Tips for cleaning your cell phone

iPhone sitting on a table

Our phones are one of the dirtiest items we come in contact with day to day, and one of the least often cleaned items we own. We scowl at door handles and restaurant menus, but we bring our phones with us to the bathroom, tote them around with us everywhere else we go, and are constantly playing with them. The truth is that cell phones have more germs than a toilet seat! One study found over 25,000 bacteria per square inch on a cell phone. With COVID-19 on the rise, it’s going to be important to start cleaning these devices. But how do you clean them without damaging them?

The Oleophobic Layer

Water beaded up on an iPhone
Image courtesy of DariuszSankowski on Pixabay.

All phones and devices nowadays come with something called an oleophobic layer or coating. This coating usually comes from the factory and helps make your device more water resistant, as well as reduces the amount of visible finger prints and smudges on your phone. It’s why with a wipe of a cloth your device will look nearly new without any cleaning agents. This layer can break down with time, but can be removed entirely with harsh cleaning agents, so it’s important to understand what chemicals may harm your devices.

General Phone Cleaning Tips

Person using an iPhone
Image courtesy of DariuszSankowski on Pixabay.

It is generally suggested to avoid cleaning your device with alcohol based cleaners. However, Apple has recently updated its cleaning guidelines due to the spread of coronavirus to clean with a solution of 70% alcohol. You can use alcohol based wipes, or put alcohol on a rag or soft cloth, and clean your device that way.


  • Getting alcohol inside of ports or other opened areas without the use of a cotton swab to guide it
  • Over-using alcohol or a cleaning agent and slathering your phone with it
  • Don’t submerge your device
  • Using a scratchy cloth that can damage your device
  • Spraying directly onto the device. Instead, spray into a cloth or towel
  • Don’t use bleach

Apple suggests using Clorox brand wipes or alcohol wipes, whereas the CDC remarks that any household cleaner will work. Apple does warn that repeated cleaning may damage a device, so be certain not to overdo it.

Your Case is Concerning

Floral case on an iPhone
Image courtesy of Mylene2401 on Pixabay.

One of the other parts of your phone you’ll want to clean is your case. If you’re using a standard plastic case, that’s easy enough to clean with alcohol without damaging it. Just ensure that it’s dry before replacing it on your phone. Other phone cases such as leather or fabric cases can be harder to clean, so perhaps try removing those cases and replacing with something easier to clean until the threat of coronavirus and flu have passed. 


iPhone with airbuds
Image courtesy of PlushDesignStudio on Pixabay.

Since many of us are being cautious of touching our faces, using earbuds or a bluetooth earpiece may be a good way to avoid bringing your yucky phone to your face. This way, if you forget to clean your phone, you won’t be putting it to your ear to take a phone call.

We hope these tips help you stay safe and avoid germs and bacteria.

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