How to Clean Your Phone Screen Properly

November 29, 2021

dirty phone screen with fingerprints

Source: Jason Busa/Shutterstock.com

Our phone screens can get rather grimy. And while we all do our best to wipe down our phones every day from fingerprints, makeup and more, sometimes they need a more thorough cleaning. So here is how to clean your phone screen properly to keep it free from scratches, germs, crumbs, lotions and whatever life throws at it.

Remove the Phone Case and Screen Protector

Before you clean your phone screen properly, you’ll need to remove it from its case. This will ensure that you get underneath the back and the sides of the phone protector (where you probably usually miss) and ensure that you don’t harm your phone case. Pela Cases can withstand isopropyl alcohol when you need to wipe away stubborn stains and can be cleaned in warm, sudsy water. But if, say, you just bought your new iPhone 13 case, it’s best to remove it first. 

In addition, if your phone’s traditional plastic screen protector is looking a little worse for wear, now is an excellent time to replace it with our liquid screen protector.

Learn How to Remove a Screen Protector Here

Remove Any Trapped Fine Particles

After removing the phone cover and screen protector, clean out any fine particles that might have gotten trapped beneath. Sand, pocket lint and much more may still linger and it’s important to remove this before wiping it down. Otherwise, you may cause microscopic scratches that can ultimately cause a cracked screen.   

There is an effortless, clever way of removing fine particles, especially ones that get stuck in the portholes and grilles of the phone. Simply use a plain piece of tape and gently apply it to any creases, speaker grilles and other intricate areas. Then, slowly rolling the tape up again, it should retrieve hard-to-reach particles and other gritty things. 

If you spot dust and particles past the grilles, you can try to use a small vacuum tool (like the ones used to detail clean cars). However, under no circumstance should you ever attempt to use compressed air. While this might seem like the most logical solution, especially since you might have one already for your other electronics, it can do severe damage to a phone’s internal mechanisms. The microphone, for example, is extremely delicate. Blow too hard and you could blow out the mic completely. Apple explicitly states in their cleaning guide to avoid using compressed air.

Banish Germs and Bacteria with a Disinfectant Wipe

phone screen disinfecting wipe

Source: Tasha Cherkasoval/Shutterstock.com

Before we talk about how to clean your phone screen, the first thing you need to know is that you should never under any circumstance spray liquid onto your phone directly. Yes, you will need to wet surfaces that have extra gunk, but never use a spray bottle. Instead, use disinfectant wipes. Despite what you might have read or heard during the pandemic, disinfectant wipes are perfectly safe to use on the phone so long as you choose the correct ones.

So what’s a good disinfectant wipe for cleaning phones? Essentially, you want to choose something with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol to clean away germs and bacteria. Something with a substantially higher alcohol percentage can damage the oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings that prevent fingerprint oils and splashes that ultimately protect your phone’s display and side ports. So stick to this alcohol concentration and avoid using a DIY solution. Even Apple recommends a 70 percent alcohol Clorox wipe on their iPhones and various products.  

If you need to disinfect your phone more frequently than most of us, a UV light might be a worthwhile investment. While alcohol disinfectant wipes are acceptable for cleaning a phone, a UV light cleaning device can kill germs without harming a phone screen at all. 

Wipe Away Smudges with a Gentle Microfiber Cloth

female cleaning her mobile phone

Source: GBALLGIGGSPHOTO/Shutterstock.com

If you only have a 70 percent alcohol disinfectant spray, again, never spray it directly onto the device. First, spray a gentle, microfiber cloth and then wipe it down to remove germs. Of course, if all you need to do is wipe away some fingerprints and smudges on the display, you don’t need a spray at all. Simply wipe it away with the gentle, microfiber cloth. 

A word of caution: Paper towels might seem like a good option when you’re in a pinch, but don’t do it! Paper towels can shred, leaving behind small torn paper pieces that get stuck in the microphone, grilles or other edges. And while it may feel soft to your hands, paper towels can scratch a phone screen. 

Air Dry Your Phone Completely

Now that you have cleaned your phone screen, allow it to air dry completely. Then, once it’s dry, you can place it back into the phone case. If you intend to apply our liquid screen protector, now is the perfect time to do it when your phone is squeaky clean. 

Ditch the Plastic Protector and Choose Our Liquid Screen Protector

And that’s how to clean your phone screen so it looks as good as new.