Cleaning your projector screen is essential for a clear and undistorted image. Since projectors can provide a screen size of 100 inches or more, some prefer them over televisions. However, projector screens catch dirt and dust, so you need to clean them from time to time.
There are various methods for cleaning projector screens. You can use compressed air to remove dust. If there is hard-to-remove dirt, you can use warm water mixed with dish soap. But never scrub your projector screen. Instead, use a microfiber cloth.
Also read: How to Get Wrinkles Out of a Projection Screen
It is essential to clean your projector screen from time to time. However, it is equally important that you know proper maintenance to keep its like-new look.
The Right Way of Cleaning Your Projector Screen
People contemplate whether they should use an OLED TV or a projector for their home theater. If you cannot decide which one you will get, then take a look at Projector Vs. OLED TV: A Comparison.
But if you already have a projector, you should know how to take care of its screen.
As time pass by, your projector screen will acquire oils and dust. Such will leave smears and smudges that can affect the resolution of whatever you are watching. If left for too long, those dust, oil, and dirt will leave permanent stains.
Moreover, cleaning a projector screen is not as easy as putting it in your dishwasher. Additionally, you cannot hard scrub it using a detergent soap. Projector screens are delicate, so you have to be gentle when cleaning them.
In most cases, washing away smudges on your projector screen will require you to have:
- A bowl
- Lint-free cotton or microfiber cloths
- A pair of latex gloves
- Dish soap
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Cotton swabs
- Masking tape
Sometimes, a water and dish soap solution will not be enough. In that case, you will need:
- Canned air
- All-purpose surface cleaner
- Foam brushes
- Large pencil erasers
1. Start with the dirt that is easy to clean
One important thing that you need to remember when handling projector screens is always to use latex gloves. Using your bare hands can leave dirt and fingerprints on the reflective surface, making it even harder to clean than it already is.
To start with the cleaning process, get your microfiber cloth or compressed air. Using the cloth, gently wipe the screen in either an up or down or left or right motion in short segments.
It is important to note that wiping the projector screen in circular motion is not ideal. The reason is that circular wiping can damage the construction of the screen’s reflective surface.
Meanwhile, if you prefer using compressed air to remove and loosen dust particles, make sure that you are only using short bursts. Additionally, you should keep the spray nozzle at least one inch away from the screen.
Once done, check if the entire screen has no dust particles left. But if you think you need to clean it further, you need to use the masking tape.
2. Remove the dust particles stuck to your screen.
Check if there are dust particles stuck on your projector screen. If you see some, wrap the middle of your hand with masking tape with the adhesive side facing out.
Alternatively, you can use a foam brush with masking tape wrapped around it.
Dab the tape on the dirt, stuck it on your screen, and see if it will stick to the tape. Ensure that the masking tape is not touching the screen surface to ensure that you will not create small damaged areas.
3. Use a damp microfiber cloth for smudges that are hard to remove
Some dirt is hard to remove. Cleaning oil smudges, for instance, will require you to use a clean damp cloth and cleaning solution.
Get your bowl and fill it with warm water. Next, add a small amount of dish soap. The solution should be approximately 5 percent dish soap and 95 percent water.
Moreover, you can also use a surface cleaning solution like Formula 409. However, do not spray it directly on the projector screen.
To use a surface cleaning solution, you need to dilute it first. Once the cleaning solution is ready, get your cotton or microfiber cloth and dip it in. Finally, gently wipe the smudges on your projector screen.
As mentioned, always wipe with an up or down or left and right motion to not damage the projector screen.
In addition, you need to make sure that water will not collect or run down the screen. If it does, it will leave a permanent stain that can negatively affect the resolution of the projected images.
If such happens, grab dry lint-free cotton or microfiber cloth and dab it on the water that dripped down the screen.
4. Dry up your projector screen
Once complete with wiping out the projector screen with a damp cloth, the next thing you need to do is to pat it dry. Get a clean and dry cloth and gently wipe the screen dry in an upward and downward or left and dry motion.
