Make your own screen-cleaning spray on the cheap

Stop overspending on store-bought screen cleaners -- you can make your own in large quantities for just a few bucks.

Generic or not, some of the biggest rip-offs in the realm of consumer electronics have got to be cleaning solutions. Why? Because whether they're marketed to clean your phone, computer screen, keyboard, or mouse, the solution is nearly always water and alcohol.

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For just a few bucks, you can make your own, equally effective screen-cleaning solution at home in large quantities. Keep one on your desk, one at home, and one for the road -- and never overspend on glorified water again.

You'll need:

  • 8 ounces 70 percent isopropryl alcohol (rubbing alchohol)
  • 8 ounces distilled water
  • Small misting spray bottle
  • Masking tape and permanent marker for labeling (optional)

The key to this homemade recipe is the use of distilled water. Other unpurified waters, like tap water or spring water, will leave an unwanted residue on your screens due to their mineral contents.

Sharon Vaknin/CNET

Making this screen-cleaning spray couldn't be easier. Simply combine one part alcohol and one part distilled water in the spray bottle. Cap it, give it a quick shake, and it's ready for use.

Variation: If you don't have isopropyl alcohol handy, you may substitute plain vinegar. Be warned, though, the scent won't be very pleasant, and this alternative solution does take a little longer to dry.

To prevent any mix-ups, label the bottle with masking tape and a permanent marker.

Note: Please consult your product manual before using this homemade spray. Some manufacturers advise against using alcohol on their products, due to oleophobic coatings. If that's the case, only use distilled water, or reserve the alcohol-water spray for removing stubborn dirt. Though excess use of alcohol-based cleaning sprays on oleophobic screens may remove their coatings, occasional is certainly acceptable.

Editors' note: Updated on October 15, 2012, to advise that some manufacturers recommend against alcohol-based cleaning solutions.

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