Most of us spend a fair bit of time in front of our computer screens, and a fair number of us squint through eyeglasses while doing so. What’s ridiculously frustrating is trying to focus on a screen through greasy, streaky eyeglasses, and even worse when the screen is slathered in smudges as well. Is there a way to solve these problems without pitching both out the window? Yes. Yes, there is.

Let’s tackle eyeglasses first, shall we?

Though this is heralded worldwide as the tried-and-true method for cleaning glasses, it doesn’t always do the trick: if the soap you’re using has any sort of oil or moisturizing lotion in it whatsoever, you’ll end up with a greasy film all over the glass that’s nearly impossible to focus through. Trying to rub it away with a lens cloth or chamois doesn’t work either—it just smears that oil around and makes it worse. There is one kind of soap that works really well for cleaning glasses, though: dish soap. It’s naturally formulated to cut through grease and oil to leave drinking glasses squeaky clean, and it’ll do wonders for your specs as well. All you need to do is wash your hands, put a couple of drops of dish soap on your now-clean fingertip, and use it to wash all around the lenses. Be sure to get around the nose bridge as well: that tends to collect a fair bit of oil too. When you’re finished, rinse them clean with hot water, and dry them off with lint-less fabric such as very clean cotton (like an old tee-shirt or handkerchief), or microfiber cloth: they’re the least likely to shed lint onto your nice, clean glasses.

If every bit of soap you have in the house has oils in it—some dish detergents have “hand-softening” cream, or essential oils in them—then you can also use a bit of white vinegar on a cloth to clean the glasses: vinegar cuts through oil really effectively, and is actually the best cleaner on earth for mirrors and windows. If it can get those clean, it can do the same for your eyeglasses. Just dip some lint-free cloth into a 50/50 mix of distilled water and white vinegar, rub the lenses gently to clean them, and then let them air dry—the liquid will evaporate quickly, leaving the glass streak-free.

Do not use:

  • Windex or other glass cleaners
  • Alcohol-based wipes (they can discolor plastic frames over time)
  • Dryer sheets when washing microfiber cloths (they’ll leave film on them)

So, now that your eyeglasses are nice and sparkly, what can be done about those streaks plaguing your computer screen? Well, there are a couple of different cleaning options depending on the kind of screen you have, i.e. glass computer monitor versus flat LCD screen.

Cleaning a CRT Monitor

You can treat your CRT monitor as you would a mirror or other delicate glass surface, and use that same 50/50 mix of distilled water and white vinegar that you used for your eyeglasses. First, ensure that the monitor is turned off: you’ll be able to see smudges and spots far more easily against the black background. Next, moisten a lint-free cloth with the mixture and wring it out so it doesn’t drip, and wipe your screen in a single direction (as opposed to a back-and-forth motion) until you’ve cleaned the entire surface. Wipe away any moisture with a clean, dry,cloth, or use a hairdryer on its “cool” setting to speed the drying process.

Cleaning an LCD Screen

For a flat LCD screen, you can also use the vinegar/water solution applied with a damp cloth, but many people seem to prefer a rubbing alcohol/water mixture for a streak-free shine.

To use this method, you’ll want to get yourself 90% isopropyl rubbing alcohol and some distilled water, and blend the two of them into a 2:1 ratio solution of water and alcohol (so there’s twice as much water as there is rubbing alcohol). Just like with any other glass, ensure that you use a lint-free piece of fabric to clean it with—any paper-based material (bathroom tissue, paper towels, etc.) will leave dust and paper fibers all over the place, and nobody wants that.

Turn off your monitor or laptop so all the smudges pop out from the black screen, and use the same process with the dampened cloth as for a CRT monitor.

Do not:

  • Spray liquid directly at your screen—always moisten a cloth and use that on the surface instead
  • Press on the screen as you’re cleaning it. You have to be very gentle so you don’t scratch it or damage it accidentally

Once you’ve wiped it down, you can dry it gently with another clean cloth, and you’ll be left with a shiny, streak-free screen you can stare at happily for hours.

Featured photo credit:  A small man cleaning a pair of reading glasses via Shutterstock

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