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Can You Use Lens Cleaner on a Monitor? (And Alternatives)

As an owner of several monitors, I’ve recently found myself asking the question, “Can I use lens cleaner on my monitor?” I was frustrated by the lack of clear and concise answers online, so I decided to do some research and testing of my own. I’m here to share what I’ve discovered, and to provide some alternate solutions for cleaning your monitor. In this blog post, I’ll explain the risks associated with using lens cleaner on a monitor and provide some safe and effective alternatives.

Lens cleaner is designed to clean glass surfaces, so most of them contain alcohol, which is harsh on delicate modern screens. Instead, you can use compressed air, blowers, and microfiber clothes dampened with distilled water only.

In the following section, we’ll walk you through a brief look at the best alternatives to lens cleaners and the ideal procedure while cleaning your monitors!

Is Lens Cleaner Suitable for Cleaning Monitors?

Although lens cleaners might seem harmless and fairly effective while cleaning lenses, you shouldn’t use them to clean monitors.

Unlike lenses, monitor screens are either made of plastic or coated with a thin film of plastic that diffracts the white light underneath into pixels, allowing you to view images on the screen. 

If this thin film of plastic is damaged or decomposed, the screen will only display white light instead.

The problem here is that lens cleaners will usually have alcohol in their composition, which can slowly react with the plastic layer and damage it irreversibly, especially if you keep wiping it for a long time.

In addition to lens cleaners, there are other items that you should generally avoid, such as:

  • Windex: This one contains ammonia, which also reacts negatively with the plastic and damages it irreversibly.
  • Soap and Detergents: In addition to being runny and hard to wipe after cleaning, some detergents include chemicals that also react with plastic.
  • Make Removers: They are mostly made of purified water and surfactants. While some of them are completely safe, others can be very harsh, and you don’t want to find out the hard way when there are many alternatives that get the job done.

Best Alternatives to Clean a Monitor

If you want to wipe your monitor clean, here are some of the best options to consider. You might also use them in combination with each other for better results:

  • Dry Wiping with Microfiber Cloth: They’re great at removing dust and debris from smooth screen surfaces as well as the body of the monitor. Don’t use tough paper towels because they can roughen the monitor’s glossy surface.
  • Compressed Air: Ideal for removing dust and debris from hard to reach corners
  • Distilled Water: The safest liquid to use while wiping monitors, although you need very small amounts to barely dampen your microfiber cloth
  • Mini Blower or Vaccum: They’re portable and handy alternatives to compressed air while giving similar results.
  • Vinegar: Vinegar technically doesn’t react with plastic. Yet, you must use it with extreme caution and in very small amounts because it can completely damage your screen if it finds its way into delicate electronics inside.
  • Lysol Wipes: disinfectant wipes in general are safe to use on specific monitors that are covered with glass protective sheets, such as Apple monitors.

Step by Step Guide to Properly Clean Your Monitor

Here’s a brief guide that shows you how to wipe your monitor without harming it in the process:

1. Always Start by Unplugging the Monitor

Avoid electricity while cleaning the monitor to avoid any dangerous accidents. Also, an unplugged monitor allows you to handle it comfortably at various angles while cleaning.

2. Follow Up By Blasting to Remove Most of the Dust

After unplugging your monitor, you should blast it with compressed air or a mini blower to remove most of the dust and debris from corners, plugs, and other hard to reach spots. 

If you’re using a relatively powerful blower, make sure that you hold the monitor so that it doesn’t fall off.

3. Wipe the Monitor Carefully with a Dry Cloth

After removing most of the dust, you’ll need to wipe any lingering dust by hand. For that, you should only use a dry, lint-free microfiber cloth. 

Make sure that the cloth is already clean and soft so that it doesn’t scratch the surface. Also, avoid applying too much pressure while wiping the monitor to avoid dead pixels or damaging the screen.

4. Wet the Cloth with Distilled Water and Keep Wiping

If there are any remaining smudged, add a few drops of water to another clean microfiber cloth so that it’s barely damp, then wipe the smudges without applying too much pressure on the screen. 

5. Allow the Monitor to Air Dry

Once you’re done, allow the screen to dry in the air for a few minutes before you turn it back on and avoid using hairdryers to speed up the process.

Pros

  • Compressed air, blowers, and microfiber clothes dampened with distilled water only are safe and effective alternatives to lens cleaners.
  • Unplugging the monitor ensures safety when cleaning.
  • Microfiber cloths are gentle enough for cleaning monitors.
  • Distilled water is the safest liquid to use on monitors.

Cons

  • Lens cleaners contain alcohol and can damage the plastic layer of the monitor screen.
  • Windex contains ammonia and can damage the plastic layer of the monitor screen.
  • Soap and detergents can be too harsh and contain chemicals that can react with the plastic.
  • Makeup removers can be too harsh and damage the monitor screen.

Wrap Up

This concludes today’s guide about cleaning your monitor. As you can see, lens cleaners are designed only for wiping glass surfaces. 

Since they contain alcohol, you shouldn’t be using them on delicate monitor screens that are covered with thin films of plastic. 

However, you can still use compressed air, blowers, and microfiber cloths dampened with distilled water to keep your monitor squeaky clean!