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How do I Clean a Cell Phone?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 16, 2024
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It is important to clean cell phones regularly, because dirt, oil, makeup and germs can build up on the phone from constant use. Not only does a clean cell phone look better, but it is also a good way to prevent getting sick and causing breakouts on your face where your cell phone rests against it. Following some simple steps will ensure a clean cell phone that is germ-free.

To get a clean cell phone, you need disinfecting wipes, rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, and glass cleaner. Never spray anything directly onto your cell phone, and do not use anything to clean it that can leave dust behind, such as tissues. Instead, use a soft cloth. Some suggest dismantling your cell phone to clean it -- but keep in mind that if you choose to do this, you must not get the battery wet. In addition, dismantling your phone may void your warranty, so do so at your own risk. It might be a good idea to remove just the battery before doing any cleaning.

To clean the phone, dip your soft cloth in rubbing alcohol and gently rub the case of the phone and the buttons. To clean the screen, spraying the cloth with glass cleaner and wiping the screen is an effective method. You can also use glass cleaner to clean around the buttons on the phone, if you have an older phone with a plastic case around the buttons. Again, if you've chosen to take your phone apart, you can scrub in between and behind the buttons.

Next, take a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and wipe in and around the connectors on the phone, for example where you plug the phone in to charge or where you connect headphones. Use the cotton swab on the speakers as well. These areas tend to trap dirt and lint, which can affect the way your phone works -- a clean cell phone will last longer than one that is clogged with dirt or oil. Never submerge these areas, or any other part of the phone, in the rubbing alcohol or glass cleaner.

If you don't have these items, using a disinfecting wipe will also get the job done. Some cell phone manufacturers offer specialized cleansing wipes for cell phones, but unless it will void your warranty if you don't use one of their specialized wipes, a standard disinfecting wipe found in stores will work just fine. Once you've finished cleaning and disinfecting and you have a clean cell phone, do not reassemble the phone or turn it on until everything is dry.

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Discussion Comments
By julies — On Apr 23, 2012

I found out the hard way how important it is to keep your battery dry. My phone wouldn't work right when I got done cleaning it and I found out the battery was damp.

When I took my cellular phone in for repair, they told me to put the battery in rice for a few days and let it completely dry out before inserting it back in my phone.

The rice helps suck all of the moisture out of it. I would have never thought of this, but it worked and now my phone works just fine.

I haven't taken my phone apart to clean it since then, but just wipe it down when it gets dirty or the screen has fingerprints on it.

By golf07 — On Apr 23, 2012

@bagley79 - I know some people are much more fanatical about this than others. Just like some people can't stand one tiny speck of dirt on their glasses, and others can have smudges on them and it doesn't seem to bother them.

My husband is in the construction business and has his cell phone with him all the time. If he didn't clean his phone once in awhile, it would look pretty bad.

He just uses a cotton swab to keep the screen and keypad wiped down from time to time. His phone is always in much worse shape than mine is.

I don't go to the trouble to buy any special wipes, but just use a little bit of rubbing alcohol and it does the trick.

By bagley79 — On Apr 22, 2012

Am I the only one who has never gone to the trouble to thoroughly clean their cell phone?

I must not be very good at cell phone maintenance, because the most I have ever done is wipe off the screen with the bottom of my shirt and figure I am good to go.

I usually have my cell phone in my purse, and as far as I'm concerned, it stays pretty clean. Many times when it is time to renew my contract and get a new phone, it still looks brand new.

I can see how someone might want to wipe off the screen and number pad, but I would be afraid if I took apart my phone to clean it, I would do something to mess it up.

By Kat919 — On Apr 22, 2012

Here's another tip: if you have trouble with cotton swabs spreading lint, you can get special cleaning swabs at office supply stores. I didn't know this until I found one by accident in the supply room at an office where I was working! They are great for cleaning keyboards, too - basically any tight area. These swabs are pre-moistened and they really get into nooks and crannies. You don't necessarily need to use one every week, but it's handy if you have a particularly dirty spot.

I agree that you should ask the manufacturer how to clean you cell phone screen. The article has good ideas, but some manufacturers have very specific rules!

By dfoster85 — On Apr 21, 2012
Rubbing alcohol is great for a clean mobile phone, but you might want to check your owner's manual first - some models can be damaged by it, especially the screens. You might be told to use another kind of cleanser or just plain water.

It's true that plain water won't disinfect your phone, but unless you routinely lend it to strangers who don't was their hands, you probably don't need actual disinfecting.

The best material to clean especially the screen part of a phone is a microfiber cleaning cloth. You can find these in the cleaning or household aisle of any general merchandise store and they really work! They are lint-free and have a surprising amount of cleaning power.

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