How to Clean Your Phone Screen

Keep your screen clean without doing damage

Person cleaning toilet

 RawPixels/Pexels

Some studies say your smartphone screen is dirtier than a public bathroom. Yikes. And with over 16% of all smartphones having some poop on them (yes, really), you'll want to keep your screen germ-free all the time. While the easiest way to keep your phone screen clean is to always wash your hands before and after you use it, that's not always practical. 

Here are some ways to clean your phone screen and keep it as germ-free as possible.

How to Clean Your Phone: Before You Get Started

Before you start, disconnect your phone from its charger or remove it from the wireless charging pad and turn it off. This will help you see just how dirty the screen is, and it'll also prevent you from accidentally calling someone or opening an app. Your phone doesn't know that you're just cleaning the screen instead of trying to open all the apps at once.

Use a Microfiber Cloth to Clean Your Screen

Your first line of defense is a microfiber cloth. You've probably got a ton of these things lying around as they come with every screen protector, sunglasses or regular glasses you buy, or as swag at conferences. 

They were originally used for eyeglasses alone, but they come in handy for cleaning your smartphone screen too. You can also buy them from your local or online retailer if you don't have one. 

Don't use abrasive cloths, towels, paper towels, or similar items because they could potentially damage or scratch your phone screen. Only use a microfiber cloth.

  1. Place the microfiber cloth on the phone screen and gently move it in a horizontal or vertical direction repeatedly.

  2. For tough dirt or sticky spots, dampen a corner of the microfiber cloth with a bit of water (nothing else, just water!) and gently move it in a horizontal or vertical direction on your phone screen repeatedly until the dirt is gone.

  3. Use a dry or clean corner of the cloth to remove any excess moisture from the screen and give it a final once-over.

Distilled Water and White Vinegar or Rubbing Alcohol

While you shouldn't use any kind of cleaning solution on your phone's screen, you can use a diluted solution of water and white vinegar to help get rid of your oily fingerprints and any sticky spots on it. You'll want to use distilled water since your tap water might have impurities and other unseeable minerals that could scratch your phone's screen

Here's how:

  1. Prepare a mix of 50% distilled water and 50% white vinegar in a spray bottle (or a one-to-one ratio of distilled water and 70% isopropyl alcohol). 

  2. Give the bottle a good shake.

  3. Spray a corner of your microfiber cloth till it's slightly dampened (but not soaked).

  4. Gently move the cloth in a horizontal or vertical direction on your phone screen repeatedly. 

  5. Use a dry or clean corner of the cloth to remove any excess moisture from the screen and give it a final once-over.

Diluting either the vinegar or rubbing alcohol is important because stronger concentrations can damage the coating manufacturers put on phone screens. They can even damage screen protectors (liquid or otherwise), so it's important that you dilute them before using them on your phone to clean the screens.

Pre-made Phone Screen Cleaner

If you don't have access to vinegar or rubbing alcohol, you may want to invest in pre-made cleaners instead, such as WHOOSH!. Most of these are a higher-priced version of the alcohol and distilled water solution outlined above but are still good. Plus it'll keep you from succumbing to the temptation of using one of the no-no cleaners we mention below. 

  1. Spray the pre-made cleaner on a corner of a microfiber cloth. Make sure it's just damp and not soaked.

  2. Gently move the cloth in a horizontal or vertical direction on your phone screen. 

  3. Wipe the screen with a dry corner of your microfiber cloth to remove any excess moisture.

Pre-moistened Phone Screen Cleaning Cloths

Just like the wet wipes you get at restaurants, there are pre-moistened cleaning cloths you can buy to use on your smartphone. Grab a brand like PhoneFresh, iCloths, or Well-Kept and use them to clean your screens. Just make sure whatever brand you have has a low or zero alcohol percentage to keep your screen safe.

These are handy to keep in your travel bag, purse, car, or office desk so you've always got something ready to go without having to fuss with cloths and spray bottles. 

Sticky Tape For Dust and Dirt

When you're stuck without a microfiber cloth and you need to clean your screen quickly, give a strip of adhesive tape (or sticky note) a try. 

Just stick the tape or sticky note to the surface of the screen and peel it off gently to remove any unwanted dirt and grime. Repeat the motion as necessary, gently, to clean the entire screen.

Really Clean Your Phone With a UV Sanitizer

PhoneSoap UV cleaner
 PhoneSoap.com

If you're really grossed out by the state of your smartphone screen, you can also use an ultraviolet (UV) sanitizer. A UV sanitizer like PhoneSoap has a small clamshell that fits most major cell phones and kills over 99.99% of germs. Not only does it clean your phone, but some models will wirelessly charge your phone, and you'll never miss an alert or notification since the container has a built-in audio amplifier. 

Cleaners to Avoid Using on Your Phone

Now that you know how to keep your smartphone's screen germ-free, let's go over the cleaners and items you should NEVER use to clean it. You'll probably be tempted to use one of these if you don't have any of the previously mentioned cleaners or items available, but you must resist. Even if you have a screen protector on your phone, these cleaners can still damage the protector and any of the ports on your phone if the liquid gets inside them. 

So, please avoid the following at all costs:

  • Window or household cleaners
  • Compressed air (for the speakers and ports)
  • Aerosol spray cleaners
  • Harsh solvents like acetone or lighter fluid and gasoline
  • Dish soap
  • Bleach
  • Ammonia
  • Undiluted alcohol-based cleaning liquids
  • Abrasive powders
  • Hydrogen peroxide