How Do I Clean a Car Touch Screen?

gloved hand cleans a car touch screen with microfiber cloth
How to clean a car touch screen the right way, to completely remove greasy grime while avoiding screen damage that could affect your display.

Car touch screens receive little attention in articles on car cleaning how-tos and tips. Perhaps because touch screens are a relatively new car feature. It’s true that car touch screens are now ubiquitous. Aside from having become a common feature of new cars, touch screens are sensitive. Cleaning a touch screen is not like cleaning other things, or even other car components. You have to be gentle, use a microfiber cloth, and stay away from alcohol-based cleaners.

The car touch screen used as a navigation and audio system is likely to be a Thin Film Transistor Liquid Crystal Display (TFT LCD), similar to the screen of a laptop computer. In addition to the micro-technology it uses to operate, the touch screen has also been coated to minimize glare. This assists the driver see the touch screen display at all times. No glare means the display remains sharp, clear, and vivid for the driver.

Now that we’ve explained the design and purpose of the touch screen, let’s answer the question you may have put to Google: “How do I clean a car touch screen?”

Cleaning Your Car Touch Screen

  1. Turn off the screen—Before you begin cleaning your car’s touch screen, make sure the screen has been turned to “off.” Cleaning your car touch screen while on may cause permanent damage to how pixels appear in your display. Besides, it’s pretty hard to see all the accumulated dirt and dust when your screen is all lit up. Turning it off makes it easy to see the grime.
  2. Use a microfiber cloth—Don’t use any old rag or tissue to clean your screen. Use a microfiber cloth which is designed to clean delicate LCD screens. Microfiber cloths are what you should be using to clean your glasses, smartphone, and laptop screen. It’s the same deal with your car touch screen. A microfiber cloth is non-abrasive and won’t scratch your screen. It will also do a great job of removing dirt from your screen, even though you use it dry.
  3. Take care and be quick—Make sure you don’t get any cleaning fluid or water in any of the ports on your car dashboard. Wipe immediately, and don’t allow cleaning solutions to sit on your screen at length.
  4. Be gentle and use light pressure—Using your microfiber cloth, gently wipe the screen from top to bottom, with a circular motion. This is a case where “elbow-grease” could damage your car touch screen. You do not want to push in and press hard as you wipe. That could damage your screen. Just use a light touch and continue to wipe gently in a circular motion until all the smudges and dirt are gone.
  5. Stay away from alcohol-based cleaners—Alcohol-based cleaners are notorious for damaging the protective coating on touch screens. Don’t use them. Ever.
  6. Use ammonia or screen cleaning solution—Sometimes a dry microfiber cloth just isn’t enough. Especially if you’ve got dirty, greasy build-up on your screen. Here you want to use just a bit of ammonia and/or cleaning solution specially made for screens. Do not use ordinary household or window cleaner. These are a surefire recipe for damaging your car touch screen.

Car touch screens are an amazing technological feat and innovation. They deserve to be treated with care. Cleaning your car touch screen the right way, will preserve its lifetime and keep driver, passengers, and others on the road, that much safer.



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