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Dirty fingerprints on television, computer, laptop, tablet and phone screens are a bug bear for many, not only looking unpleasant but also harbouring bacteria that may become harmful, thus causing infections. Giving the device a quick wipe over may seem like a simple task, however you could be causing real damage to your flat screen.

Here are our dos and don’ts for screen cleaning:

DON’T spray cleaning fluid directly onto the screen. The materials used to manufacture modern screens (mostly fine and very thin materials) simply won’t withstand the effects of fluid being directly applied. The chances of the liquid completely evaporating are very slim, and there is no doubt that it will leave residual damage.

DON’T use cleaning fluids with an alcohol or ammonia base. Even though glass cleaner may seem the most logical solution, they are often ammonia based and can therefore strip anti-reflective coatings off screens, cause clouding or simply damage the screen. Alcohol based products work to the same effect, so we advise you to always check the content of the fluid.

DON’T use paper towels of cleaning rags used for general purposes. Once again, we re-iterate that modern screens are very delicate/sensitive and therefore abrasive materials like paper towels are not suitable, encouraging damage such as scratching. Similarly, any slight abrasive thing in a cleaning rag is likely to cause scratching.

DO prepare the screen. At a basic level, turn the device off, however we recommend unplugging it completely. In addition, wait until the screen is cool. A warm screen makes it more difficult to clean and can even cause damage.

DO dust the screen. Your aim should be to remove as much from the screen as you can without having to actually touch it. One way is to use a can of compressed air (spraying at least a foot or more away from the screen.) This dislodges the most electrostatically-adhered dust particles. More ideally, we recommend using a simple rubber dusting blub.

DO use a microfiber cloth. Ensuring it is dry and clean, microfiber cloths are the safest tool to use for cleaning screens. Light pressure and wide movements from either left to right or top to bottom provide the best results.

DO use a dampened cloth. For some extra cleaning power, we recommend dampening a microfiber cloth with distilled water, as tap water can leave mineral deposits and a film on the screen. The cloth should be damp when touched, but not so damp that any water can be wrung out of it.

DO use a dampened cloth with distilled water and white vinegar. If the distilled water alone isn’t working at tackling a particularly ardent cleaning task, then use a 50/50 mixture of distilled water and white vinegar. Use the same light pressure and wide movements discussed before, and make sure the microfiber cloth is suitably damp but not so any residue will be left behind.

And that’s all there is to it!