Published On: December 9, 2021

Is This $30 Screen Cleaner Any Better than Distilled Water?

Published On: December 9, 2021
We May Earn From Some Purchases Via Affiliate Links

Is This $30 Screen Cleaner Any Better than Distilled Water?

How well does this premium screen cleaning kit actually work?

Is This $30 Screen Cleaner Any Better than Distilled Water?

By Author: Mark Henninger

There are all sorts of ways to spend your money to pamper your AV system, and that includes cleaning. A company called Austere sells a cleaning kit that amounts to a 6.8-ounce spray bottle of liquid cleaner plus a microfiber cloth. The Austere III Series Clean & Protect comes in a very fancy box (for a glass cleaner anyhow) that is velvet-lined, and the company claims it will perform better at cleaning than plain water, or DIY screen cleaning solutions.

How well does this premium screen cleaning kit actually work?
Austere Clean & Protect Series III

The product's marketing lingo makes a few specific claims like anti-static (that is a quality of water, yes) and anti-bacterial (but then mentions it's the microfiber cloth that is anti-bacterial?). What is apparent is the product is non-toxic, it even claims to be allergen-free, and simply says you should rinse it out of your eyes if need be.

So, of course, the first thing I did was taste it. The verdict? Tastes like water. Stale, plasticky water, which could be whatever surfactant the company uses, but it does not really taste soapy.

I don't have lab gear to see what else is in the mixture, but whatever it might be is clear, odorless, flavorless, and non-toxic. So all that's left is to test the cleaner, and what better way to test it than to try and clean some fingerprint-covered screens.

The result? I'm hard-pressed to spot a real difference between distilled water and the Austere spray. It took roughly the same number of wipes to clean multiple glass surfaces, from screens to windows to a slightly greasy induction cooktop. All of the cleaning action appears to be the result of the combination of the microfiber cloth and moisture, with both delivering a streak-free clean after a similar amount of wiping.

Now, to its credit, Austere does discuss how plain tap water makes a good cleaner, or maybe soapy tap, but notes both may leave streaks. Here's a hint... this is why you use distilled water. They also promise their product is not snake oil, and state the cleaning ingredients they use are expensive, which is hard to argue with but it all comes back to a simple question: Is it more effective than distilled water?

My conclusion is it is not. IMO, you are better off putting distilled water into a spray bottle and picking up some microfiber cloths, all of which you can grab at Home Depot for well under $30, and making that your screen cleaning kit. And if you have a tough cleaning job, make two sprays, one with a tiny bit of soap in it, and the other just distilled water, and do a 2-step cleaning to get out any pesky dried-on fingerprints.

Of course, it is understandable that a TV owner would want a product that will not damage the screen. And $30, while a high price for 7 ounces of glass cleaner and a small cloth, does buy you fancy packaging, a nice little spray bottle that puts out a fine mist, and a lifetime guarantee promising "protection, performance and peace of mind."

Check out Austere III Series Clean & Protect at Crutchfield

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