Controlling your tablet by touching the screen is the most intuitive thing possible, but it does inevitably lead to fingerprints on the display. Here’s how to clean a tablet screen… and, just as importantly, how not to.
Cloth Not Paper
First off, never use paper towels or napkins to wipe off any kind of screen. Paper is made of shredded wood, and the wood fibers that reman can scratch the display, especially over several years of cleaning.
The best alternative is a lint-free microfiber cloth. Packs of these can be found online for relatively cheap, especially considering they can be re-used multiple times.
In a pinch any cloth will do; just don’t ever use paper.
Most Cleansers and Tablets Don’t Mix
Simply rubbing the screen for a few moments with a dry cloth is enough to remove days of built-up fingerprints. This is the best method, and the one recommended for use 99% of the time.
However, people might want to use more if the screen is smeared with makeup… or mashed potatoes and jelly if a 2-year-old has been using the tablet.
Never use a glass-cleaning product like Windex on a tablet or phone. Some device makers put coatings on the screens to help repel skin oil, and the solvents in cleaning products can strip these coatings off.
There are products on the market specifically for cleaning screens, but one that’s just as good can be made at home. Just mix equal parts rubbing alcohol and distilled water in a spray bottle.
Spray a little bit of your cleanser onto the cloth, not the tablet. And always lay the tablet down flat before applying the moistened cloth to the screen. This will prevent excess liquid from dripping down the display and possibly into a USB or headset port, or a speaker, which can ruin the entire device.
Rub gently; this is glass you’re cleaning not steel. Use a lot of light rubbing rather than a little hard scrubbing.
Pro Tip: This same alcohol/water and lint-free cloth combination can be used to clean eyeglass, sunglasses, and DVDs.
For Extra Credit
The grime that builds up on the tablet’s display is obvious. What is less so is that the whole device is equally dirty. Make an occasional habit of cleaning the entire outer casing with the alcohol-and-water mixture, being very careful to keep anything from dripping into one of the open ports.
A bit of tape applied to the tip of a bent-out paperclip can be used to clean lint out of headset port.