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How to Clean Your Mac's Display


A Step Away From Glass Cleaner!

Cleaning a Mac screen is an easy process, with only a few don'ts but a lot to consider. We'll be talking specifically about Apple displays, but these cleaning instructions will work for most LCD screens. For general instructions for cleaning LCD screens, Tim Fisher, About the Guide to PC Support, has a great write-up called, aptly enough, How to Clean a Flat Screen Monitor. I highly recommend Tim's guide for a general cleaning guide.


We're going to break down Mac displays into two categories: bare LCD displays and glass LCD displays.


A bare LCD screen isn't exactly bare; they have a plastic screen that protects the underlying LCD components. However, the screen is very flexible and prone to many common cleaning supplies. Some common cleaning products can etch or damage plastic screens; other people can leave streaks that are in most cases worse than the dirt you're trying to remove.


For this reason, you should never clean a bare LCD with anything but a cleaner specifically designed for LCD screens. Or, if you're like me and you don't like spending more money on cleaning supplies than necessary, you can use Tim's recommended cleaning mixture of distilled white vinegar and distilled water. This is perfect for me because we always filter white vinegar in the kitchen for cooking, and the small container of distilled water lasts a long time.


Bare LCD displays are used on many older portable Macs and most third-party desktop monitors.


A glass LCD screen, like the one used in the latest iMacs, is really just a bare LCD screen with a glass panel in front of it. Since the LCD panel is shielded, you might think it's OK to use regular glass cleaner on your iMac. The answer is no, no. Apple recommends distilled water to clean this screen. So far, I haven't come across any dirt, smudges, or cat or dog mold that can't be removed from an iMac with just distilled water. If I have a stubborn spot, I'll try the white vinegar/distilled water combination.


Clean Your Mac Screen

What do you need:

  * 2 microfiber cloths.

  * Distilled water.

  * Distilled white vinegar.

  * About a minute or two of your time.


I recommend two microfiber cloths so you can use one for dry cleaning of the screen, and wet the second with distilled water for stubborn stains. You can use a single microfiber cloth, just being careful to dampen only a small part of it.

 1. Start by using a dry microfiber cloth to gently wipe the screen. Do not press hard on the LCD panel, as this can cause problems with the individual pixels that make up the screen. If you clean the glass panes, you can apply a little more pressure, but you should still do it lightly.

 2. After dry cleaning is complete, check the display for any remaining spots or dirty areas. In most cases, a light cleaning with a microfiber cloth is all that is needed.

 3. If you still have areas that need cleaning, dampen a second microfiber cloth with distilled water and gently return to the areas that are still dirty. Wipe dry with a cloth first, then check the screen.

4. If any dirt remains, use a commercial LCD cleaner or mix your own white vinegar/distilled water mixture. Never use a mixture that is more than 50% vinegar. I have had good results with a mixture that is 25/75 (one part vinegar to three parts water).

 5. Wet a second microfiber cloth in the cleaning mixture, and wipe the display, concentrating on the areas that are still dirty.


 1. Clean the screen with a dry cloth, then check the screen again. It should be clean now, but you can do this again with a damp microfiber cloth if necessary. Make sure to finish with a dry cloth.


Cleaning Behind the Glass LCD Screen of iMac (2011 models or earlier)

It's possible, though unlikely, that the smudges or smudges on the glass pane on your iMac screen are actually on the inner surface. If that's the case, then the best thing to do is take the display to an Apple Store for cleaning. They will pull out the glass panel, clean both the glass surface, as well as the underlying LCD panel, and then close it again.


If you don't have an Apple Store or authorized Apple dealer near you that will do this, you can do it yourself. The glass panels are held with magnets. Not a special glass magnet; only a few magnets are embedded in the glass panels along the edges of the panels. All you need to remove it (pun intended) are a pair of good quality suction cups, a pair of gloves, so you won't leave fingerprints all over the glass, and some large microfiber cloth to place the active pane glass on. You can also use the spun lint that your iMac stored when you first received it.


Before you continue, be aware that removing the glass panel may void your Apple warranty.

 1. Clean the exterior glass surface using the method described above, to ensure a good grip by the suction cup.

 2. Put on gloves. Place a pair of suction cups at the top two corners of the screen. Make sure they are securely fastened to the glass. Interesting little suction cups from an auto supply store will work best. This type of suction cup has a handle that is used to create a vacuum that attaches the suction cup to the glass. This is much better than the general suction cup, which requires you to press it firmly against the glass.

 3. Lift the glass slowly with two suction cups. If you're standing in front of your iMac, raise the glass toward you, allowing the bottom pane of the glass to rotate toward the iMac. Be careful when you lift the glass, as there are several steel guide pins along the top of the iMac. You will have to lift the glass far enough to clean these pins.

 4. Once the glass pane is clear of the steel pins, grab it along the sides with your gloved hand, and lift it free from the iMac.


 1. Place the glass pane on one or more large microfiber cloth or spun fiber cloth.

 2. Clean the inner glass surface using the cleaning steps described above.

 3. Allow the glass to dry completely before replacing the glass pane.

 4. After the glass is dry, use an airbrush or similar device to ensure that there are no dust particles.

 5. Replace the glass panel.


There it is! You should now have a clean, shiny Mac screen.


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