How to Properly Clean Your Cell Phone

How to Properly Clean Your Cell Phone
Photo: Shutterstock

By now, we all know the basic COVID protocol; frequent hand-washing and avoid touching your face. But these rules don’t do much good unless you know how to properly clean your cell phone as well.

Why does it matter?

A 2017 study in Germs looked at bacteria and viruses on the surface of 27 mobile phones, and discovered a “high level of bacterial contamination” across the board. And just think about it, our fingers are touching our screens all day, and just as regularly, we’re putting our phones against our face. Our cell phones are two-dimensional cesspools.

It’s no wonder The New York Times warned readers back in March 2020 that “your phone is filthy.” That was just as the pandemic was beginning. But even without COVID concerns, it’s important to clean these things, which begs the question: How do you properly clean your cell phone and prevent the spread of hazardous viruses or bacteria?

Here’s what you need to do.

1. Polish with a Microfiber Cloth

Be sure to first remove your phone from its case. Then, take a microfiber cloth, like the kind that are usually included in an eyeglass case. Gently wipe the surface of your phone to remove smudges and grease.

“This will physically remove germs, due to the friction between the cloth and the glass surface,” explains Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab. Note that wiping down your phone won’t kill germs, but will at least remove them from the phone’s surface. (Be sure to throw your cloth in with the laundry afterward.)

2. Clean with Disinfectant Wipes

Lysol disinfectant wipes are really the best choice for this task. That’s because Lysol assures customers that the chemicals on their wipes are safe for use on tech products. Of course, Clorox wipes will do just fine as well—in fact, they are the brand suggested by Apple for use on their devices. You should wipe every surface of your phone while avoiding the ports.

3. Allow to Air Dry

The chemicals in disinfectant wipes are pretty fast-drying, so your phone will probably be ready for use again within five minutes. As explained in Good Housekeeping, “Lysol spray is most effective if left to air dry on surfaces for at least 10 minutes.” But you don’t have to wait that long to use your phone. If you’re in a rush, wipe away any remaining moisture with a dry cloth.

4. Repeat on Your Phone Case

If you keep your phone in a case, the exterior is getting even more exposure to germs than the actual phone. You should be disinfecting the case just as frequently as the phone, following the same steps listed above.

How Often Should I Clean It?

Forte suggests wiping down your cell with a microfiber cloth at least once daily. “You don’t have to do a deep clean every day,” she clarifies, “but I keep a few microfiber cloths handy at my desk and at home, and I use them to quickly wipe away grime on my screen every day.”

As for a full disinfection, Forte says, “during the colder months, I recommend using a Lysol wipe every other day or at least twice a week.”

And, of course, keep washing your hands.

How to Properly Clean Your Cell Phone — Sources: Good Housekeeping, The New York Times, Germs, NIH 2017 study