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How to Keep Your Phone Spotless Without Scratching the Screen

“Can I clean a phone screen?” is a question most people have asked at some point. Phone screens get dirty and smudged from fingerprints and being carried in pockets or purses. It’s important to know how to clean a phone screen properly because it’s a crucial part of your phone. If your iPhone screen is too dirty for you to read messages, surf the web, or access your contacts, you’re not going to get the most out of it — and you won’t enjoy using it, either.

Can I clean my phone screen?

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

While Apple has never confirmed exactly what the iPhone screen is made of, it’s believed to be Corning’s Gorilla Glass, a brand of specialized, toughened glass known for being fairly scratch-proof. It’s also thin, light, and damage-resistant, making it a good choice for a smartphone screen. As well as being used on the iPhone, Gorilla Glass is featured in Samsung phones and other consumer electronics. Apple recommends cleaning your iPhone right away if it is exposed to anything that might stain or damage it, such as makeup, sand, soap, dirt, ink, lotions, or detergent.

Whether you have an iPhone, a Samsung, or another type of smartphone, you can clean your phone’s screen quickly and easily. You need to know how to do it the right way, however, to avoid damaging your device. Check if your manufacturer has any specific cleaning guidelines for your particular phone model. If not, follow these tips for a squeaky-clean phone.

How to Clean Your Phone Screen

First, you’ll need to buy a microfiber cloth to clean your phone. Pick one up for a few dollars online or at a camera store, electronics store, or hardware store. You might even have one already — most eyeglasses come with a small microfiber lens cloth, which is the perfect size for cleaning a phone screen. If you’re lucky, your phone may have come with its very own cleaning cloth.

If your phone screen isn’t particularly dirty, all you need to do is give it a quick cleaning with a microfiber or other scratch-resistant cloth. (Be careful: Many towelettes or basic cloths can scratch the phone screen.) Apple recommends dampening the cloth slightly. Clean the screen using gentle strokes. Do this on a daily basis to keep your phone screen clean and clear of marks and smudges. Some people suggest using a piece of Scotch tape to remove dust and dirt from a phone screen, but a microfiber cloth may be easier and more effective.

According to Molly Maid President Meg Roberts, however, the best way to clean your phone screen is with a cotton swab dipped in diluted rubbing alcohol. Before you start, remove your phone case, and turn off your phone. Take care not to use too much rubbing alcohol, as it may seep inside the phone. After you’ve given the screen a thorough cleaning with rubbing alcohol, grab a new cotton swab, dip it in water, and clean the screen with single strokes. Roberts suggests doing this to both the front and back of your phone about once a week. An alternative to rubbing alcohol is methylated spirit. Tech blogger Ebuka suggests dipping a piece of cotton wool into some methylated spirit and lightly dabbing the screen. Ebuka recommends letting the methylated spirit evaporate before wiping the phone clean with a microfiber cloth.

If you don’t have a cotton swab or cotton wool, you can use a spray bottle to apply a diluted alcohol solution. Fill your spray bottle halfway with distilled or bottled water. Tap water isn’t as pure as bottled water, so it may contain contaminants that can damage your phone screen. Fill the rest of the bottle with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, not higher percentage formulas, which are too harsh. Screw the cap back on the spray bottle, and give it a good shake to mix the contents.

Lightly spray the solution on a scratch-resistant (microfiber or lint-free) cloth, taking care not to soak the cloth completely; don’t spray the solution directly on your phone. Rub the cloth across your phone screen, gently applying pressure to any stubborn dirt, greasy spots, or smudges.

Do this no more than once a week to avoid damaging the coating of your phone screen. (iPhones have an oleophobic — oil repellent — coating, which wears away over time with normal use. Abrasive products are likely to diminish the coating further.) Various commercial cleaning kits are available that claim to have everything you need to clean your phone screen. For example, the Tech Armor Cleaning Kit includes a microfiber cloth, two cleaning-solution sprays in different sizes, and a set of 20 double-strength cleaning wipes. Before you pay for a phone screen cleaning kit, do your research. Read reviews to find out what other phone users think. If a product gets negative reviews or causes damage to a phone screen, avoid it.

You might not have ever wondered how to clean a phone screen with toothpaste, but this can be a good method of removing small scratches.

Just apply a very small amount of toothpaste at the end of a cotton swab or soft cloth. Gently rub it into any scratches, using a circular motion and taking care not to rub too hard. (You don’t want to remove your phone screen’s surface coating.) To complete the process, wipe the entire screen with a slightly dampened soft cloth. Make sure you use traditional toothpaste and not gel-based toothpaste, as a gel product won’t get rid of any scratches and is likely to make a mess of your screen. If you don’t use a screen protector or phone case, it’s hard to completely avoid scratches, so make sure to add toothpaste to your “how to clean a phone screen” toolkit.

How to Disinfect a Phone Screen

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Your phone goes everywhere with you, comes into contact with lots of different environments and people, and therefore has the potential to pick up all sorts of bacteria. Knowing how to disinfect a phone screen can help keep your phone free from germs.

But before you reach for antibacterial wipes and disinfectants, you should know that they are abrasive and can damage or scratch your phone screen. Premoistened wipes may seem like the most convenient method for how to clean your phone screen, but they’re not the safest option.

You should also avoid chemical cleaning agents like Windex and other household solvents. Instead, clean your phone screen with alcohol, using the diluted alcohol solution method above. You can also clean a tablet screen with rubbing alcohol.

How to Clean a Phone Screen Protector

Screen protectors are thin pieces of plastic film that stick to the screens of small devices, protecting them from scratches and other damage while still allowing both light and touch through. Lint, hair, and dust can get trapped by the sticky side, however, obstructing the screen. Here’s what you need to know about how to clean a phone screen protector.

Ebuka recommends using a glass protector and case at all times to prevent damage to your phone and keep it in optimum condition for as long as possible. Another of his top tips is to put a thin piece of tissue behind your camera lens when your phone is in its case to prevent scratches to the camera. And if you have any tiny pieces of debris clogging up your phone’s speaker holes, carefully use the end of a paperclip or toothpick to clean them.

Additionally, take care of your phone when you take it out and about. If you don’t use a protective case, carry your handset where nothing can scratch it. When you know how to clean a cell phone screen properly, you can enjoy your phone for as long as possible.

This post was written by Claire Gillespie.

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