how to clean your smartphone

In today’s COVID environment it’s more important than ever to practice good hygiene with our phones.

For example, simply washing your hands for 20 seconds frequently and especially after touching any surface can effectively eliminate the virus from our skin. The problem is that we sometimes don't think about all the surfaces we contact. Phones, for one, are usually handled directly after touching a surface. Even after we wash our hands, it may not occur to us to wash our phones as well.

Most people rely on their cell phones every day, so we must consider their cleanliness as much as our own. This means knowing how to clean your phone screen after picking it up from the table. Coronavirus or not, making phone cleaning a habit can significantly reduce the number of germs and the amount of dirt and sweat that your phone may be carrying on its surfaces.

What not to use

Learning how to clean your iPhone or other smartphone starts with learning how not to clean your phone. Misconceptions around proper cleaning techniques can lead to unnecessary damage to your phone. Having the right equipment for phone cleaning ensures your phone's longevity over time.


protecting your phone

With Lysol being one of the most popular products for store runs during this dilemma, it's easy to think this chemical disinfectant would be the most effective way to clean your phone. But it's not. Neither is Clorox. Although these are excellent ways to wipe down surfaces at home, when it comes to a cell phone specifically, we need to take a different route.

This is because most phone screens have an oleophobic coating, which is resistant to oil. For phone use, it is to keep fingerprints off the glass panel that makes up your phone screen. Some screen protectors use oleophobic material as well. Note that oleophobic does not mean fingerprint-proof. Phone screens will get fingerprints, but oleophobic coating offers phones a quicker clean and a more slippery touch.

Aggressive chemical compounds like Lysol and Clorox can be harmful to your phone's display as they can damage the oleophobic coating of your phone screen. However, if your phone is a few years old, the oleophobic coating has probably already been worn down. It takes approximately two years for this to happen. If this is the case, feel free to clean your phone screen with more invasive disinfectants.

To check if the oleophobic coating has worn off, carefully drip a droplet of oil on the display. The droplet's movement can tell you whether or not you still have the coating. The oil forming together signifies that the coating is still there. The spreading out of the oil, or splatting, means your coating has depleted.

Most smartphones also have a hydrophobic coating, which is resistance against water. It keeps phones working through spills, splashes and rain. The same rules apply here as with oleophobic coatings. Test for this coating with water instead of oil.

taking extra precautions

You can invest in a high-grade screen protector if you're worried about damaging the screen. Many people don't like putting a film over their phone screens because it can smudge easily and needs to be cleaned repeatedly. A better quality screen protector can make all the difference and may include an oleophobic coating of its own.

Alcohol-based cleaners may advertise that they're phone-friendly, but this is not exactly the case. The presumption is that since alcohol works well with cleaning television screens and computer monitors, then a phone screen is not far off. But most televisions and monitors do not incorporate touchscreen use. They rarely have the same chemical layers that smaller phone screens contain.

Additionally, your phone ports are vulnerable to any liquid. They can be permanently or temporarily damaged after exposure. Since the damage is internal, it can be difficult to resolve, whatever liquid you decide to use.

Your best bet is to look for a chemical cleaner that is specifically designed for smartphones or touchscreens. Of course, if vague or false labeling leads you astray, be sure to watch out for the following items:


  • Window or household cleaners like Windex
  • Aerosol spray cleaners like Lysol
  • Abrasive solvents
  • Makeup remover
  • Vinegar
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Bleach
  • Harsh powders
  • Ammonia
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Undiluted isopropyl alcohol

What You'll need

There are many ways to clean your phone, some more aggressive than others. For grease and dirt, a simple dusting or dry wipe can be effective. On the other hand, if you're wondering how to clean your phone to protect you from the virus, it might be sensible to make a more dedicated effort. This is when chemicals enter the equation.

compressed air

Compressed air is a contained gas that has been pressurized at a level greater than the atmospheric pressure in the general environment. This air is usually housed in an aerosol can so the air can be applied directly to whatever item or service needs it. The compression of the air gives it a great force once released, and this energy is classified as a renewable resource. Being an easily sourced product, compressed air is very cheap as well.

The use of compressed air with phones pertains to cleaning dust or dirt in unreachable nooks and crannies of your cell phone. When grime gets into the ports of your cellphone like your audio jack or charging input, it will be packed even tighter when you insert a cable. Over time, the port will lose its functionality, and you'll be unable to charge your phone or listen to music with headphones.

To prevent or correct this problem, you can use compressed air, but be extremely careful. The pressure can damage the microphone if you're not precise. Apple, in particular, warns against using compressed air for this reason.

ultraviolet lights

Ultraviolet (UV) lights are a type of light with shorter wavelengths than that of visible light. They are found in sunlight and are also called UV rays. Black lights and sun tanning beds use UV rays too. Unlike compressed air, ultraviolet lights actually kill bacteria, rather than just blowing them out. Some companies selling UV lights claim that they kill 99.9% of bacteria. In this sense, it can be compared to hand sanitizer. But its effectiveness against coronavirus is not known or well-researched.

