Coronavirus: How to clean your phone properly

UPDATED: We’ve added the latest advice from Apple and Samsung on how to clean your phone.

Multiple scientific studies have shown your phone’s touchscreen is a magnet for bacteria – so with the global spread of Covid-19, keeping it clean is more important than ever.

Viruses can cling to glass surfaces for up to 96 hours, multiple days’ worth of potential infection.

So how should you clean your phone? Here’s our guide.

Don’t forget to also read our guide to cleaning your keyboard and mouse.

Be Gentle – but you CAN use disinfecting wipes

Be really careful with what you use to clean your phone’s screen. It’s pretty delicate, and also expensive if you ruin it and need to replace it.

Initially, phone makers said Clorox and other disinfecting wipes are not the way to do it.

However, recently updated advice from Apple says you CAN use them.

It updated its device cleaning page to say that you could wipe the “hard, nonporous parts” of your device with a Clorox wipe or 70 percent isopropyl alcohol.

However, it warns users to be careful.

“Don’t use bleach. Avoid getting moisture in any opening, and don’t submerge your Apple product in any cleaning agents. Don’t use on fabric or leather surfaces.”

Samsung updated its cleaning guidance to include alcohol-based cleaners.

It now advises Galaxy owners to dampen a cloth with a disinfectant or alcohol-based solution and wipe gently. It says not to apply liquid directly onto your phone.

How to clean your phone properly – step by step

  1. Use TWO microfiber cloths

    Apple specifically recommends a camera lens cloth, if you want to follow its advice.

  2. Unplug any cables and turn your phone off

    Also remove any accessories such as a case (which you’ll also clean using the same method).

  3. Mix some gentle hand soap with water

  4. Dip one of the cloths into the soap solution.

    You want a damp cloth, so make sure to wring it out to remove any excess water. 

  5. Wipe your phone thoroughly with the damp cloth, making sure sure you get the front, back, and the sides.

    To clean screens, touchpads and exteriors, move a flat-weave microfiber cloth in an S pattern, starting from the top corner and zigzagging down to the bottom of the screen to avoid streaks and to cover larger areas.

  6. DON’T dip your phone in cleaning solution

    Never,ever dunk your phone into the cleaning solution, even if your phone is water-resistant.

  7. Use a dry lint-free cloth to wipe your phone down

    Avoid using paper towels if you can.

Buy a Microfiber cloth

Before you start, power down the device, remove any cases, and unplug any accessories so you’ve got full access to the phone.

The best cleaning tool to get is simple – a microfiber cloth

Apple specifically recommends a camera lens cloth, if you want to follow its advice.

Google says it’s OK to use cleaning wipes on Pixel handsets, but use them sparingly, well away from the ports and buttons. If possible buy ones that have been specifically approved for use on electronics.

Careful cleaning

Start without any fluids at all, just a little pressure.

If you need to, add warm and soapy water to the mix. Use it sparingly, applying it with your cloth, and drying off the device carefully with another cloth. 

Be really careful to avoid getting excess moisture around ports and buttons.

If your phone is waterproof (and please triple check online – you’re looking for something saying the phone is “fully IP68 rated” then you can place the phone in a bowl of clean water for a few minutes, then leave it to dry on a paper towel or dab the moisture off with a cloth.

We’d recommend looking online for device-specific instructions, too.

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