Can You Use Wipes On Computer Screen?

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by Jack Taylor | Last Updated:  February 10, 2019

People spend more time behind a computer screen today than ever before. We use them hours on end every day, but how do we clean them? Should we use wipes, and if so, what kind of wipes should you use on a computer screen? Does it make a difference if you are using a CRT monitor or an LCD display?

CRT monitors can be cleaned using Windex, but LCD display panels should never be cleaned with alcohol or ammonia-based cleaning fluids. You should only use a microfiber cloth, soap and distilled water, or a mixture of distilled water and white vinegar, but Apple uses iKlear for all of their displays.

When we think of cleaning surfaces, the first thought may be to use Clorox wipes, after all, don’t they get rid of 99.9% of germs?  Yes, they do, but they also contain strong chemicals, usually with alcohol, ammonia, and sodium lauryl sulfate which will actually remove the protective coating on LCD display panels.  We are going to look at a home-remedy solution and a product you can purchase, both of which will do wonders for your computer screen if applied correctly.

What Should I Not Use To Wipe My Computer Monitor?

Before we talk about what cleaning solution should be used to clean your computer screen, we need to talk about what you should and should not use to wipe your computer monitor.

Paper-based products are abrasive and can leave micro-scratches.

You should never use paper towels, tissues or toilet paper, or even general-purpose cleaning rags to clean your computer monitor.  Paper towels are great for wiping up bacon grease, not your computer screen.  Tissues are designed to wipe your nose, and toilet paper is meant for wiping . . . . something other than your computer screen.

On a microscopic level, each of these paper products are abrasive and can leave what I call, micro-scratches.  If you happen to wear eye glasses and have ever used Kleenex or tissue paper to wipe them “clean”, you will see micro-scratches when the light hits them just right.  For this reason, never use paper-based products to clean your computer screen.

Using a general-purpose rag to clean your computer screen is not a good idea either, because by definition, it’s a “general-purpose rag”, meaning that it has been used on other things, and probably has other chemical detergents in the rag itself.  In effect, you would be applying those chemical agents to your computer screen, and we do not want to remove the protective coating on LCD panels.

Can you imagine how upset you would be if you were to use the “general-purpose rag” to clean your brand-new computer screen, and upon wiping it, you were actually scratching your computer monitor?  If a single tiny spec of anything abrasive, such as a tiny sliver of metal from the garage or a single grain of sand from the beach, found its way into the rag . . . well that would not only be upsetting, but could be very costly.

I’m not going to tell you how I know this for a fact, but let’s just say that I “have heard” that this is not a pleasant experience and can make grown men cry . . . out loud.

What Should I Use to Wipe My Computer Monitor?

The only cloth you should use when wiping your computer screen is a microfiber cloth.

I want to say this with emphasis in order to drive my point home. You should only use a microfiber cloth when cleaning your computer screen.  There are no short-cuts, and it does make all the difference.

A microfiber cleaning cloth is one of the greatest inventions off all time.  OK, maybe not of “all time”, but you get the point.  The microfiber cloth will clean your screen without leaving ANY scratches, not even micro-scratches.  On top of that, you honestly will not need to use any cleaning solution for 99% of the time, if you use a microfiber cloth. Now THAT is impressive.

When would you need to use a cleaning solution, (we’ll get to cleaning solutions in a minute)?  Well, if you sneeze on your computer screen without cleaning it right away, or if you touch your screen leaving an oily substance from the Cheese Curls you were eating, then you may want to use a liquid cleaning solution.  But for the most part, you won’t need to, if you make it a practice to clean your computer monitor with a microfiber cloth as needed.

Now, it’s important to note that you do not want to use it every time that you use your computer, but only when you need to.  For example, if you find that someone has touched the screen to your computer, leaving oily finger prints.  You’ll want to use the microfiber cloth.  But if it’s just dust on the screen, try using compressed air, (if you do, don’t shake the can, it’s not spray-paint!).

You can get a 24-pack of Microfiber cloths on Amazon.com for only $12.81.  What are you going to do with 24 microfiber cloths?  You can strategically place them everywhere.  You can bring one to work, you can put one in your bag for your cell phone.  You can put one by your bedside and use it to clean your iPad before watching YouTube videos before you go to bed at night.  You can put another one in the glove compartment of your car.  Heck, you can even give some away.

