Keep your tablet screens clean with this handy DIY method

Jack Wallen shows you how to help prevent fingerprints, smears, and smudges on your tablet screen.

If you're an admin in a company that deploys tablets to users, you know that they're typically returned with grimy fingerprints and smudges — or you've grown accustomed to users complaining about the smeary screens. Well, I have a nearly foolproof way of preventing streaks and fingerprints on end-user tablets. Not only will it save you the headache of hearing about this issue, it'll lower the amount of time you have to spend cleaning screens when they're returned.

Now, I'll preface this by saying that the obvious method to protect tablets is to purchase screen protectors. They won't keep smudges and greasy fingerprints from making their way onto the screen, but they help prevent scratches. And when the tablets are returned to you, all you have to do is peel off the protector and replace it. Of course, that can get expensive, and everyone knows how much a pain screen protectors are to get "just right."

Two additional notes:

  • This method works for both resistive and capacitive screens
  • Do NOT use this method if you have a screen protector on your device

Here's what you'll need (this can all be purchased at your friendly neighborhood Target store):

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Rain-X (the basic kind, not one of the specialty formulas)
  • A little water

That's it. As for the microfiber cloth, make sure you purchase the best one your local store has to offer. I would highly recommend testing the cloth on an old smartphone (if you have a non-functioning iPhone or Android device lying around) or even an old pair of glasses. The key is that the cloth should actually do a good job of removing both smudges AND dust.

With everything ready, let's list out the steps. It's important that you don't skip any of these, otherwise it really won't work. Also, make sure to use extreme caution, at all points, when liquid is used. Do not soak the cloths such that liquid can make its way into any possible breaks in the casing or buttons of the tablet. There is no specific formula for this — just err on the side of caution.

  1. Completely clean the tablet screen with a corner of the microfiber cloth and just a little bit of water.
  2. Completely clean the tablet screen again. The screen must be out of the box perfect or this will not work.
  3. Check the screen from different angles and in different light. You need to make sure there are zero spots, smudges, or dust on the screen.
  4. If you find anything on the screen, repeat step one again! Take the tablet outside and check it in the sun. Make sure this baby is perfect.
  5. Apply Rain-X to a wet corner of a clean, soft cotton cloth.
  6. Using a very gentle swirling motion, apply the Rain-X to the entire screen. At first, the Rain-X will bead up, but this is normal. Continue to swirl the product onto the glass for about twenty to thirty seconds, until it starts drying to form a uniform, hazy coating.
  7. Wet one corner of your microfiber cloth again, getting it damp (not dripping), and buff off the hazy coating.
  8. Once most of the haze is removed, switch to the dry end of the microfiber cloth and buff the glass again to make sure it's completely clear of haze and moisture.
  9. Check the glass under bright lighting (and multiple viewing angles) for missed areas. If you find any missed areas, either re-buff or re-apply the Rain-X and go again.

You should notice far less fingerprints, smears, and smudges on your screen. Those marks that do find their way to the glass should wipe off far easier than they would without using this method.

This isn't a perfect solution, but anything and everything you can do to prevent the build-up of smudges and fingerprints will go a long way to keep end users from complaining and you from spending more time than necessary cleaning equipment. Give this little DIY trick a try, and see if makes a difference for your company's tablets.


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website

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