A premium projector screen is the focal point of any home theater. The humongous display dazzles with brilliant colors as it reflects a projector’s light. While a high-end screen can impress for years, just like everything else in life, it’s going to need to be cleaned.

Projector screens collect dust and the oils on your hand (or your kid’s hands) can leave smudges. And who hasn’t thrown popcorn at a terrible movie? A buildup of dust and oils can hurt the reflectiveness and overtime can leave permanent stains.

However, you can’t just throw a projector screen into a washing machine or scrub it with chemicals like you would a window. If you don’t clean it the right way you run the risk of damaging your screen. So how do you clean a projector screen the right way?

WARNING: Follow this guide to cleaning a projector screen carefully since not all screens use the same materials. Before sprucing up your screen be sure to check the user guide for details on what to do or not do. If your screen was custom installed talk to your home theater installer to make sure the material won’t be damaged.

Cleaning a Projector Screen

Cleaning Projector Screen with Soft Cloth

Cleaning your screen the correct way depends on what type of projector screen it is.

Step 1: Dust the screen using a can of compressed air. (This step should be enough for most most cleanings)

Step 2: Use a new dry microfiber cloth and gently wipe the screen. Do Not Scrub

Step 3: Make a mixture of 95% warm water, 5% dish soap

Step 4: Moisten the microfiber cloth but don’t soak it

Step 5: Use light pressure to rub the screen from side to side using the dampened rag

Step 6: If the mild soap and water solution doesn’t work you can try using denatured alcohol with a microfiber cloth

Step 7: After cleaning with the damp rag pat the surface with another towel and dry the screen

Some other guides suggest wrapping masking tape around your fingers and dabbing it on the screen but manufacturers like Draper and Da-Lite do not recommend doing this as it could damage the surface.

Cleaning Ambient Light Rejecting Screens

Because of how Ambient Light Rejecting projector screens work you need to be more careful than with other screens when cleaning. At a microscopic level, the surface of ALR screens is made up of tiny angled teeth that only reflect light coming from the projector. These teeth work great for rooms with high ambient light but can be easily damaged with cleaning.

Avoid touching or wiping the screen as much as possible by using compressed air instead. If you do need to physically wipe the screen clean, some surfaces have a horizontal linear structure so only gently wipe left to right using a soft bristle paintbrush or microfiber cloth. DO NOT scrub up and down or in a circular motion. If need be you can use mild soap and water to remove any stubborn dirt but try to avoid it unless absolutely necessary.

Tips For Cleaning Your Projector Screen

Using Compressed Air to Clean Projector Screen

In general there are a few tips for projector screen cleaning:

  • Compressed air is best – When cleaning the screen it’s best not to touch it. Most higher end projector screens don’t need more than compressed air. Just make sure to hold the can at least an inch away from the screen.
  • Wear gloves – You want to make sure you don’t accidentally get oils from your hands or scratches from your nails while cleaning it.
  • Never Use Abrasive Sponges – A scrubbing sponge or some other hard, scratchy cleaning tool can easily damage the surface.
  • Softer is better – A soft, lint-free microfiber cloth is preferred. And don’t scrub! Soft gentle wipes are the way to go.
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals – Cleaners that contain abrasives, wax, or harsh chemicals can ruin the reflective surface of your screen. If you need to use a detergent to clean your screen (you usually won’t) try a mixture of 95% warm water, 5% dish soap. You can also use denatured alcohol on vinyl surfaces.
  • Don’t let it air dry – Gently pat the screen surface dry to avoid spotting
  • Retractable projector screens – If you have a retractable projector screen make sure to roll it up when not in use to keep dust and grime off it. Never retract the screen into the casing while it’s still wet.
  • Don’t let it wait – If, god-forbid, something splashes on your screen tidy it up right away to prevent stains.

Cleaning Extra Dirty Spots on a Screen

For screens that need that extra power to get clean, don’t use harsh chemicals. Instead you can use denatured alcohol like rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip to clean small spots. Don’t let the alcohol soak into the screen, or else it could leave a permanent stain. Use the other side of the Q-tip to dry the spot right away.

How Often Should You Clean a Projector Screen?

Most premium projectors don’t need to be cleaned very often. So it should hardly be a factor when choosing which projector screen to buy.

High-end screens are manufactured to be as smooth as possible in order to provide the best surface for projection. This prevents most dust and debris from sticking to the screen. It’s typically recommended that you clean your screen every 3 months or if you notice dust on the surface. A more thorough sanitizing can be done once a year but only if needed.

Projector screen upkeep is important to ensure that your projector image remains crystal-clear. Many projector owners focus on regularly cleaning their beamers and hardly pay attention to their display surface. But if you take care of cleaning a projector screen it will offer you incredible visuals for years to come.