Your phone screen is raw. Here’s how to clean it properly


Areas like kitchens and bathrooms are usually cleaned regularly as they can harbor bacteria, but phones require the same touch-up. Whether you have a iPhone or one android phoneit needs to be cleaned make it last as long as possible. And with COVID-19[feminine] always there, it is important to disinfect objects that you touch frequently and that come into direct contact with others.

Ideally, you should clean your phone at least once a day by following your phone’s manual for cleaning instructions. Cleaning your device the wrong way (like using rubbing alcohol and paper towels) can strip the coatings that protect your screen. There are safer items that will do the trick.

We’ll show you the most common ways to properly clean your phone of germs and dirt, especially for phones rated for water resistance.

Use disinfectant wipes or the correct alcohol-based solution

If you touch your phone after touching a public doorknob or a grocery cart, your first thought might be to clean it with rubbing alcohol. Don’t. Pure alcohol can remove oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings that prevent oil and water from damaging your phone’s screen and other ports.

Some websites suggest creating a mixture of alcohol and water yourself, but getting the concentration right is essential. If you get it wrong, you could damage your phone. The safest bet is to use disinfectant wipes containing 70% isopropyl alcohol to clean your phone screen.

Person squeezing the handle of a bottle of cleanser

Ditch the glass cleaner and counter spray, now.

Derek Poore/CNET

Before the pandemic, we were told not to use disinfectant wipes on our phone screens, but Apple says it’s okay to use Clorox Wipes and others with similar concentrations.

AT&T’s cleaning guidelines suggest “spray a non-abrasive or alcohol-based (70% isopropyl) sanitizer directly onto a soft, lint-free cloth and wipe down your device when it’s turned off and unplugged.” Samsung also said you can create a 70% alcohol-based solution of ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, applied with a microfiber cloth.

Another option for daily cleaning is to invest in a UV lamp, such as TelephoneSoap. This UV light company claims that their product kills 99.99% of germs and banishes bacteria. To our knowledge, it has not been tested in relation to this strain of coronavirus.

Get rid of fingerprints with a microfiber cloth

Fingerprints are hard to prevent because your skin constantly produces oils. This means that every time you pick up your phone there are bound to be fingerprints everywhere.

The safest and most effective way to clean your screen is to use a microfiber cloth. If the screen desperately needs cleaning, use distilled water to dampen the microfiber cloth, then wipe your screen – avoid squirting water directly onto the screen. This method can also be used on the back and sides of your phone.

You can also try a microfiber screen cleaning sticker, which you stick to the back of your phone and can remove when you need to wipe it down.

Also check out Samsung’s tips on cleaning your phone.

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Remove Sand and Lint With This Duct Tape Trick

Lint and sand can get stuck in your phone’s small ports and in the crevices where the screen meets the body.

The best way to remove sand and lint is to use masking tape. You can lay it along the creases and the speaker, then roll it up and gently place it in the ports. The grip of the strip will remove any lint or sand that may be stuck in your phone.

For small speaker holes that the tape can’t reach, use a toothpick (gently) or try vacuuming up debris with a small crevice tool. These tools can also be used for other small appliances or hard to reach areas in your car.

Wipe off makeup with a damp cloth

When you have a face full of makeup and need to make a phone call, guess what that foundation is about to stick to? That’s right, your phone screen. And while you can use makeup remover to remove your makeup every night, you shouldn’t use it as a screen cleaner because of some chemicals that might be lurking in the ingredients. ( explains the chemicals that might be in your makeup remover.)

Instead, you could get your phone its own makeup remover, such as Whoosh. The company says its product is safe for all screens and does not contain alcohol, chlorine, ammonia, or phosphates that can harm various screen coatings.

You can also use a damp microfiber cloth to clean the phone and then throw that cloth in the wash. Be sure to use a spray bottle to spray the cloth, rather than running it under water. The less water, the better.

How to clean waterproof phones

If you have a water resistant phone rated for IP67 and above, you can rinse it with water. Although these phones, like the new iPhone 13 and the galaxys phones, can withstand submersion for up to 30 minutes in up to 3 feet of water, it’s a much better idea to use a damp or wet cloth to clean your phone. Then dry your phone with a soft, dry cloth to remove the water. Be sure to thoroughly dry all speakers and ports.

Soaking the phone in water or running it under a faucet will cause water to enter the ports, which means you won’t be able to charge it until they’re dry, and this may take some time. Remember, having a water-resistant phone is more about peace of mind in the event of an accident than deliberately taking your phone swimming.

person talking on the phone

If you make a call while wearing makeup, guess what’s happening on your phone.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Avoid These Items When Cleaning Your Phone

We’re here to warn you, not shame you, but drop that bottle of Windex, stat. Here are some products you should never use to clean your phone.

Hydroalcoholic gel

Since some hand sanitizers contain ingredients like perfumes and ethyl alcohol, it’s best to keep the sanitizer off your phone screen. However, if you have touched anything outside your home, you should sanitize your hands before touching your phone to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria. For best results, use manufacturer’s hand sanitizer rather than making your own at home (they are not as efficient).

Window washer

You clean your mirrors and windows with glass cleaner, and they are perfectly clean, so glass cleaner must be OK to use on your phone? Bad! Some phones, like the iPhone, have a protective coating that is water and oil resistant and can wear off over time.

Using harsh cleaners can strip the coating and make your phone more susceptible to scratches. James LeBeau, associate professor of materials science and engineering at MIT, told us that any cleaner with an abrasive agent will likely scratch the surface, so these should be avoided altogether.

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Kitchen cleaners

A screen’s anti-scratch properties won’t be destroyed by cleaning agents, but stripping that protective coating is still a problem. That’s why Apple also suggests not using household cleaners to clean your iPhone, including bleach. Bar Keepers Friend, for example, says its abrasive formula can damage the protective coating. Bon Ami states not to be used on glass with coatings.

Paper napkins

They can be the perfect solution for cleaning up your desk, but keep them away from your phone. Paper can shred, further aggravating debris on your phone. Paper towels can even end up leaving scratches on your screen.

rubbing alcohol

Since many newer phones have a protective coating, rubbing alcohol can wear it down faster over time, making your phone more prone to scratches. Be sure to check for alcohol in the product ingredients on all “safe to use” phone screen cleaners. Apple says to avoid alcohol when cleaning its devices.

make-up remover

Some makeup removers may contain chemicals that can be harsh on an electronic screen. LeBeau suggests skipping makeup remover and instead using a soft cloth with a little water.

Pressurized air

Your phone is delicate, so blowing an intense amount of air into its portals can cause damage, especially to your mic. Tech companies, like Apple, specifically warn against using compressed air.

Dish soap and hand soap

While your dish and hand soaps can be mild, the only way to use them is to combine them with water. Most phone companies suggest keeping water away from your phone, so again, stick to a damp cloth.

The vinegar

It’s a no-no. The vinegar will remove the coating from the screen. You can, as Lifehacker suggests, use very diluted vinegar to clean other parts of your phone. Android Central suggests a 50/50 mix with distilled water to clean the sides and back.

If you’re thinking of getting a new phone, check out Samsung’s Galaxy S22 range and our opinion on the iPhone 13.


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