Speed up Your Phone With Android Cleaners

Insufficient storage? Device working too slowly? Try these tips

Illustration of a woman cleaning a mobile phone with a shovel, scrubbing and removing data


sorbetto / Getty Images

An Android cleaner can be used to make your tablet or phone run faster and smoother. You can optimize your device with a cleaner app or use the built-in cleaning mechanism already available on your phone/tablet.

Like most devices, including tablets, phones, and computers, the Android operating system, and installed apps can begin to run slower and slower as the device fills up with more and more files. One of the quickest things you can do to get more storage on your Android is to delete other files and apps you no longer need or want.

Apart from uninstalling apps, temporary files stored on the device, called caches, can occupy lots of space. Caches store frequently used files in a space that’s easy to access when those same files are needed again. While this is a great feature that normally boosts performance, caches that consume lots of space will slow down your phone, can delay start times of apps and menus, and might even crash your apps.

When to Clean Your Android

You can use an Android cleaner whenever your phone seems sluggish or unresponsive. Not every slow or faulty phone can be fixed by deleting junk files and clearing up space, but some can.

For example, if you open an app that used to work normally, but now takes much longer to fully load, you might be in need of an Android cleaner. Or maybe menus aren’t as smooth to scroll through, or apps won’t shut down when you try swiping them away, or phone calls ring for seconds before you can see who’s calling.

What we recommend is shutting down all the apps running on your device and then following this guide in order so that you can identify if there are any apps you can remove before diving into removing junk data, cleaning the memory, etc., and especially before the destructive last step at the bottom of this page.

If you find that even after following this guide, including the reset option at the bottom, your phone still lacks what a normal phone does in terms of performance or speediness, you might be ready to buy a new Android phone.

Delete Apps You Don’t Use

If you have a slow phone because you’re low on disk space, the best thing you can do is remove large Android apps, or several small ones that you don’t want anymore. Fortunately, this cleaning function is built right into your phone.

Screenshots showing how to delete an app on Android
  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap Apps or Application manager or Apps & notifications.
  3. Tap the name of the app that’s taking up lots of space.
  4. Tap Uninstall.

If your phone supports sorting the list of apps by size, tap the menu at the top right and select Sort by size. Apps in the GBs are the largest, followed by MBs and then KBs.

Manually Clear App Caches

If you don’t want to remove an app entirely, you still have the option to clear its cache. This will clean up some space but won’t delete the app itself, or your data.

You can skip down to the next section below to use an Android cleaner app instead, but if your phone is so full that you can’t download new apps, you should clear the cache manually since you don’t need a specific cleaner app to do it.

Screenshots showing how to delete the Chrome app cache on Android
  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap Apps or Application manager or Apps & notifications.
  3. Tap an app that’s taking up lots of space.
  4. Tap Clear Cache.
    1. If you don't see that option, open Storage first.

GBs are larger than MBs, and KBs are even smaller. If your phone supports sorting the list by size, tap the menu at the top right and select Sort by size.

Some apps may also have a Clear Storage option and if so, feel free to clear this as well.

Some apps you find in the list during Step 2 might report that they’re using lots of data, but then the cache you see in Step 4 might be very small. This is because real data, like files you’ve saved or game progress, is being stored there but it’s not the same as the cache.

If you see that the cache is taking up very little space, move on to a different app that’s consuming lots of storage to see if its cache is large.

If you’re not sure which apps to choose, another option for cleaning up your Android is to delete the cache of every single app at one time. If you need to quickly clean up your Android without deleting any apps, this is the best method, at least on versions of Android that support this:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Search for Storage and tap it.
  3. Tap Cached data or Saved data.
  4. Tap Delete.

Install an Android Cleaner App

To avoid cleaning your phone manually or removing any apps, you can use a dedicated cleaner app for Android. There are lots of these apps available on Google Play, some that work better than others.

For example, one Android cleaner might not clear up as much as another because it won’t remove items that are currently in memory, some apps might remove only cached files but not downloads, etc.

Screenshot of the Android cleaner apps Files Go, Norton Clean, and Super Cleaner

Files Go is an app from Google that does a fantastic job at identifying what you can delete to clean up your Android. It lists apps you haven't used in the last month, finds junk files, deletes downloaded files (included APKs), and lists all your audio, video, picture, and document files and lets you easily back them up to Google Drive.

Norton Clean is one example of a junk removal app that will erase not only app caches but also residual files, obsolete APKs, files in the downloads folder, and other miscellaneous junk files. Something we like about this app is that unlike most others, it's completely free from advertisements.

A few others to consider include Clean Master, Avast Cleanup, CCleaner, and Clean My Android.

Your experience using these Android cleaners will depend on how many (and which) apps you have installed, the last time you deleted junk from your phone, and which apps are open during the cleaning process.

Back-Up Your Photos Online

Screenshots showing how to clear space on an Android with Google Photos

Another huge space waster that can slow down a phone if not taken control of, is photos and videos. If your phone takes forever to do the simplest of tasks, and especially if you're also getting low storage space warnings, there's a good chance your media files are overwhelming your phone.

One simple remedy is to use Google Photos. This app isn't marketed as an Android cleaner but that's exactly what it does. It will keep all your videos and pictures backed up to your Google account so that you can delete them from your phone but still access them from the app or from the Google Photos website.

This clears up huge amounts of storage for most people, especially anyone who takes lots of photos or videos.

Other Ways to Manually Clean Your Phone

If you haven't realized already, one of the biggest reasons for a slow phone, beyond corrupted or full app caches, is an almost-full drive. If you've cleaned up your phone with the methods above but it's still not quite right, there might be several other things you can do to clear out unnecessary files and regain the storage space you need for a speedy phone.

Look in your music apps for songs you don't listen to anymore, or for duplicate tracks, and see if there's something there you can delete. If you use a podcast app, erase episodes you've already heard. Get enough of these items built up and you're looking at several dozen megabytes, if not gigabytes of unnecessary data. If you don't want to erase them, consider uploading them to an online service and streaming them as needed.

Similarly, if you save movies and TV shows offline with Netflix or some other app that can download movies, sift through the list of downloads to delete the videos you've already watched. You might have used the offline videos during a trip but then forgot that they're still saved on your device. Offline videos are often 200 MB to 1 GB or more, each.

Cleaning your Android of old messages is another option. Look through text messages for ones that include photos and videos, and either save them to Google Photos or some other cloud storage app or erase them. These media files are really easy to overlook because they're often embedded in really old conversations that you no longer see.

Offline map data is another huge storage hoarder. If one of the Android cleaners above didn't catch it, open the upper-left menu button in Google Maps and tap Offline maps. Tap one of your downloaded maps and then choose Delete. Be sure to look for similar options in any other navigation apps you have.

Factory Reset Your Android

Another way to clean your Android phone and make it as fast as possible is to reset all the software back to factory defaults. Use this method only if the ones above weren’t enough to sufficiently clean your Android.

Most people find that resetting their phone makes it a whole lot faster. Not only does it effectively clean up all the junk files that have accumulated over the use of the phone, but any malware and hard-to-find background processes that might be lingering on the device are wiped away.

It’s important to know what else, exactly, will happen when you reset an Android phone or tablet: all of your data will be deleted, every app will be uninstalled, all your customizations will be removed, and your device will be put back to the same state it was in when it first left the manufacturer.

Before resetting your phone or tablet, be sure to back it up. Should the reset process cause unforeseen problems, it’s best to have your data saved online.