How to Clean Your Vehicle’s Touchscreen

If you’ve recently purchased a car of any type with a touchscreen infotainment system, it’ll get dirty quickly. Whether you get something on it or smudge it up with fingerprints, it’s essential to clean the screen. Over time, a dirty touchscreen can become less responsive. However, you don’t want to use the wrong product to clean a touchscreen, or it could compromise it, which is a costly repair. Here’s how to properly clean your vehicle’s touchscreen.

The right way to clean your vehicle’s touchscreen

Honda CR-V interior touchscreen | Honda

An infotainment system in a vehicle is usually a Thin Film Transistor Liquid Crystal Display (TFT LCD). This is closely related to a laptop screen or computer monitor. Unfortunately, it also means it uses advanced micro-technology to operate and function with all of your vehicle’s controls. That means it’s coated to minimize glare from the sun and remain sharp and vivid from all angles. According to Get Clean am, here are some best practices for cleaning your vehicle’s touchscreen.

Do not do this

A few things you don’t ever want to use to clean your vehicle’s touchscreen are paper towels or cotton rags. While these things are great for cleaning hard surfaces and some parts of the interior of your vehicle, avoid the touchscreen at all costs. These tools can easily damage the screen, leaving scratches everywhere. Not to mention, paper towels and rags will not lift dirt from the surface of the screen, meaning it’ll be scratched and barely any cleaner. You’ll also leave plenty of lint and paper particles behind on the screen, which might also make it even worse.

Step-by-step: how to clean your vehicle’s touchscreen

A large digital infotainment system touchscreen, how do you clean it?
Digital infotainment system | Daniel Karmann/picture alliance via Getty Images
  1. Firstly, make sure the vehicle isn’t running and the screen is turned off. This will make the screen dark and make dirty spots much easier to see with the naked eye. Additionally, when the vehicle is turned on the pixels are functioning on the screen, and you don’t want to damage one.
  2. Next, get a microfiber cloth, like you’d use for a smartphone, tablet, or eye glasses. The non-abrasive material makes them perfect for sensitive surfaces like a touchscreen needing to be reponsive. It ensures that the physical wipe across the screen will not damage anything, but will remove dirt, dust, and other unwanted particles.
  3. Do not press too hard on the screen, but instead gently wipe it in a circular motion. Just like in The Karate Kid, you’ll want to go from top to bottom making circles as you go.
  4. If there’s something sticky, or other particles not coming off with just the cloth, you might need something stronger. Don’t apply more pressure to get this off and damage the screen. Instead, use an ammonia and alcohol-free screen cleaning solution. Apply the solution to the cloth, then wipe the screen. Don’t spray the cleaning product directly on the screen.

Additional tips for cleaning your vehicle’s touchscreen and infotainment system

2021 Toyota Venza, how to clean your vehicle's touchscreen
2021 Toyota Venza interior | Toyota

Firstly, don’t let the cleaning solution get anywhere it shouldn’t be. Try to avoid anywhere it can seep into cracks or damage something. Don’t let it sit on the screen for too long either, as it’s meant to be wiped off rather quickly. Next, the protective coating on most vehicles’ touchscreens will be damaged by any solutions with alcohol or ammonia. Using products containing these chemicals could be harmful.

Next, owners should not use paper towels, tissues, cotton rags, and other household items to wipe a screen. Microfiber cloths are less abrasive and are the only truly safe way to wipe one of these screens. Additionally, microfiber cloths attract and remove unwanted oils and dust instead of spreading them around.

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Finally, these same methods go for many other pieces of technology using screens and touchscreens. Tablets, phones, camera lenses, eyeglasses, televisions, and more use the same screens and coatings. In conclusion, the same rules apply across the board. Just be sure to treat your vehicle’s touchscreen as gently as you would a smartphone. That’s how to clean your vehicle’s touchscreen properly, safely, and without risk.

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