Flat-Screen TVs: How to Clear the Picture 

Flat-screen TVs are essentials in most homes. Whether you have a weekly family movie night or just enjoy binge-watching your favorite shows, chances are your television sees a lot of action, so give it its cleaning due. 

Cleaning your flat-screen TV doesn't require any expensive specialty cleaners. But using the wrong methods or products can void any warranty still in effect. With a few tools and products, it's a cinch to keep your television screen and its assorted components and accessories clean and dust-free. 

Television screens should get some attention weekly for clear picture quality and the best performance. Here's how to clean your TV and its essential components in five easy steps.

Cleaning Flat-Screen TVs in 5 Steps

Your first (and last) thought is probably that layer of dust on the screen.

When it comes to your entertainment center - whether it's a part of the living room or a whole basement dedicated to TV, gadgets, and gaming - it's essential to go beyond the screen to keep everything clean if you want your expensive equipment to last longer.

There are some TV components that, when layered in dust, can affect how well your device works (or doesn't) - like the vents that prevent overheating. 

1.  Dust the Surface

Before you begin, turn off or unplug your TV. A dark screen makes it easier to spot surface dust.

Use a static-cling duster or microfiber cloth to dust front to back and along the buttons. Don't forget the top, side, and corners. (Some new televisions come with a cleaning cloth.)

If yours is an LCD, make sure you press gently when wiping, as the liquid crystal may get pushed down if you're too vigorous in your cleaning efforts. This can create dark spots. If this should happen, turn it off and on again to fix it. 

2.  Check Vents

Make sure the vents are dust-free so that heat can easily escape. On most LCD flat-screen TVs, the vents are at the back. The vents may be on the sides and the back on older TVs. 

To get the dust out of the vent, put an attachment on your vacuum cleaner and let the vacuum do the dirty work. A duster works for more frequent cleaning, but vacuum at least monthly to ensure you get the dust inside the TV.

3.  Clean Ports 

Clear Those Cords

While you're at it, don't forget the tangle of electrical cords usually hidden in some nearby dark corner collecting dust. Even if you no longer have cable, cords and cables still gather dust on or around most TVs. 

Anything you can do to keep the air dust-free is going to help your television's performance, so go ahead and wipe away the dust collecting on all those cords as long as you're there. A long-handled duster comes in handy for these hard-to-reach areas.

Ports are where you connect things like HDMI cables, TV-streaming sticks, gaming systems, speakers, and more.

If these ports get filled with dust, your TV could have difficulty connecting to external devices. 

You'll usually find ports on the back, sides, or sometimes beneath or above the TV screen. Instead of reaching for the vacuum here, grab a can of compressed air.

When using compressed air, remember not to shake the container and never stick the nozzle inside your TV ports, as the nozzle can damage the sensitive pins in your TV.

Hold the nozzle outside the port about an inch away, and spray at an angle so that the air doesn't push dust or debris farther inward.

4.  Clean Surface Spots

To remove fingerprints, lightly dampen a clean microfiber cloth with distilled water and gently wipe the grungy surface in circles. Remember to clean the hard-to-reach spots, such as spaces around the TV buttons.

For stubborn fingerprints or other resistant grime, lightly spray a microfiber cloth with electronic cleaning spray and wipe clean. Soak up any remaining moisture with a cloth.

5.  Let Dry

Allow all pets of the TV to thoroughly air-dry before switching it back on. For best cleaning results:

  • Do not use an abrasive cloth or window cleaner on electronic screens.  It could damage the oleophobic coating or scratch the surface.
  • Use a light touch cleaning flat-screen TVs. Vigorous scrubbing can cause the screen to crack.
  • Apply a screen cleaner to the microfiber cloth, not the television. Use the dampened cloth to wipe the screen gently, and then use a clean area to buff the surface dry. Never spray any cleaner, including plain water, directly onto any flat-screen television. Excessive moisture can permanently damage your screen. 

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