Just make it a point to only use a microfiber cloth when cleaning any computer screen (desktop or laptop), cell phone, tablet, even a wearable watch.  Doing so will not only clean the device, but will prevent it from the micro-scratches that every other cloth leaves behind.

What Cleaning Solution Can I Use To Clean My CRT Monitor?

CRT screens were the first screens that were used for the personal computer. They phased out in the mid 2000’s, with the introduction of LCD panel displays, and for good reason. CRT screens were much bigger, heavier than the LCD screens that we use today. They were incredibly bulky, and took an enormous amount of real estate on a desk. They also had a horrible refresh rate of 60hz, without the benefit of blue light filters like we have today in LCD display panels, which caused tremendous eye strain. The culmination of all these factors is certainly what brought about the LCD monitors of today.

You CAN use Windex on the old CRT monitors, but NOT on modern LCD computer screens

If, however, you do have an older computer with a CRT monitor that you still use, there are certain things that you should and should not do in the care of your CRT monitor

Because CRT monitors (popular from the mid 1980’s to the mid 2000’s) were made out of glass, they can be cleaned with Windex or other glass cleaners.  To my surprise, Amazon.com sells about 5 or 6 CRT monitors, but they are not common at all, and without purchasing them online, you would have a hard time finding them outside of Craigslist or Ebay.

Be sure not to spray anything on the monitor. That may be how you use Windex or other household cleaners on the windows in your home, but that is not how you clean a CRT monitor.

To clean a CRT monitor, always apply the cleaner you are using to a microfiber cloth, and apply the damp cloth to the screen. Never spray the screen directly and then wipe. If you spray first, the liquid could easily drip down between the glass and the plastic at the bottom of the screen, and as you well know, water and electronics are not the best of friends.

What Should You Use to Clean Your LCD Screen?

LCD screens came out in the mid 2000’s replacing the bulky CRT monitors of the past.  Because they were thin, light, easy to transport and took up very little space on your desk, they were an instant hit.

LCD displays have a special non-glare coating, and because if this, you should NEVER use rubbing alcohol on it, or an ammonia-based cleaner on your LCD screen. That means the following should never be used to clean your LCD display panel:

All of these items were intended for use on everything from kitchen counters to the behind of a baby.  None of these were designed for use on a computer monitor, especially an LCD display panel like that found on your laptop computer.

There are three solutions that I will recommend to you.  Two of them are home remedies, and one is a product that you can purchase.  Keep in mind that they will all work, and I’m not prepared to say that one option works better than the other two.  I will say, however, that the product that I am going to recommend is easier to use, because there is no preparation required.  In other words, you don’t have to mix anything.  You just pick up the spray bottle and spray.

Before we get started, you first need to prepare your screen.  To begin, turn your computer off, (or at least unplug the monitor if using a Desktop computer).

The next thing you are going to want to do is dust your screen.  You can do this with a can of compressed air, and as mentioned earlier, I know the tendency is to shake the can before spraying it, but again, it’s not a can of spray-paint.  In fact, the can will clearly say, “DO NOT SHAKE BEFORE USING”.  If you do use a can of compressed air, just be sure to be at least one good foot to a foot and a half away when using it.  You don’t want to do damage to your screen by being too close.

You Can Use Soap and Distilled Water to Clean Your Computer Screen

This home remedy is by far the easiest and you already have these house-hold remedies in your house, so there is no need to purchase anything.

Assuming you have hand-soap in the house, (liquid or bar soap), you can simply get a plastic container and fill it with distilled water.  If you are using bar soap, just put the bar soap in the distilled water and wash your clean hands in the distilled water until it becomes milky white. You can do the same thing using liquid soap.  The important thing is to get the distilled water milky white.

Obviously, you’re not going to pour the distilled water on your screen. You want to take a corner of your microfiber cloth and dip it in the milky distilled water and then squeeze the microfiber cloth until it won’t drip. You certainly do not want anything to drip from the microfiber cloth when performing this operation.

Take the corner of your damp microfiber cloth and either wipe from side to side or up and down, but do not wipe in circular motions as if you were buffing out a car.  You want to use wide broad sweeping motions when wiping your screen clean.

If you press hard on your LCD screen, you could do some serious damage.

