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How To Clean iPhone Screen: 5 Helpful Tips

How To Clean iPhone Screen: 5 Helpful Tips

When we think about how often we touch our phones, it really isn’t surprising that they’re considered one of the dirtiest objects we own. This makes it important to regularly disinfect them.

But before you reach for a cleaning spray, let’s go over the best practices for cleaning your iPhone screen (hint: it’s very different from cleaning your leather). 

Read on for Andar’s guide on why your iPhone harbors so much bacteria and why household cleaners should be avoided.

Then, we give out the top tips for cleaning your iPhone based on the model you currently have. 

Why Does My Phone Screen Get So Dirty?

The simple answer to this question is that we’re constantly touching things with germs on them and then reaching for our phones. Indeed, one study found that an average user checks their phone 52 times per day.

If you consider how many times we pick phones without checking them, that number becomes significantly higher. Every time you slide, tap a sleep/wake button, or text your phone feels all of that.

While we wash our hands when we come home, before we eat, and after taking public transportation, we seldom do so before reaching for our phones. So, it’s completely unsurprising that bacteria accumulates on our phones to the tune of 17,000 different bacterial strains on the average cell phone. 

And get ready for the most disgusting part: Scientists found that cell phones carry ten times as much bacteria as toilet seats. Why is this? Well, over 90% of Americans use their phone in the bathroom. When a toilet is flushed, germs are sprayed everywhere, including your phone. 

What’s more, one in six smartphone owners have dropped their phone in the toilet, and the jury is still out on whether they had disinfected it right after. For this reason, it’s really no wonder that fecal bacteria have been discovered on cell phones. 

Of course, there are other (non-bacterial) reasons your phone gets dirty. From the natural oil that’s secreted from your hands to makeup that rubs off to the occasional sugary coffee spill, your phone is literally imprinted with all the messy nuances of your day.Plus, if you keep your phone in your pants, even the ink and dyes in your garment's factors can rub off on your screen.

Is It Really That Important To Clean My Phone Screen?

Now that we have a good overview of the true state of our phones, let’s consider a practical question: Do we really need to worry about the germs on our phones?

Well, out of the thousands of strains of bacteria that can be found on your phone, many are harmless organisms that won’t harm you in any way. Bacteria are all around us; some even live on our skin (the screen protector for people) and inside our bodies. 

But there’s still reason to worry about the bacteria that your phone harbors. As we mentioned above, fecal bacteria has been found on phones. Scientists have also discovered other serious bacterial strains and even some viruses such as influenza. This won’t automatically make you sick, but it can still increase your chances of coming into contact with a pathogen. 

For this reason, we’d say that cleaning your phone screen is pretty important. And although you can’t see bacteria and viruses with the naked eye, smudges are one thing that are super visible, which is just another reason why cleaning is important. 

Tools of the Trade for Cleaning Your iPhone

Now that we’ve gone over the importance of cleaning your phone screen, let’s move on to the nitty-gritty of how to get this done.

Here are the items in your screen cleaner kit you need to clean your phone (and some that you should avoid):

What to Use

  • Soft Microfiber Cloth: This lint-free cloth is made of tiny fibers that have the ability to hook onto dirt, dust, and bacteria. Plus, a clean cloth like this is super absorbent and soft enough to not scratch your phone screen. 
  • Alcohol Wipes: With caution, grab a pack of 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes for a superior cleaning solution. These can be risky, so make sure to get wipes that won't do more harm than good. 
  • Q-Tips/Cotton Swabs: These are perfect for getting into the nooks and crannies around your phone’s protective screen and cover. 

What To Avoid

  • Paper Towels: Even though it’s something we all have on hand, paper towels can be too abrasive for your phone screen. What’s more, they can leave behind unsightly bits of paper. 
  • Any Abrasive Cleaner: Being gentle is key when cleaning your phone. Cleaning agents that we commonly use in our homes (like those with solvents or ammonia) may be effective for cleaning floors and surfaces. However, they can damage your iPhone screen. Avoid items like hydrogen peroxide, aerosol sprays, window cleaners, and similar abrasives.
  • Compressed Air Duster: The jury is still out on this one too. In theory, these devices can push bacteria further into the crevices of your phone. Besides, why invest in this product when the Q-tips that you already have at home can do a better job?

How To Clean Your iPhone Screen

How you clean your iPhone screen depends on which iPhone model you currently have. 

There are a lot of models to keep track of. In case you forgot which model you have, here’s an easy way to check: Grab your iPhone and go to Settings > General > About. The third row should display the model name. 

Once you get that figured out, follow these manufacturer-approved tips for cleaning your iPhone. 

If You Have an iPhone 11, 12, or 13

The latest iPhone models have a glass touch screen with a matte finish. This makes it more susceptible to collecting stains from everything it comes in contact with, including your hands, clothes, and everything in your bag.

On the bright side, this iPhone screen does have a fingerprint-resistant coating. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do well with harsh cleaning products, so being gentle is key when cleaning it.

Aside from that, you can follow these steps to make sure your iPhone screen is as clean as can be:

  1. Turn off your iPhone to avoid accidentally texting or calling someone.
  2. Remove your phone case. (We’re all for cleaning your leather case, but remember there’s a specific way to do it.)
  3. Using a damp microfiber cloth, gently wipe your whole phone in circular motions (warning: make sure to avoid any ports or openings). 
  4. For an added disinfectant, use a wet alcohol wipe and clean your iPhone all around.  
  5. Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe away any excess moisture and to get rid of any wet streaks on your iPhone.  

There you have it: a pain-free way to clean your iPhone screen without doing any damage to it. 

If You Have an iPhone 7, 8, X, or Second-Generation SE

You can follow the cleaning instructions listed above because these models are very similar. However, you might have noticed that these models have a fingerprint-resistant coating meant to repel oil on the screen.

The iPhone 8 (and beyond) has it on the back, as well. If you want to keep the coating intact, try to avoid harsh cleaning products and abrasive materials. 

If You Have an iPhone 5S, 6, or first-generation SE

You can follow the same exact cleaning instructions as the ones listed above but keep in mind one thing: This iPhone has a Home button that can be used with Touch ID. So, be extra gentle when cleaning this part and avoid getting moisture on it at all costs. 

If You Have an iPhone 5 or 5C

In a similar way, you can follow the cleaning instructions listed above, but remember that this iPhone has a SIM tray opening. You can absolutely clean it and even use a small amount of rubbing alcohol for extra disinfection.

But it’s important to keep excess moisture away from the opening as that can potentially damage your iPhone. 

If You Have Older Models

Those with new iPhone models take for granted the many new specs that make cleaning a breeze, namely the absence of a home button, lack of a separate headphone jack, and resistance to water. But those of us with older models still have to be extra careful when cleaning our Phones.

While you can still follow the cleaning instructions above, be extra careful about getting any moisture near the many ports the older models have. Keep in mind that your iPad screen needs to be cleaned as well. Both your iPad and your Mac are not water-resistant at all. 

Here’s To a Clean(ish) Phone

Since our phones go pretty much everywhere we go, we can’t expect them to remain 100% germ-free all the time. But knowing what we know about how they collect germs and the best ways to clean them, we hope that you feel at least a little more comfortable with giving your iPhone a wipe-down every once in a while. 


Our Sources:

Survey: Americans Now Check Their Smartphones a Whopping 52 Times a Day | BG 

Your Cell Phone Is 10 Times Dirtier Than a Toilet Seat | Time 

Who Uses Their Phone on the Toilet? Most of Us | PC Mag