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Many boats these days have touch-screen devices at the helm to do everything from navigate your way into and out of port to finding fish to playing movies and videos for the kids.

These devices are often the most-used on the entire boat, and over the course of your boating season, everyone touches those screens. That means lots of fingerprints, including fingers coated with sunblock oils, fish slime, live bait scales, perspiration and everything else.

In addition, after a long season, the touch screens and all the other controls at the helm are often coated with dried sea spray, dirt, and other contaminants that fly around in the air.

This is a great time to do a major clean-up on your touch screens, before you put your boat in winter storage.  But there are some important things to know before you start cleaning those screens!

First, the list of DON’Ts:

  • Never use alcohol-based or vinegar-based cleaning products on your touch-screen devices.  That means products like Windex, which is the go-to glass cleaner for most of us.  The alcohol and other solvents in products like that can adversely affect your touch-screen. Some will sap away moisture or break down the plasticized elements of the screen, leading to deterioration of the screen or its case.
  • Never use paper towels.  Scratching is the enemy of a touch-screen and using a paper towel to rub on the surface of a screen will be like rubbing a fingertip of salt on it. Not good.  Use soft microfiber towels, which will not scratch.

Here’s how to clean your screen safely:

  1. Turn off everything. Power down the helm controls. 
  2. Using a hose fitted with a fine-mist sprayer, give the entire helm station a nice rinse.  You don’t want to drown everything and you won’t want to use a high-pressure spray.  Just mist everything down and let the water rinse away the surface dirt and particles naturally.
  3. Using a PVA chamois towel, pat-dry the helm and screens. You don’t want to scrub or rub too hard. Just dry up the misting you just applied so everything is dry.
  4. Use a boat-cleaning product designed for screens and other delicate surfaces. Shurhold Serious Shine is popular with many captains. Others include Chemtronics Screen Prep, Star Brite Screen Cleaner and TH Marine’s Wave Away Sonar/GPS Screen cleaner. 

Lightly mist the surfaces with the screen cleaner and wipe away with a microfiber cleaning towel (make sure it’s clean so it won’t scratch).

Most of these specifically designed screen cleaners contain UV inhibitors, anti-fingerprint and anti-static properties. You can also use these cleaners on plastic bevels around the screen, as well as non-touch glass on gauges, control knobs, buttons and switches, chrome, fiberglass and windscreens. Very handy!

  1. Always use the plastic covers once your screens are cleaned. These help protect against sea spray, dirt and UV rays while your boat is not in use. 

It is always a good idea to check with your owner’s manual for your Garmin or other brand of touch-screen device.  The manufacturer of your screen often recommends cleaning products for use with those devices.  

With regular cleaning from these specially developed products, your touch screens should remain sparkling clean and in good condition for years to come.

If you are interested in more information about electronic upgrades and service, contact our electronics team today.

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