Now this applies to all three remedies, so be sure to get this:  Do not press hard on your LCD screen.  If you do, you could do some serious irrevocable damage to your screen.  Pressing hard on an LCD screen could leave a permanent impression leaving a dark mark in that area of the screen.  So, gently wipe the screen.  If the screen is still not clean, repeat this process until it is thoroughly clean, just be patient, use wide broad passes as you wipe the screen, and don’t press hard.

You Can Use a Mixture of White Vinegar and Distilled Water to Clean Your Computer Screen

This second remedy requires distilled water and white vinegar (household vinegar).  If you are going to buy vinegar, just make sure that it is white vinegar. Now, here’s the trick:  It has to be a mixture of 50% distilled water and 50% white household vinegar.

I know that you may be tempted to cheat and not use white vinegar, because you may not have it lying around the house, and try some other kind of vinegar.  Go to the store and purchase white vinegar, and while you are at the store, pick up a gallon of distilled water.  Don’t cheat and use a bottled water.  Doesn’t count.  If you are going to use this method, get the real stuff.  Makes a difference.

When you get the gallon of distilled water, fill half a spray bottle with distilled water and then fill the other half with white vinegar.  Shake the spray bottle to ensure that it is mixed well.

You can then use this 50/50 mixture to spray part of your microfiber cloth and again, wipe with broad swipes across the screen and then turn your microfiber cloth over and wipe any remaining streaks from your screen.  Your screen will be clean, free from any oily fingerprints or built-up grime that may have accumulated over time.

You Can Use a What Apple Recommends on All of Their LCD Display Panels

Yes, that caught my attention the first time I saw it too.  There is a product called, iKlear, developed exclusively for use with Apple products.  Does that mean that it will not work with other LCD manufacturers?  Definitely not.

It does mean, however, that if this is what Apple Tech Support recommends, and is used by Apple Care, and those who fix your Apple devices at the Genius Bar, it’s definitely good something I’m going to use.  Apple doesn’t recommend any other cleaning solution for any of their products, including their extraordinarily expensive Cinema displays.

I make this recommendation because I use this product. I’m not writing this because I am being compensated in any from Apple or by iKlear.  It’s just the best product out there to clean and protect your LCD panel.  In fact, iKlear boasts that this product is good to use on all of the following:

iKlear recommends that you use it in combination with a microfiber cloth once a week.  It’s not an aerosol can, but rather a spray bottle.  Note that the company, iKlear, only recommends using it once a week.  Why?  Because you don’t need to use it more than that.  Even on an iPad or iPhone that you are constantly touching.  Simply using iKlear once a week, and your microfiber cloth every other time you want to remove those pesky fingerprints.

You use this product the same way that I have already mentioned for the other ways to clean your computer screen.  You moisten a section of your microfiber cloth with 2 or 3 squirts from the iKlear spray bottle, and wipe the screen from left to right, or from top to bottom.  Then with a dry section of the microfiber cloth, polish it completely until the iKlear solution is no longer visible.

iKlear sells an 8 oz bottle of this on Amazon for $9.29 at the time of this writing.  They also sell their iKlear iK-26K Complete Cleaning Kit for $24.88.  The kit comes with all of the following:

After getting the Complete Cleaning Kit, you can always just get the $9.29 8 oz bottle when you run out of supplies from the Complete Cleaning Kit . . . in 3 years 😉

Conclusion

Can you use wipes to clean your computer screen?  In short, no.  Whether you use soap and water, distilled water mixed with white vinegar, or the product endorsed and used by Apple Computers, iKlear, you should always use a microfiber cloth.  If you follow the advice found in this article, your CRT or LCD computer screen will be free of micro-scratches offering you a brilliant display for years to come.


Related Questions

Can you use Lysol or Clorox wipes on a computer screen?
These wipes have chemicals that can harm an LCD screen by removing the protective coating that LCD manufactures use on their LCD display panels.  They can, however, be used on CRT monitors, though they will leave streaks unless wiped dry with a microfiber cloth.

Can you use eyeglass cleaner on computer screens?
LCD displays us an anti-reflective coating that is similar to the coating used for eyeglasses and camera lenses. In a pinch, you *could* use eyeglass cleaner with a clean microfiber cloth, but it is not recommended for regular use because eyeglass can slowly wear away the protective coating.

Jack has been helping people with computers needs for several years, and he loves to help people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective and enjoys freelance writing. In fact, when he's not writing an article or working on his YouTube channel, you might find him binge-watching Suits or formatting his computer . . . again, just for fun. To learn more about Jack, click here.
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