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Many laptop and notebook computers now feature a type of screen called a Thin Film Transistor (TFT) monitor. It is not unusual to find the terms "LCD monitor" and "TFT monitor" used interchangeably by computer experts, but the same basic advice applies to either type of screen. To clean one properly, you should use a lint-free cloth and very gentle pressure. If the screen is very dirty, plain water or water with a small amount of vinegar can be used to clean it, but the liquid should never be sprayed directly on the monitor.
Putting pressure on a TFT monitor can cause permanent damage to the electronically sensitive crystals pressed between two thin sheets of plastic, which makes cleaning it a trickier process than cleaning its glass-encased CRT cousin. It can also draw moisture into itself through capillary action, so spraying a liquid cleaner directly on the screen can also be problematic. Any moisture absorbed through the screen surface will not come out voluntarily, and could ruin the entire display.
To clean a TFT screen properly, it is important to remember you are dealing with plastic, not glass. Traditional glass cleaners usually contain alcohol or ammonia, which is harmless on glass but bad for plastic. Never use household glass cleaners, since the ammonia or alcohol will eventually cause the plastic to turn yellow and degrade.
Instead, many experts suggest using clean water and a lint-free microfiber cloth designed for cleaning optics. A small amount of a weak acid, such as vinegar, could be added to the water if the monitor is heavily contaminated with surface dirt or other substances. The cloth should only be slightly damp, and wiping should be in a vertical/horizontal direction. A dry cloth should be used to remove any trace of moisture. Use a very light touch, and only clean a TFT monitor when the power has been turned off.
Some manufacturers of computer peripherals market cleaners intended specifically for LCD, plasma, or TFT monitors. These cleaners usually contain no ammonia or alcohol, although it pays to read the labels before purchasing any commercial cleaning product. Some cleaning kits contain a spray bottle of solution and optical-grade wiping and drying cloths. One or two sprays of the cleaning solution should be sufficient for routine maintenance, although many experts recommend spraying the cloth, not the monitor. It is still important to use a very light touch when wiping the screen with a commercial cleaner.
Some computer users purchase a glare reduction screen or a Lexan® screen protector to prevent the monitor from getting too dirty. When a laptop or notebook computer is folded for storage, the screen may come into contact with the keyboard and pick up traces of skin oils, dirt, or other contaminants. It might be useful, therefore, to wipe down a portable computer's keyboard before closing the lid. Keeping the monitor out of the reach of young children or inconsiderate co-workers may also help keep it clean as well. Curious people are often tempted to poke at a flat screen monitor, so you may want to take steps to discourage this behavior.