So you got a new HDTV for the Holidays . . .
The flat-screen television has become more than just the “must have” gadget du jour; it has become a mainstay of the modern home. The sharp high-definition images, the environmentally-friendly power consumption, the sleek design, and, of course, the remarkable space savings all progressively make flat screens the definitive center of your home’s communal spaces . We often marvel at our high-tech technology toys without understanding that keeping them clean can also be a high-tech challenge. High Definition television, computer and handheld devices contain screens which bring us a vivid world of crisp and colorful images, but eventually, that amazing view can get tarnished by dust, dirt and fingerprints. The real issue now becomes “how do you clean it?”
Using the wrong cleaning solutions or methods can permanently damage your screen. Here are the reasons why cleaning your screen properly makes a big difference on the picture quality and ultimately the longevity of your viewing investment.
What’s so complicated about a screen!
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Your screen is an integral component of your electronic viewing system. It converts electrical signals to visual pixels through various means depending on the technology powering your screen. Regardless of your television technology, your screen has a constant electrical charge going through it when it is on, creating a magnet-like surface charge which actually attracts dust and dirt particles.
If your screen is an LCD or DLP it has a semi-permeable plastic surface which reacts to any application of liquids, cleaning agents or sometimes even just rubbing it with a cleaning cloth can damage the surface. If yours is a plasma screen, it has an anti-reflective (AR) coating which can be damaged or destroyed by most cleaning chemicals out there.
It’s more than dust!
Sometimes, singles and couples or people who have their sets mounted will only have airborne dust and dirt to contend with. For the rest of us, we have significantly more to deal with including fingerprints, crayons, pizza, peanut butter â€“ you name it! One of the most common mistakes I hear about is the person going for the blue bottle of glass cleaner â€“ or even worse â€“ the all-purpose surface cleaner. These products are full of chemical solvents, which work great for their intended targets, but pack the punch of napalm on those delicate screen surfaces. Just as bad can be the cleaning cloth, which just cleaned the kitchen counter, coffee table, and now heads up to your $3000 flat screen, transferring the chemicals and grime from those other surfaces.
For LCD and DLP screens, the most common first sign of damage to a screen is deterioration or trapped chemicals, oils or liquids in that semi-permeable plastic surface which show up in the form of “ghosts” or “shadow images” in the screen itself. These dark stains often start as light shadows and when you wipe them they don’t come off. The longer a ghost images remains in the screen the more difficult it is to remove and often the damage is permanent requiring replacement of the unit. For plasma screens, damage usually occurs to the AR coating and usually shows up as patches of reflection which can be seen where the coating was rubbed off.
What the manufacturers don’t tell you !
Screen manufacturers play it safe because little research has been done on proper cleaning. Most manufacturers’ instructions provide a general warning and tell you to only use a damp cloth and water. That’s ok for a few dust particles on most screens but it doesn’t address real cleaning needs. In fact, damp cloth dusting is at best a temporary short term solution and certainly does little for the pizza accident. The electronics industry is really into selling screens and would prefer to stay there. This leaves a relatively small selection of aftermarket flat screen cleaners
Most of these aftermarket cleaners are simply isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) and water which, oddly enough, still has the ability to damage all of the aforementioned screens! There is hope, however. One aftermarket brand, Purosol, was specifically developed to address these concerns in product lines originally developed for NASA, national laboratories and the military. Purosol Plasma is an environmentally safe cleaner designed for use on all forms of flat-panel televisions, computer screens and PDA’s. It contains no alcohol, ammonia, or solvents, and instead uses organic plant extracts in combination with state-of-the-art manufacturing to produce a fantastic cleaner that won’t damage your screen. In addition, Purosol Plasma has very strong anti-static properties and actually repels dust, meaning you will have to clean your screen less! Origin Laboratories, LLC, manufacturers of Purosol, publishes a list of Do’s and Don’t about cleaning flat screens:
Do’s and don’ts about cleaning!
1. Use Organic or Green products whenever possible.
2. Do NOT use any cleaners containing alcohol, ammonia, glycerin, or other solvents.
3. Only use a clean, soft, lint-free cloth. Microfiber cloths can be ideal for this purpose as they don’t produce lint. Make sure your cloth has not been used with other cleaning chemicals, as these chemicals may already be embedded in the cloth. Also, when cleaning the cloth, do not use fabric softener when washing, as fabric softener may remain in the cloth afterwards.
4. Only use as much cleaner as needed on the screen. Spray solution on a cloth and wipe in circular motion.
5. If you have a persistent problem, lightly spray the cleaner directly on the screen, waiting about 3-4 seconds before wiping. Do NOT soak the problem area. Multiple light applications are better and safer than a single heavy one. If problems persist, consult your electronics professional.