10 Tips for Cleaning Phone Cases

All good phone cases will keep your device safe from scratches, cracks, and falls, but the tight fit makes it easy for dirt to end up trapped in weird places. In fact, underneath your cute phone case, your device itself might have more bacteria than a toilet seat!

Because we use our phones day in and day out, and most of us take our phones everywhere we go, the cases get exposed to it all.

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Even if your phone case doesn't have any visible stains on it, just being out in the world means bacteria, dust, dirt, and other grimy substances can end up inside the case, right up against your phone. 

If you want to keep your phone clean, there are a few tricks and tips to make it easier. Keep reading to learn more!

1. Know Your Material

10 Tips for Cleaning Phone Cases

The right way to clean your phone case depends on the material the case is made of. Some cleaners can destroy plastic or rubber or leather, others might discolor trendy phone cases made with different resins. So before you get down to business, find out what your trendy phone cases are made of, so you can decide on the right way to clean them.


Polycarbonate is one of the most popular materials for an phone cases because it's tough and durable. It doesn't absorb liquids like some other materials can, and makes a hard outer shell for your phone.

Polycarbonate phone cases can be tricky to clean, but ironically they are easier to sanitize compared to materials like rubber, leather, or wood. The resin polymer can take some heat, and bleach won't destroy the texture as it does in some other cases.


Another popular option for phone cases is silicone, for similar reasons to polycarbonate. Silicone cases are tough, but also flexible and softer to the touch, making them less slippery and easier to grip. Silicone also acts as a built-in shock absorber, so many protective cases use it in key areas.

One downside of silicone is that dirt and grime can get into any little crevices or cracks in the material, making it a little harder to clean. This is especially true if the case is textured for grip.

Like with polycarbonate, it's easier to sanitize because it can stand up to higher heat, and it doesn't degrade as much when exposed to things like rubbing alcohol or diluted bleach.


There's no question that leather phone cases look chic, but they can be tricky to keep clean. Exposure to water can damage leather, and the material may tend to retain moisture if you don't clean it properly, which can damage your phone.

There are some key differences when it comes to how to clean a phone case made of leather versus other materials, but the most important tip is to avoid anything that will get your leather case wet.


While very few phone cases are made entirely of wood, plenty of cases feature pieces of wood as decorative additions. Wood is delicate, and doesn't react well to bleach or other harsh chemicals. You should also be careful when exposing any wood portions of your case to water.

There are some key tips and tricks for cleaning any wood components on your phone case, but the important thing is to make sure you dry wooden surfaces quickly and don't expose them to harsh chemicals.


Next to silicone and polycarbonate, rubber is a popular choice for kids' phones, because it's resilient. The bouncy qualities of rubber mean that it absorbs shocks from falls easily, keeping your screen from shattering. But rubber presents some challenges when it comes to cleaning.

Bleach is a no-go with rubber since it can degrade the material and cause thin spots and cracks. Rubber also isn't quite as heat resistant as silicone, so when you sanitize rubber phone cases, you'll need to be careful. 

By knowing the material your phone case is made from, you can tackle getting it clean the right way. But you should also know whether your goal is to clean your phone or to sanitize it. Your phone case needs both, but they are very different processes.

2. Cleaning vs Sanitizing Phone Cases

Cleaning and sanitizing your phone cases are both important, but the two processes are different and have different goals.

Cleaning your phone case involves removing surface dirt, discolorations or stains that might come about from wear and tear. Usually, you use some kind of soap and water to clean your case, and you want to dry your case thoroughly after cleaning.

Sanitizing is the process of killing bacteria and other germs that live on the surface and in the crevices and cracks on your case. Usually, this process involves either heat or sanitizing products like bleach, rubbing alcohol, or other substances that kill germs. It won't remove dirt, oils, or stains.

Method matters

Some methods work better for some materials over others when it comes to both cleaning and sanitizing. The method you use for sanitizing your phone should be safe for the material, just like the method you use for cleaning your phone.

Keep in mind also that the method you use matters for making sure your phone case is sanitized. Some methods just won't work as well for certain materials and may leave behind bacteria and other germs that can make you sick. Other methods might leave behind chemical residue that can cause problems.

Cleaning vs Stain Removal

Stain removal is part of the cleaning process, but only one part. For removing stains, you want to approach the process in a targeted way, as opposed to generally removing dirt and oils from the surface. Discoloration from smoke, pollution, and other sources requires a different approach to generalized cleaning.

It's a good idea to remove any stains from your phone case before tackling the general clean, and you should do stain removal and cleaning before you move to the sanitizing step.

3. Clean Little and Often

It's better to keep your phone consistently clean than it is to have to deep-clean it every time. For most types of phone cases, spot cleaning and occasionally wiping them down will help prevent major stains, as well as make it easier to sanitize the phone case.

You should get into the habit of wiping down the outside of your phone case every day. Using a disinfecting and cleaning wipe specifically made for electronics, or just a soft microfiber cloth with a little bit of cleaning spray, you can prevent dirt and germs from building up. 

Of course, you'll still want to give your whole phone case a good cleaning, especially since dirt and dust and other particles can end up between the case and your phone. By carefully removing your case and cleaning it thoroughly every week, you can save yourself a lot of trouble.

Use More Than One Case for Your Phone

Your phone is vulnerable when it's not in a case, so to make sure your phone itself stays safe while you're cleaning your favorite trendy phone cases, make sure you own more than one. That way you can protect your phone while you scrub down your case and make it as good as new.

