Cell phones have become essential to our daily lives. We take them everywhere, from our jobs to our favorite restaurants. Even if you wash your hands often throughout the day, it’s hard to avoid getting germs on your cell phone. As many states continue battling the spread of coronavirus, many of us find ourselves once again preoccupied with keeping our personal spaces clean and contaminant-free.

That includes your cell phone, which is a prime breeding ground for several contaminants, including E. coli and Streptococcus. Here are seven tips to help you keep your cell phone microbe-free. 

7 Tips on Properly Cleaning Your Cell Phone

While your cell phone likely isn't the prime culprit spreading germs that cause disease, it doesn’t hurt to keep it as clean as possible. Here's what you need to keep in mind during the cell phone cleaning process.

1. Avoid using harmful products. You don't need to use the same astringent cleaning products that you use on glass and plastic surfaces to clean your cell phone. You also shouldn't use cleaners containing bleach or metallics — these can end up damaging your phone. Abrasive products, like something you might use to clean your tile or grout, can also damage your cell phone, including the fingerprint-resistant coating and glass fronts popular on many high-end smartphones.

Both Apple and Samsung provide recommendations to customers about products that are safe to use as cleaning products. Samsung, for instance, recommends using a solution consisting of 70% isopropyl or ethanol alcohol. You can also use a product containing a hypochlorous acid-based disinfectant. Apple suggests avoiding using any spray cleaners, aerosol sprays, abrasives, or products containing bleach.

Other products you should avoid using when cleaning your cell phone include:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Window cleaner
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Compressed air
  • Makeup remover
  • Dish or hand soap
  • Vinegar

2. Use soft cloths for cleaning. Use a soft, lint-free microfiber cloth when cleaning your cell phone. If you need to clean your camera lens, you should use a special camera lens cleaning cloth. Try to avoid using toilet paper, paper towels, or anything similar. That way, you can avoid causing permanent damage to your cell phone.

3. Turn off your device. Before you start cleaning, make sure you remove the cover from your phone and completely power down your device.

4. Follow up with a disinfecting wipe. Once you’ve cleaned your phone using a microfiber cloth, wipe down the outside of your phone with a disinfecting wipe, like those sold by Lysol. That helps get rid of any germs left over from your initial cleaning. Make sure you wring out the wipe first to get rid of any excess moisture before you start cleaning. Try to avoid making contact with your cell phone ports.

5. Avoid unsanitary areas. Try to keep yourself from pulling your cell phone out in germ-infested spaces, like a public bathroom. That way, you can avoid accidentally setting your phone down somewhere unsanitary where someone likely sneezed or coughed. Remember, your phone’s going to pick up whatever is on the surface it touches.

6. Use tape on lint and sand. If you end up getting sand or lint inside your cell phone ports or outside crevices, try removing it with a piece of Scotch tape. First, try laying the tape along the creases of your phone and speaker. Next, roll the tape up and gently place it inside ports that need cleaning. The tape should pull out anything stuck inside.

If you have a smaller cell phone, try using a toothpick to gently nudge and remove anything stuck inside. You can also try vacuuming the debris out using a crevice tool designed for use with smaller appliances.

7. Be careful when using water. Many newer phones models boast how well their cell phones perform when wet. Phones rated at an IP67 or above for water resistance should withstand submersion in up to 1 meter of water for at least 30 minutes. For that reason, you can run water over your phone if you prefer cleaning it that way.

However, if you get water in the ports, you can’t charge your phone until they are completely dry. For that reason, it’s probably best to stick with a microfiber cloth and a cleaning product that won’t harm your cell phone.

Show Sources


Apple: “How to clean your Apple products.” 

CNBC: “CDC says 7-day average of daily U.S. Covid cases surpassed peak seen last summer.”

CNET: “How to clean your phone the right way without destroying the screen", “How waterproof is your Android phone or iPhone? Here's what IP68 and IP67 ratings mean.” 

European HIV/AIDS Academy: “High level bacterial contamination of secondary school students’ mobile phones.

FCC: “How to Sanitize Your Phone and Other Devices.” 

Good Housekeeping: “How to Clean Your Phone the Right Way, According to Experts.”

Prevention: “How to Clean Your Cell Phone the Right Way, According to a Germ Expert.” 

Samsung: “Keep your Galaxy devices clean.”

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