Touchscreens collect smudges, dust, dirt, and of course fingerprints. Many of these screens are very sensitive and you need to use care to clean them properly and safely.
Using the wrong products can make your infotainment screen unresponsive. It happens and it can be an expensive lesson to learn.
Let’s dive into the details of how to safely clean your infotainment screen.
How To Clean Car Touch Screen Fingerprints, Oils, Dust, And Dirt
To safely clean your car touch screen, spray an ammonia-free glass cleaner onto a microfiber cloth and gently wipe the surface.
Be sure to use only enough glass cleaner as necessary and avoid wiping in a circular motion.
Wiping in a circular motion can cause static buildup and attract dust.
What Can I Use To Clean The Touch Screen In My Car?
The best products to use to clean a touch screen are an ammonia-free glass cleaning solution and a microfiber cloth.
Ammonia-Free Glass Cleaning Solution
Ammonia can be harsh on non-glass touch screen surfaces and should be avoided. Also, paper towels, newspaper, cotton rags, and other products that you may use to clean glass can leave scratches or damage anti-fingerprint coatings on soft plastic touch screens.
My favorite glass cleaner is Stoner Invisible Glass. I use it on glass, not because it’s ammonia-free, but because it’s amazingly good.
It doesn’t leave streaks and works the first time every time. With ammonia-based products I’m constantly chasing streaks and essentially pushing oils and residue around instead of removing it.
Microfiber is extremely gentle. The individual microfibers are very absorbent and very good at removing contaminants from the surface of your infotainment system display.
Paper towels and cotton fabrics can be surprisingly harsh and highly abrasive on soft plastics. They can leave behind micro scratches in the screen surface and are less effective at removing residue and greasy smudges than microfiber.
I always buy microfiber products from The Rag Company. They use premium-grade microfiber in their products and it is less prone to leaving lint, even on the extremely plush towels and cloths they manufacture.
Microfiber cloths are more capable of protecting your touch screen from scratches caused by wiping dust and dirt from the surface of the touchscreen.
The Diamond Wave Glass Towel is insanely good at making short work of cleaning a touch screen or glass surfaces. Especially when combined with Invisible Glass.
Best Cleaner For Car Touch Screen FingerprintsIn my experience, you can’t beat Stoner Invisible Glass. That said, any ammonia-free glass cleaner should work very well. Ammonia-free glass cleaner is a safer choice for cleaning an infotainment screen. It is more gentle on anti-fingerprint coatings and soft plastics. I’ve also found it to be far more effective at cleaning oils and films from glass surfaces and infotainment system interfaces.
Can You Use Windex On A Car Touch Screen?Windex is a less than ideal choice of cleaning liquid. It can get the job done but it contains ammonia which can be harsh on car touchscreens. I’ve also found it to be less effective at breaking down oils and other residue. I end up chasing streaks around and pushing the oils more than removing them. No matter which glass cleaner you decide to use, don’t spray it on the screen directly. Spray the cleaner on a clean microfiber cloth and then gently wipe the surface.
Can You Use Rubbing Alcohol To Clean A Touch Screen?Undiluted rubbing alcohol is extremely hard on anti-fingerprint coatings and will cause them to break down prematurely. The oleophobic coatings are designed to keep oil on your finger and not on the screen. Most ammonia-free glass cleaners contain rubbing alcohols of some type, although they are diluted and will not be as damaging to anti-fingerprint coatings as undiluted rubbing alcohol.
Can You Use Disinfecting Wipes On Touch Screens?Disinfecting wipes are a less than ideal product to use on your touch screen. Most disinfecting wipes contain harsh chemicals and the wipe material is prone to causing micro scratches on the touch screen surface. Like with rubbing alcohol, disinfecting wipes can dissolve the oleophobic coating that is designed to prevent fingerprints and smudges on your touch screen.
How To Clean The Touchscreen In Your Car - Step By Step
- Using an ammonia-free glass cleaner, lightly spray onto a microfiber cloth
- Gently wipe your microfiber cloth back and forth across your touch screen surface
- Avoid circular motions which can cause static buildup and attract dust
- Lightly buff with a dry cloth if necessary although ammonia-free glass cleaners should evaporate quickly and not require drying
- Avoid excess moisture on your touchscreen to prevent the possibility of damaging electronics
Car Touch Screen Not Working After Cleaning?
The most common culprits of a touch screen becoming unresponsive after cleaning are excessive use of an ammonia-based glass cleaner that has damaged or shorted the sensitive touchscreen. The other possibility is simple static buildup on the screen that prevents the sensing of touch inputs.
Try wiping lightly with a microfiber cloth up and down or left to right, avoiding wiping in circles which can cause static charge to build up on the touchscreen. This will hopefully help discharge any static and absorb any residual liquids on the screen or in crevices.
You may also want to try using compressed air to blow out excess water that may have become trapped in the gaps around the edges of the screen.
How Do I Prevent Fingerprints On My Car Screen?
It’s extremely difficult to avoid fingerprints on your car touchscreen surface since you obviously have to physically touch it to use it.
You can try to keep your hands clean and free of oils, but there will likely come a day when you’re eating those delicious fries in the car that you promised yourself you wouldn’t eat, especially in your clean ride, and touch your screen without thinking about the fry grease on your fingertips.
Even if you’re a perfectionist, you will find that finger prints are building up more frequently as your car or truck ages, the oleophobic coating that was applied when the screen was manufactured will eventually begin to wear away.
A potential way to resolve this is to purchase a screen protector to apply over the surface of your dashboard screen. Some protectors will have an anti-fingerprint coating that will help restore the infotainment system screen’s ability to repel body oils which cause finger prints to occur.
How Do I Protect My Car's Infotainment Screen?
Aftermarket manufacturers product screen protectors for almost every car touchscreen to help prevent scratches. You should have no trouble finding a protector that fits your car or truck infotainment system.
Additionally, they can be easily replaced if you ever end up accidentally damaging the screen protector.
These protective shields are excellent protection at a very affordable price. More inexpensive options are made of an inexpensive plastic film while more premium options are made of glass.
Infotainment screens will collect finger prints, dust, body oils, fast food grease, and dirt over time. It’s a fact of life. We are greasy, oily, and dirty and the things we interact with show the results.
Try to keep your hands clean when you use your touchscreen and consider the purchase of a screen protector.
When it’s time to wipe the dirt and oils off the surface of your screen, use an ammonia-free glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth to ensure that you don’t do more harm than good.
Good luck and happy detailing.