How to Clean Your Cell Phone—And How Often You Should

Your phone is grosser than you realize. Here's how to properly clean it.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.

woman cleaning mobile smart phone with fabricipopba/Getty Images
Throughout the day, your hands are touching a number of different surfaces that a lot of other people have also touched, which means they probably have a lot of germs on them. And that also means that your phone has a lot of germs on it because most people use their phones constantly. So, just like you need to wash your hands throughout the day to ensure that they’re clean, you also need to be cleaning your phone. If you want to be grossed out, this is how dirty your phone screen actually is.

How often should you clean your cell phone?

“I advise giving it a good cleaning it twice a month, but with the rise of the coronavirus,  I advise that you do this whenever you come back home,” says Anh Trinh, Managing Editor of GeekWithLaptop. “So if you go out every day because of work, then you’ll have to clean your phone daily. It might sound tedious, but it will only take a minute or two to do, just like handwashing.”

How do you clean your phone?

  1. Remove your case and clean it by running it under warm water or wiping it down with a disinfecting wipe. Leave it off your phone to let it dry.
  2. Take a Q-tip, or something similar, and clean off grooves in your phone where things might build up such as the speaker grills, charging port, lock button, and earpiece.
  3. Gently wipe down your entire phone using an antiseptic phone wipe. Phone tech expert, Sarah McConomy recommends these:
  4. If you want to be extra thorough at removing germs and bacteria from your phone, you can purchase a phone sanitizer that uses UV light to clean your phone.
  5. If there are any streaks left on your phone, use a microfiber cloth to finish cleaning it.

What are the areas that people commonly miss when cleaning their phone?

A lot of people forget to remove their cases when cleaning their phone, says McConomy. Germs can get caught in the corners of the case so it’s important to remove it when cleaning. McConomy also notes that if you have a screen protector that is pulling up on the sides or the corners that bacteria can build up there making it difficult to clean. You’re better off removing the screen protector, cleaning your phone, and then applying a new one. And most importantly, don’t forget to clean your camera lens and around the edges. You’ll notice that your pictures will start to come out blurry the more you let grim and smudges build up on your camera lens. Besides not cleaning it enough, here are 15 things you’re doing to your iPhone that Apple experts wouldn’t.

What products or cleaning methods should you avoid when cleaning your phone?

“Avoid using household cleaners and alcohol. Also, don’t use tissues or other cloths, use microfiber cloths to ensure that you don’t damage the screen,” says Trinh. “These solutions are so strong that they’ll damage your phone’s LCD screen as well as other intricate components of your phone. Additionally, your phone is not a computer so avoid using compressed air to blow away dust on your phone’s components.”

McConomy adds that you should also avoid using products with too much liquid, even if they are made for cleaning phones. They could seep into your device and cause damage.

Are there any differences to keep in mind when it comes to cleaning an iPhone versus and Android?

When it comes to cleaning an iPhone versus an Android there aren’t really any differences. They are both expensive pieces of technology though so you need to take care when scrubbing them down. “Just be careful of the type of screen and applying too much pressure when wiping—as too much pressure could cause LCD damage behind the digitizer/glass,” says McConomy. “The more expensive the phone, usually the more expensive the screen to replace.” Now that your phone is clean, start cleaning the rest of your house—just make sure to avoid these cleaning mistakes that actually make your home dirtier.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Assistant Digital Managing Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. When she’s not writing for rd.com or keeping the 650+ pieces of content our team produces every month organized, she likes watching HGTV, going on Target runs, and searching through Instagram to find new corgi accounts to follow.