How to Clean a Projector Screen

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Wondering how to clean a projector screen?

Having a home theater projector setup with a clear screen is the best feeling in the world; crystal clear projections at an enjoyable size. But to keep the experience consistent every time, you’ll need to put the work in so you can connect your Bluetooth speaker, hook up the projector, and enjoy you screen!

Today, we’re going to show you how to clean a projector screen the right way. It’s a delicate procedure you shouldn’t take lightly as you could easily damage the screen.

Before we get to the best way for projector screen cleaning, you’ll need a few things to clean with.

How to clean a projector screen

What Do You Need To Clean a Projector Screen?

Most of the stuff you need you’ll probably already have at home. If not, most of the materials are inexpensive, so you can run to a store to pick them up.

The Essentials

  1. Latex Gloves
  2. Can of Compressed Air
  3. Two Lint-free Microfiber Cloths/Soft Cloth
  4. Dish Soap
  5. Bowl

Additional Supplies

  1. Isopropyl Alcohol
  2. Q-Tips

The Essentials are the supplies you need to have to keep a good projector screen clean. The most important is compressed air, as in most cases, a quick spritz will get rid of most of the dust on your screen.

The rest of the supplies are essential for light rinsing without damaging the screen.

The Additional Supplies listed are dependent on your screen. If it’s very dirty, dusty, and has stains, you’ll need these supplies to try and remove them. This might not be necessary for all screens, so they’re optional.

Before we start the cleaning process, you’ll need to check the type of screen you have.

Some manufacturers have different recommendations, so we’d advise you to check those out on their site or instruction manual. For example, manufacturers such as Da-Lite and Draper do not recommend using masking tape as it could damage the screen.

Otherwise, the cleaning process we mention is a safe, all-around method for basic screen cleaning.

We’ll briefly go through the methods to clean different types of projector screens.

What Projector Screen Type Do You Have?

Coated Projector Screen

Some screens feature a coated finish to enhance reflectiveness or for a higher screen gain. If your projector screen has a coating like the above, we’d recommend only using dry cleaning methods. This includes using compressed air or wiping with a dry rag or foam brush.

This is so you don’t accidentally damage the extra coating on your projection screen.

Follow the steps we’ve outlined without using anything wet like the cleaning solution or alcohol. If this is still not enough, we’d advise you to contact your screen manufacturer or check their site for recommended cleaning methods.

Non-Ambient Light Rejecting Projector Screen

You can follow the steps we mention if you have a standard white, grey, or black projector screen. This is because these types of screens aren’t as complex as ALR screens or coated screens and are more durable.

However, it doesn’t hurt to be careful when cleaning these types of projector screens.

Ambient Light Rejecting Projector Screen (ALR)

Ambient Light Rejecting screens are far more complex and delicate.

It’s designed with microscopic teeth that are positioned to block external light, and only reflect the projector’s light. The teeth are typically designed horizontally, which makes movements going up and down or circular harmful to the display surface.

Before cleaning ALR screens, make sure to check the manufacturer’s manual/website for exact instructions. They usually detail the structure of the entire projector screen and the best way to handle it.

But as a general rule of thumb, use as little physical contact as possible, no circular wiping motions, and dry the screen before storing it.

Steps to Clean A Projector Screen

We’ve detailed a step-by-step process on how to do a projector screen cleaning. However, as a warning, we advise checking with the manufacturer beforehand to ensure the process won’t harm your screen.

Not all screens feature the same material, surface, and coating so you could unknowingly damage your screen.

1. Use a Can of Compressed Air

If your screen is only dusty, a can of compressed air will almost always do the trick. Dust the whole area of the projector screen using compressed air but ensure you’re not spraying too close to the screen. You should keep the spray nozzle at least an inch away from the screen.

Spraying compressed air too close to the screen may damage the reflective surface.

For most premium projectors screens, not home made or DIY, this step is all you’ll need. Premium screens are built to last and require less cleaning over time. But if your screen is still dirty, continue following the next steps.

2. Put on Latex Gloves

To avoid unintentionally dirtying the screen with skin oils or things like lotion or moisturizer on your hands, wear latex gloves. If you wear gloves, you can also prevent scratches on the screen caused by fingernails, cuticles, dry/rough fingertips, or rings.

latex gloves

Projector screens can be scratched by sharp nails so it’s best to take precautions by wearing gloves.

3. Wipe Down the Projector Screen with a Dry Microfiber Cloth

Take a new, soft, clean microfiber cloth and wipe the screen gently in a side-to-side motion while it’s dry. The best option is to have a lint-free microfiber cloth. Any other non-lint-free cloth might leave dust/fibers stuck to the screen.

This will help to get out any residue left on the screen after spraying compressed air.

4. Create a Cleaning Solution with 95% Warm Water & 5% Dish Soap

After you’re done cleaning dust off, you can create a solution to gently rinse the screen. All you need is some water, dish soap, and a large mixing bowl. Create a solution that’s 95% warm water and add in about 5% of dish soap.

However, this isn’t necessary if you don’t see any obvious deep dust or stains on the screen. If your screen is already clean enough, you should be good to go.

5. Dip the Microfiber Cloth in the Cleaning Solution (Do Not Soak)

For additional cleaning, dip a clean microfiber cloth into the cleaning solution of 95% warm water and 5% dish soap. Make sure that you only dip the microfiber so that it is slightly damp.

Avoid soaking the cloth entirely as this can cause damage as well as leave permanent stains on the screen.

