How to clean your mobile phone

Let’s face it - we can’t go a day without touching our phones. We take them everywhere we go, use them constantly between tasks, and frequently hand them to others to look at - so it’s no wonder our mobiles are considered ten times dirtier than a toilet seat

No one wants to carry around so many germs - that's why you really need to know how to best clean your phone. 

Why should you clean your phone?

As we said earlier, mobile phones carry ten times more bacteria than an average toilet seat. This means the chance of contamination and your exposure to germs are increased.

Think about it: when you touch your phone screen, those germs are on your fingers. People don’t tend to wash their hands after touching their phones before doing something else, so if you eat, the germs that were on your hands are now inside your body. 

Likewise, if you answer a call and place the speaker up by your ear, that’s another way foreign bacteria could enter the body. 

All of this exposure can increase the risks of you catching an illness, such as a cold or the flu, or a contagious disease. It’s especially important to be health conscious right now with the Coronavirus pandemic, so we need to clean our devices more regularly and thoroughly to stay safe. 

How to clean your phone properly

You have several different options for cleaning your phone, depending on how thoroughly it needs to be done. Regardless of which method you pick, your phone should be:

  • switched off
  • removed out of its case
  • unplugged from any electrics

Method 1: 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes

Apple and Google have both stated that you can safely use 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes on their smartphones to clean the display, keyboard, and overall exterior. 

Just don’t heavily scrub any parts of your phone, or try to stick the wipes inside smaller areas of the phone, like the charging port or speakers, as this can damage them. 

Method 2: Soap and water

The BBC published that mild soap and water can be an effective method of cleaning your phone, as recommended by microbiologist Dr Lena Ciric.

However, phones should not be submerged in water, or soapy solutions, as this can cause irreversible damage and break your device. 

Instead, mix a small amount of water and household soap (not bleach!) in a bucket and soak a microfibre cloth into the liquid. Microfibre cloths are less abrasive than other towels, so are less likely to cause scratches. 

Wring out the cloth so it’s left slightly damp, but not wet, and gently wipe over your phone screen and the back exterior. Once again, don’t try to clean inside any smaller areas of your smartphone. 

Method 3: Glasses cleaner

Similar to the alcohol wipes, glasses cleaner can be used to wipe your phone screen, as it’s designed to clean eyeglasses. While not as germ-fighting as alcohol, it’s a good option if you have some lying around. 

Glasses cleaner products tend to come with soft, microfibre cloths which you can use without fear of scratching your phone. 

Method 4: Water

You can always try to clean your phone with just water, but you should only try this if your phone has an IP rating and is waterproof. For example, the iPhone 12 range all have a waterproof rating of IP68, which means they can be submerged in six metres of water for a maximum of 30 minutes (though we still don’t recommend dunking your phone underwater).

You can simply wipe a damp cloth over your phone, avoiding any ports or internal entries, and leave it to dry for at least five minutes. 

If you have any cracks in your phone, avoid using water, as it can stay trapped beneath the surface and damage your phone. 

How to clean your case properly

It’s not just your handset that could be riddled in germs. Your hands will be constantly touching your case too, so this needs to be cleaned as often as your screen. How you clean your case depends on the material it’s made out of.

Plastic, rubber, and silicone

These are safe-to-wash materials that can be soaked in warm water and dish soap to clean. You can gently scrub at any stains or stubborn patches, and then dry with a microfibre cloth, or leave on the side. 

Leather

Leather shouldn’t be submerged in any liquid, so instead you can use a damp cloth and unfragranced/unscented hand soap to clean it.

Wood

Wipe regularly with a dry microfibre cloth. You can’t apply water or most cleaning products to wood, as they will damage it over time. 

Cases with electronic parts

You may have to search online for cleaning instructions specific to a certain case, like the MagSafe phones and cases, which have electrics built inside. Apple have published guidance on cleaning MagSafe cases, so seek out the support section of your smartphone or case for extra advice. 

How to clean your accessories properly

Our phones often come with other accessories, such as earphones. AirPods, for example, can be cleaned using a dry, lint-free cloth and cotton swabs in the speakers. 

What not to use or do when cleaning

  • Chemicals - don’t use bleach or a combination of harsher cleaning products to concoct your own solution. Many manufacturers warn that using these sorts of products can harm your smartphone
  • Abrasive cloths - microfibre cloths are the only towels recommended to use on phones and screens, as many other sorts of sheets and towels can scratch or wear down the protective layer on your phone. Kitchen roll, for example, is too harsh to use on a screen
  • Scrubbing - when cleaning your phone and case you should do it gently. That means no scrubbing or harsh wiping, as it can cause damage
  • Avoid cleaning anywhere internal - the internal structure of your smartphone is really susceptible to damage from trapped water or soap, so never try to clean inside any port or speakers, or other opened areas. Simply wipe over with a dry cloth to keep these clean and dust-free
  • Not drying - make sure you leave your phone and case to dry properly before putting them back on, as this can leave water trapped between the two materials, which can create mould

If we wash our hands every time we come in contact with something that is possibly contaminated, we should do the same with our smartphones. After all, they do a lot for us. 


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