How to clean a touchscreen: All you need is a simple cleaner and a special cloth

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Barbie asked how to clean an oily “serum” off her laptop’s touchscreen.

Do you always wash your hands before using your laptop, tablet, or smartphone? Neither do I. And the result isn’t pretty. A chemist could probably take samples from my iPad’s screen right now and tell you what I had for breakfast.

Touchscreens need to be cleaned often. They get dirty quicker than non-touch screens, and the dirt interferes with both the visual experience and touch sensitivity.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

You don’t have to buy anything expensive and special. Touch screens may be high-tech, but the job of cleaning them requires only simple tools and elbow grease.

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You will need a microfiber cloth. You may already have one. Perhaps it came with some device. Or your eyeglasses. If not, you can buy them for a few dollars at computer stores, camera stores, and various places online.

Display as white an image on your screen as possible. For instance, you can create a new word processing document and not type anything in it. The white background will make it easier to see the dirt.

Now wipe the screen, applying slight, and only slight, pressure. Try straight wipes horizontally across the screen. If that doesn’t work, try wiping vertically, or using circular motions.

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If the screen is still dirty, you’ll need to prepare my secret screen-cleaning potion. Fill a spray bottle to approximately the halfway point with distilled water. Then fill it the rest of the way with white vinegar. Close the bottle, and shake.

Shut down your computer or device. You don’t want electricity going through it right now.

Spray a bit of the potion onto a microfiber cloth—preferably a clean one. Do not spray directly at the screen. Then wipe as described above.

When you’re done, wipe it again with a clean, dry microfiber cloth—or at least with a clean, dry corner of the cloth you’ve been using. Don’t turn on the device until the screen is dry.

Eventually, you’ll have to clean the cloths. Microfiber Wholesale offers detailed instructions.

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