8 Myths and Facts about Properly cleaning a Laptop / LCD Display

Laptop screens like to attract lots of dust, dirt, fingerprints and other kinds of grime. So, how do you keep them clean? Should you just use any old cleaner or something special? What about the cloth? Paper towel or fancy wipe? Sure there’s people out there who swear they’ve used just about anything and their screen is just fine.. But do you really trust in that? Let’s examine the myths, legends and even the proper Apple recommended way to clean an LCD screen and get your laptop looking like new again.

1. You can use Windex / Glass Cleaner to clean the screen.

MYTH. LCD displays are not made from glass. In fact, they are made from special plastics with a coating that glass cleaner will eat away at. Using Windex is known to result in a cloudy / blotchy screen. Avoid using it!

2. You must avoid using a cleaner with Ammonia.

FACT. Cleaners containing ammonia, ethyl alcohol, acetone, toluene, ethyl acid, or methyl chloride will destroy an LCD display. All of these chemicals will destroy the plastics that make up an LCD display

3. Forget cleaners, just use only water to clean an LCD screen.

FACT. Surprise! Apple actually recommends that you use plain old water to clean your screen. Don’t believe me? Here’s the official support page. This is the simplest solution to a dirty display.

4. You have to buy a special LCD screen cleaner.

MYTH. As you can see from the last paragraph, you really don’t need an LCD cleaning solution unless your screen is soiled by a seriously stubborn stain. Even then, depending on what the stain is, it may not work. If you do decide you need a special cleaner, Apple recommends iKlear by Klear Screen. You can find it at a local Apple Store or at Amazon.

5. You can create your own cleaner.

FACT. Most LCD friendly solutions are made from a solution of 48% Isopropyl Alcohol and Distilled Water. You can buy 90% Isopropyl Alcohol at a drug store and mix it 50/50 with distilled water in a spray bottle. wikiHow has a nice tutorial on how to make this solution.

Note: Read the label! Make sure it is not rubbing alcohol.

6. You may use a paper towel to clean the screen.

MYTH. Paper towels contain harsh fibers that are likely to scratch your LCD display. Do not use them.

7. You should use a microfiber cloth for cleaning the screen.

FACT. Microfiber or eyeglass / camera lens cleaning cloth will clean your display without scratching it. In fact, most of the smudges on my MacBookPro can be cleaned with a gentle microfiber cloth wipe. I’ve seen many of the new Apple laptops and iMacs come with a black microfiber cloth for cleaning the screen. Use this if it came with your Mac.

8. Spray the cloth, not the screen.

FACT. You should never spray anything directly onto an LCD display. If allowed to drip down into the sides, it may damage your display either by shorting it out or getting trapped between the layers of the screen. This is expensive to fix and is not covered under warranty. Spray the cloth so it is moist but not dripping and then wipe the screen.

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