After drying the screen, see if you were able to remove all the dirt altogether. If not, there is one more process that you can do.
5. Use cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the remaining dirt
Dip one end of the cotton swab to your isopropyl alcohol. Leave the other end dry as you will use it to dry the area that you cleaned.
Find the spot where there is a smudge of dirt left and gently dab the wet end of the cotton swab to it. Quickly wipe the area using the dry end of the cotton swab. Remember not to leave the area too damp as the alcohol can stain the projector screen permanently.
After going through all of the cleaning processes, your projector screen should be free from any dust buildup of dirt and smudges. You can also repeat any of the procedures if you see remaining stains on the screen.
Making Your Projector Screen Look Brand New
There are different types of projector screens. Some screens are portable, some have a pull-down style, while others are mounted type.
But if there is one thing that is the same in all of them, it is the fact that they consist of white and flexible fabric.
The cloth used for making projector screens is prone to wrinkles. Such can distort the image projected on it. For this reason, it is vital to remove those wrinkles to make your screen brand new-looking.
With proper maintenance, you will be able to keep your projector screen free from any wrinkles.
Below is an effective process to remove wrinkles on projector screens:
Place the projector screen out in the sun
Before taking your screen out, make sure that you have something where you can put it on. A clean table will be ideal for this process.
Place the wrinkled screen somewhere where it receives direct sunlight. The heat of the sun will gently soften the fabric without damaging or burning it.
Rub the back of the screen’s wrinkled area
Now that your projector screen is soft, reverse its position with the backside facing up. Again, make sure that you are doing this on a clean, smooth surface. Such is to ensure that there will not be any stains on the screen after the process.
Use your fingertips to rub the backside of the screen’s wrinkled area. Since the fabric is already soft, you will be able to manage it easily.
It is worth noting that you should never rub the front surface of the projector screen. If you do, the friction may scratch or damage the screen’s delicate reflective surface. After some time, the wrinkles should be gone.
Finally, take your projector screen back into your home theater. By then, it will look new and will not negatively affect your viewing experience.
Getting A Good Projector Screen
You did everything to clean your projector screen. But sometimes, stains are permanent, and you cannot do anything else to take them off. In that case, you will need to get a new projector screen.
Yes, you already bought a screen in the past, so you might think that you know which one you should purchase next. But there are tips that you follow to get a better projector screen than the previous one you had.
Check out my top picks for projector screens.
What screen size should you purchase?
Check out my guide on screen sizes.
When you use your projector screen for a home theater, it is ideal for picking the largest one that can fit your room’s space and your budget.
It would help if you placed your screen a few feet above the floor. This way, you can ensure that you will get the right angle for viewing.
Lifting the projector screen above the floor will also make sure that your furniture will not block the reflections.
In addition, you need to leave at least one foot of space between the top of your screen and the ceiling.
If you placed your projector too high, you would need to crane your neck while watching your favorite movie or series.
If you have a room with an eight-foot ceiling, a 98-inch projector screen will let you have a foot margin at the top and a three-foot margin at the bottom.
However, bigger is not always better. If your projector screen is too large, the image reflected on it will have a lower quality brightness. Pixel structures will also be noticeable.
That said, you need to check the specs of your projector and see the maximum size of the image that it can project.
If you chose a big screen size, but it still fits the image size that your projector can make, then you can go for a big screen.
Always remember that the size of your projector screen should safely fall within the limit of your equipment’s projection size.
Moreover, the size of your projector screen will be the indicator of how far away you should sit for an excellent viewing experience.
If you have a projector with a 4K Ultra HD resolution, you can sit as close as to one time on the diagonal of your projector screen.
Such a viewing distance may be closer than the distance that most people are used to seeing. However, sitting closer when watching at a 4K Ultra HD resolution will allow you to see more refined and detailed images.
Select your screen type
There are two types of projector screens:
- Fixed screen
- Retractable screen
- Manual pull-down screens
If you prefer a fixed projector screen, your entertainment room needs to have empty wall space. The reflective cloth for this type of screen stretches over a thick metal frame covered in black velour.
