Ask the Doctor: Windex Worries


A couple weeks ago I received a Dell Inspiron 6400 from a friend of mine. I was told that he used Windex directly on the screen, which dripped into the bottom of the LCD (between the screen and the housing). It now has a small, permanent “white fire” pattern on the bottom-center of the LCD screen. It appears not to be a physical effect, as I cannot see it when the laptop is off, but I can see it even when the backlight is turned off.
What should I do to fix my display?

—Jason Wesley

The Doctor has some bad news for you: Your situation is terminal. In this case, your laptop will require a screen transplant, as the Windex has irreversibly damaged the underlying layer of your panel. Even if you use Windex to clean a laptop’s screen—and the Doctor doesn’t recommend you do this—you need to resist the urge to spray it willy-nilly over the entire surface. Instead, spray a little bit on a cloth and use that to buff out your screen’s blemishes.

Ultimately, your screen will fare far better if you spritz a microfiber cloth with an alcohol-based LCD cleaner and give your screen a rub. You can make your own using a 50-50 mix of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and distilled water. Or, if you’re feeling lazy, you can pick up a premixed screen cleaner from your computer store of choice.

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at\ for advice on how to solve your technological woes.

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