Dry Materials

Dry wipes should be your first go-to for hassle-free phone cleaning. The oleophobic coating of your makes it easy for a quick wipe down when fingerprints or grease get too visible. Microfiber cloths or soft linen usually achieve the goal. These are basically the same fabrics you would use to wipe down a pair of glasses. Naturally, the cloth should be lint-free.

Dampen the cloth with water if your phone needs more cleaning. Remember that damp is preferred over wet. Many phones these days are water-resistant, but water doesn't have the best reputation with phones either way, so it's best to avoid it in excess.

Another dry material that can be helpful to phone cleaning is a cotton swab. It's an alternative to compressed air for getting into tight spaces and cleaning out dirt. You can use a wooden toothpick too.

wet chemicals

Wet chemicals are likely the safest option when it comes to germ elimination. They should be used with the dry materials mentioned for a thorough cleaning. And they're also the safest treatment against viruses. Again, finding a phone-specific cleaner helps you avoid any unnecessary complications with picking cleaners. If these cleaners aren't available, isopropyl alcohol — which you may know as rubbing alcohol — is a solution if diluted appropriately.

You should combine one part of alcohol with an equal part of water for dilution. Distilled water is best for this. Depending on your area, the tap water could have impurities that aren't well-suited for phone cleaning.

what to do

Once you've picked what to use to clean your phone, you'll need to know how to use them. Compressed air and UV lights are niche methods, so if you've opted for one of these, do some research study. Learn more about their utility and potential effects on your device. Work out what the best practices are with these approaches.

Using dry wipes alongside a wet chemical will give you the strongest defense for curtailing coronavirus and other germs. Besides specified phone cleaners, you have two principal options. The first is traditional — soap and water. The second is 70% isopropyl alcohol mixed with water. Use the following steps for most wet chemical mixtures, including these two.


  1. Turn off your phone or remove the battery if possible. Think of this as an extra safety measure so the wet chemicals don't somehow interrupt the software running on your phone.
  2. Remove your phone case or cover. You want to clean your entire phone, not just the screen, and the case would be obtrusive. Clean your phone case as well. Putting a clean phone into a dirty case is counterproductive. You can clean plastic or TPU/silicone phone cases with just soap and water. Leather or fabric cases may require a more specialized cleaner as to not damage the material.
  3. Mix together soap and water or water and alcohol in the appropriate parts. You can use another chemical solution if applicable.
  4. Put the wet chemical solution in a small spray bottle. The spray bottle assures that your cloth won't get too wet versus being dipped or submerged.
  5. Shake the bottle to get an even distribution of everything inside.
  6. Spray your microfiber cloth or soft linen with the wet chemical solution. Only spray lightly and from some distance away. Damp is preferred to wet.
  7. Wipe down your entire phone. This includes the back and sides in addition to the screen. Try not to drip liquid into the ports.
  8. Clean smaller areas that have accumulated gunk or packed dirt with a cotton swab or toothpick. These do not need to be combined with your wet chemical mixture. After removing the dirt, clean the area once over with your damp cloth.
  9. Give your phone time to dry before use. This should take about 15 minutes. Your phone cover should be completely dry as well before placing it back on the phone.


Completing these steps will go a long way toward a sparkling clean phone, which is obviously important given how much we use and touch it. Just keep up with regular cleaning as your phone comes in contact with more and more surfaces. Don't forget about your own cleanliness. Wash your hands many times throughout the day.


safely buy or sell a used phone

Due to the potential severity of the outbreak, local and federal governments alike are recommending social distancing. Social distancing requires that you purposely isolate yourself from whoever else may be in your immediate vicinity. The virus can be spread from 6 feet away or less. But experts are recommending that people stay at home if possible and connect with others virtually. In the same vein, schools and businesses are closing to enforce people's safety.

This along with other measures like cleaning your phone and washing your hands is the best way to stay healthy during this time. While some socialites might be disappointed by the hefty warning, there are still many ways we can continue life as usual indoors, and without coming into close contact with others. Many of these ways can be achieved with a smartphone. We can connect with friends digitally and scroll through internet memes.

Gazelle provides an easy and budget-friendly way of selling your used phone or buying a new phone to better connect with the online world. Our transaction happens on the web, so you won't have to worry about meeting a stranger. Shipping is free and with the proper packaging, you can schedule a convenient pickup for your used phone while you are comfortable at home. For those in need of a new phone, expect a quick delivery straight to your mailbox. We have a diverse range of quality cell phones to suit your needs and wants from iPhones to Samsung Galaxys. Let Gazelle keep you connected and safe.

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