Since the screen’s frame is black, it enhances the contrast you perceive on the image projected on the reflective screen.
Additionally, some manufacturers offer fixed projector screens that have skinny frames. This frame sometimes measures a half-inch or even less. As a result, you will have the optimum image size for the amount of wall space required.
Fixed screens also look sleek. The reason is that they look similar to a giant TV screen mounted on your wall.
On the other hand, you can prefer retractable projector screens.
Motorized retractable screens are those that you can set up only when you want to watch a movie.
After using such a screen type, you can get it out of sight and bring it out only when you need it again.
A retractable screen has a long metal case where the reflective fabric rolls up. You can mount it to your ceiling or wall. Inside the case is a powerful electric motor. It lets you raise or lower the screen at only a touch of a button without creating sound.
However, installing a motorized retractable screen is a little more complicated than a fixed projector screen. Such is because you need to place it near a source of electricity. This way, you will be able to supply electricity to the motor.
Moreover, most motorized screens have a trigger input. This feature automatically lowers the screen the moment you turn on your projector.
On top of that, it only requires a low voltage connection between the screen and the projector.
Motorized retractable projectors have two subtypes:
- Non-tensioned screens
- Tab-tensioned screen
Non-tensioned screens are those projector screens that hang freely from their case. As a result, they sometimes experience ripples, imperfections, and waves.
On the other hand, tab-tensioned screens have a system of tabs and cables. For this reason, it receives continuous tension on the surface of the screen. It results in a flatter-looking surface.
Additionally, tab-tensioned screens are the best type of retractable screen. It almost has the same image quality as a high-performing fixed frame screen.
The last type of projector screen is the manual pull-down screen. It has a spring and roller mechanism within the case. This feature allows the screen to roll and unroll when you tug on it.
However, the material and coating used to make this screen do not match the quality of a motorized screen. However, the image will still look much better than projecting the image onto a bare wall.
The texture of the screen you will choose is essential if you have a projector with 4K resolution.
Even the least expensive manual pull-down screens possess a texture smooth enough to provide excellent picture quality. It can even accommodate high-definition video with a resolution of up to 1080p.
However, a true 4K projector has small pixels. For this reason, projectors enhanced for 4K requires a 4K-rated screen material. Such has a finer grit, showing the image’s complete details and depth.
The amount of light reflected by a projector to viewers is called “gain.” The gain values of a screen differ depending on the coating used for the screen material.
If you need a screen that reflects more light, you should go for high-gain screens. Such provides a brighter and less washed-out image in rooms with bright light. It also works well with low-lumen projectors.
However, the high-gain screen can sometimes suffer from hot-spotting. Meaning, some parts of the screen look brighter than others.
Meanwhile, a standard gain screen is an excellent choice if you have a wide seating area. It reflects the light evenly in every direction.
Additionally, standard grain screens are also popular as “neutral grain.”
Moreover, negative gain screens offer wide viewing angles, too. Such have a design that delivers deeper black.
Screens with negative gain do this by absorbing some of the light coming from the projector.
Since this screen material reduces all the reflected light, they help mitigate issues in a room with ambient light.
If you have a high-lumen projector, negative gain screens are a perfect pair to it. The reason is that it compensates for the amount of light that they absorb.
- Robert Silva, How to Clean a Projector Screen, Lifewire, https://www.lifewire.com/clean-video-projection-screen-4582220/
- Carole Ellis, How to Clean a Projector Screen, Techwalla, https://www.techwalla.com/articles/how-to-clean-a-projector-screen/
- William Lynch, How to Repair Wrinkles on a Projector Screen, Chron, https://smallbusiness.chron.com/repair-wrinkles-projector-screen-45012.html/
- Emily S., Projector screen buying guide, https://www.crutchfield.com/S-VcVOAeEREFd/learn/projector-screen-buying-guide.html/
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.