How to Clear Cache Data on Your Android

Android running slow? Clearing the cache should speed things up

The cache on a smartphone is a collection of small files that speed up normal operations on the phone. Instead of a web browser, for example, downloading a web page every time you visit a site, the browser grabs the file from its cache. When these files get corrupted, the data inside the file is unreadable, and it slows down the device. Deleting those files and making the program request them again makes the smartphone faster because it won't get stuck reading an unreadable file.

Illustration of a person clearing the cache on a smartphone
Lifewire / Theresa Chiechi

The information and directions below apply to Android Lollipop (5.0) and newer and should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

Is It Safe to Clear the App Cache on Your Device?

The cache contains temporary files that are used to speed up the app. Sometimes, these are files downloaded from the internet and used frequently by the app. Deleting files in the cache can help the app load and operate faster.

How Does Clearing the Cache Cure Problems With the Smartphone or Tablet?

Cache files give an app quick access to needed information. But this is duplicated information stored permanently elsewhere, and if the file isn't the most up-to-date, it could cause problems. If the file becomes corrupted, which means some of the information stored in it has become jumbled, it can cause the app to behave erratically or crash.

Clearing the cache can solve these problems, and it is often a good troubleshooting step to take before resetting the device, which is often the last step in troubleshooting an erratic device.

How to Wipe All Cache Data on Your Android Device at Once

The easiest way to deal with the device cache is to delete it all at once. This saves the trouble of hunting down the cache for the individual app and it can solve many problems with performance or erratic behavior on the Android device. It can result in a fair amount of storage space being recovered, but this tends to be a temporary effect. Apps will slowly build back their cache as they are used, so it should only be used as a short-term solution to any storage issues.

Google removed the ability to clear all cache at once in the Oreo (Android v8.x) update.

To clear the cache:

  1. Open the Android Settings app.

  2. Tap Storage. It is usually in the Device section of the settings.

    Android Storage
  3. Android calculates where the device storage is being used (Apps, photos, or other places.). Go to Cached data to see how much you will get back.

  4. Tap Cached data. When prompted, confirm your choice.

Clearing the cache data does not erase any personal information or any important data stored on the device.

Storage, Cached data, and OK button in Android settings

What If You Don't Get the Option to Clear the Cached Data?

Newer versions of Android no longer allow you to clear this data all at once. Certain manufacturers may also limit this feature. If you do not have the option, you will only be allowed to clear the cache for apps individually.

How to Wipe the Cache Data of an Individual App on Your Android Device

If only one or two apps experience problems, clearing the cache for these individual apps is an alternative to deleting the entire cache. And on newer devices that don't allow you to delete the entire cache all at once, this is the alternative choice.

  1. Choose Apps & notifications.

  2. Tap See all ## apps, with the actual number of apps on your device, to open the complete list.

  3. Tap the app that you want to clear.

    The amount of storage space each app uses, including the cache displays below the name of the app.

    Apps & notifications, See all 42 apps, Firefox in Android settings
  4. In the App info screen, tap Storage to view a detailed breakdown of how the storage is used.

  5. Tap Clear Cache to clear the app cache. Tap Clear Data to erase the data associated with the app.

    Storage, Clear Cache buttons on Android
  6. The size of the cache drops to zero.

Prioritize Clearing Cache From Individual Apps

Here are some tips to keep in mind when clearing the cache from apps:

  • If a specific app has problems, clear the cache, then open the app to see if the problems persist.
  •  If several apps or the Android device has problems, clear the cache from your most-used apps.
  • To clear up storage space, first, clear the cache from the Chrome browser and other web browsers you use on the device. Then, clear the cache from any social media apps such as Facebook or Twitter, and other apps that access the internet. If you need more space, go through the other apps starting with those that take up the most overall space.

Clearing cache is a temporary method to gain storage space. As you use an app, it will build up a new cache of temporary files.