen and collect in the edges and corners. If water alone isn't doing the trick, mix a cleaning solution of 50 percent distilled water, 50 percent white household vinegar. Same deal as before—apply liquid to the cloth, not the screen.

When wiping your screen, try to avoid circular motions or buffing a single particular spot. Instead, use light pressure and wide, sweeping motions from side to side or top to bottom. It might seem trivial, but again these are sensitive electronics we're cleaning, and better to be mindful of your technique than buff in a costly repair.

monitor cleaning

(Image credit: Future)

Now sit back, relax and enjoy the cleanest screen you've looked at in a while. Just remember to think of us now and then while you're enjoying your gaming visual experience to its fullest capacity.

Bo Moore

As the former head of PC Gamer's hardware coverage, Bo was in charge of helping readers better understand and use PC hardware. He also headed up the buying guides, picking the best peripherals and components to spend your hard-earned money on. He can usually be found playing Overwatch, Apex Legends, or more likely, with his cats. He is now IGN's resident tech editor and PC hardware expert.