6. Gently Wipe the Screen Surface Side-to-Side with Damp Cloth

Use the microfiber cloth dipped in the cleaning solution to gently wipe the screen side-to-side. This is an important step as you could easily damage the screen if you wipe with a circular motion or up-down wiping.

Apply light pressure as you wipe. If you scrub or wipe too hard, you may cause imperfections on the projector screen surface. This makes light from the projector scatter, resulting in worse projector image quality.

7. Dry the Screen Surface with a Dry Cloth

After you’re done wiping the screen with the cleaning solution, pat the surface with a dry microfiber rag. Make sure that no excess water is left on the screen as this could leave permanent stains.

Alternatively, after everything is dried off with a cloth, you can leave the projector screen in direct sunlight. This will help ensure the screen is fully dry. Leaving it in the sun also helps to smoothen out wrinkles and look like a new projector screen.

The sun’s heat will soften the fabric without causing any damage. Don’t leave it in the sun for too long (a couple of hours) and make sure it’s not a rainy day. Even a slight drizzle can ruin the entire screen.

8. Use Isopropyl Alcohol with the Microfiber Cloth (For Stubborn Stains)

If cleaning the projector screen with the cleaning solution is still not enough, you can use rubbing alcohol. This works especially well with vinyl surfaces.

Dip the microfiber cloth slightly in the alcohol without letting the alcohol soak completely. Just a slightly damp rag is sufficient for cleaning. Then proceed to wipe the screen clean in a side-to-side motion.

After wiping down with the alcohol, make sure to dry the affected areas as soon as possible. You can use a dry microfiber cloth to gently pat the screen.

Don’t let the alcohol soak into the screen as it will cause permanent stains. Not all readers need to do this, so gauge how your screen looks up to step 4. Use this method only if necessary.

9. Use a Q-Tip for Small Stains & Delicate Screens

If you only have small stains on your projector screen, or if it’s especially delicate, you can use a Q-tip or cotton swab. Dip the cotton swab in the alcohol and gently wipe in a side-to-side motion.

Use the other end of the Q-tip to dry the spot. This is a great method for removing tough, small stains and spot cleaning. You can do this if cleaning with a microfiber cloth isn’t sufficient for small or tough-to-reach spots.

10. Finish with a Spritz of Compressed Air

After following all the steps, you can finish with a quick spritz of compressed air. This will help dislodge any remaining dust marks on the screen. This will also help clean out any debris left when cleaning with cloths.

It’s an optional step you don’t need to follow, but we found it to be an efficient way to finish off the projector screen upkeep.

Tips for Cleaning Projector Screens

Follow the above-mentioned steps exactly and you should be good to go. But here are some additional tips and tricks to ensure a smooth projector screen cleaning process.

Don’t Use Masking Tape/Tape of Any Kind

Masking tape is one of the methods to clean a projector screen but we wouldn’t recommend it. As mentioned earlier, some manufacturers like Da-Lite advise against wrapping masking tape on your fingers and touching the screen.

This is because you can damage the screen by pulling out/disrupting the screen material.

Even though this is just one manufacturer’s advice, we can assume it’s not a good idea to wrap masking tape around your fingers and touch any projector screen. The steps we’ve mentioned are enough to eradicate any dust and stains on your projector screen.

Don’t Use Abrasive Sponges/Cloths

We also advise against using abrasive sponges and hard cloths of any kind. Even though it seems like a good idea to scrub out stubborn stains with rough sponges, it will ruin the screen.

cleaning cloth

Anything coarser than microfiber is a big no. Some rags are also rough after countless uses. Get a new microfiber cloth from the closest store for the best results.

Don’t Use Any Harsh Chemicals

Besides the small amount of soap and rubbing alcohol, you shouldn’t use any type of harsh chemicals on a projector screen. Even if your projector screen is white, using bleach will eat through the screen quickly.

Even things like window cleaners, laptop/smartphone screen cleaners, and wash cloth detergent can damage a screen. The chemicals in these cleaners are too harsh to be used on a delicate projector screen.

Clean the Back of the Screen

Take a moment to dust off behind the screen every once in a while. You might not see the back of the screen, but dust on the rear can easily transfer to the front if you have retractable projector screens or motorized projector screens.

A quick wipe-down with a damp cloth or a spritz of compressed air should do the trick. You don’t need to clean the rear screen too often, but you should do so once every year.

Always Pat the Screen Dry

Whenever you work with cleaning methods that require liquids, make sure to dry the spot as soon as possible. Use a clean, dry cloth and dab it onto the wet parts of the screen. These wet spots can cause a permanent stain.

Leave water/alcohol soaking in the screen too long and you’ll end up with a stain you can’t remove or damage the screen.


Do Projector Screens Need to be Cleaned?

Projector screens are not perfectly designed to withstand dust, water, and other factors so you need to clean them every once in a while. Cleaning the screen will dislodge any dust buildup, which can make image quality clearer and crisper than before.

Can You Use Magic Erasers on Projector Screens?

No, you cannot use magic erasers or large pencil erasers on a projector screen. Rubbing on the screen with something like an eraser will damage the screen. It can also tear a hole if done roughly, so we’d advise against it.

How Often Do You Need to Clean a Projector Screen?

Premium projectors screen need to be cleaned once every 6 months – 1 year. If your room/house is exceptionally dusty, you can clean it once every 3 months. An easy rule to follow; clean the screen when you can notice dust on it.