If you own and use several cases, it's easy to swap them out so that you don't find yourself having to clean many at once. Get into a rotation, and your phone will never be vulnerable for more than a few moments while you switch the cases out.

4. How to Clean Polycarbonate and Silicone Cases

Polycarbonate cases are a great investment because they're easy to switch out, they do an excellent job protecting your phone from different types of damage, and they come in just about any pattern and color you can imagine. Cleaning them can seem tricky, but it's easy once you know what to do.

What You'll Need

To get your polycarbonate or silicone case squeaky-clean, you don't need a lot of special tools:

  • Mild dish soap like Dawn, with no abrasives
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • a flat container like a dish bin or Tupperware, larger than the case
  • soft toothbrush
  • soft cloth like a microfiber towel

Once you've got everything together and your phone is out of the case, the cleaning process is just as simple.


Mix a few drops of dish soap and the warm water in your container, making sure to work up some suds. Soak the empty case in the soapy water for a few minutes, to give it time to loosen any dirt or oils on the surface. 

Once the soapy water has had some time to work on the grime, go over every inch of the case with the toothbrush. If you find stubborn spots where dirt or other substances are encrusted, apply a drop of soap to the toothbrush and give it a little extra attention.

Once you're satisfied that your case is clean, rinse away the soap residue and wipe it down with a soft cloth. Good as new!

5. Cleaning Leather Cases

Cleaning leather cases is a bit more complicated than polycarbonate or silicone cases, but it doesn't have to be difficult. Keeping your leather phone cases clean is mostly a matter of using the right products, but fortunately, the specialized soap isn't very expensive and lasts a long time.

One vitally important thing: never, ever soak your leather case. 

What You Need

The supplies for cleaning your leather phone cases are pretty simple, with one key difference.

  • Warm water
  • Mild hand soap
  • Saddle soap or other leather soap
  • 2-3 Soft cloths, like microfiber
  • Container or Tupperware for the case

You definitely don't want to soak your leather case, so the method is a little different too.


Use the container to make a soapy solution of water and hand soap, but don't put the case directly into the sudsy water. Instead, dip one of the cloths into the water and then wring it out. You want it to be damp, but not too dry to clean your case.

Rub the damp, soapy cloth all over your case, getting into any nooks and crannies you can see. If the cloth gets dirty, dip it back into the soapy water and wring it out again. Rub in circular motions, and make sure to be gentle and take your time. 

When your case is clean, wipe it down with a damp cloth with no soap, and then dry it off with a dry cloth.

To keep your leather in good condition, take a damp cloth and add a little bit of saddle soap or other leather conditioners to it. Rub the soapy cloth into the leather in circular motions until it's fully coated, and then wipe away the excess with a clean, dry cloth. 

If you clean and condition your leather case weekly, it should look good as new for years.

6. Cleaning Wood Phone Cases

While few trendy phone cases are made entirely of wood, many cases use wood as a decorative accent. You shouldn't soak the wood for similar reasons to leather, because it will damage the material. Instead, clean your wood phone cases with some basic household products.

What You Need

Unlike leather phone cases, wood cases don't need a special soap to keep them clean.

  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 2 cups of water
  • Spray bottle
  • Soft cloth
  • Optional: wood cleaner like Pledge

Wood is also easy to clean unless it becomes very stained.


To make your wood phone case cleaner, mix up the vinegar and the water in your spray bottle, and mist each surface of your case. Don't drench the case, but get it thoroughly misted in the vinegar-water solution. Wipe your case down with the soft cloth, and you're done.

If you notice any stains or tough spots, you can use a soft toothbrush to loosen them before wiping them down.

As an optional extra step, you can dampen the cloth with a little bit of wood cleaner like Pledge or Method Wood and Furniture cleaner, and wipe the wooden surfaces down with it. Remove any leftover wood soap with a dry, clean cloth. This will help keep the wooden surface glossy.

7. Sanitizing Your Phone Case

Cleaning your phone case removes the dirt and dust and oils, but the scariest thing on your phone case isn't the stuff that makes it look dirty. Instead, it's the invisible bacteria and other germs that can make you sick.

Sanitizing your phone case every week helps keep you healthier, and it can also help prevent the spread of germs. There are a few different ways to tackle this task, depending on the material of your phone case. 

Sanitizing Polycarbonate and Silicone Phone Cases

There are two methods for sanitizing cases made with polycarbonate resin or from silicone, both of which kill bacteria and viruses living on the case. These two materials are adaptable and tough, so don't be too afraid of damaging them as long as you use the right method.

Heat Method

This method is a little risky if you use it on polycarbonate cases that have decorations applied to the outside, but for clear cases and most silicone cases, it's perfectly safe.

Boil some water in a kettle or on the stovetop, and place your clean, empty cases in a heat-proof bowl. Once the water has boiled, wait a few minutes off the heat, and then pour the water over the cases, using a pair of tongs to make sure every surface of the case gets the heat. 

Keep the case in the hot water for about ten minutes. The heat is high enough to kill the majority of bacteria and viruses on the case, without damaging it.

Note: do not boil your case, or put your case in the kettle or pot you use while you're heating the water. This can cause the case to shrink. 

Chemical Method

The chemical method for sanitizing your polycarbonate or silicone case is just as easy. Mix up a solution of one tablespoon of liquid bleach and one cup of water. You will want to use gloves, and wear clothes that you don't mind getting bleach on.

Put the bleach and water solution into a container large enough and deep enough to submerge your phone case in. Then, simply let the polycarbonate or silicone phone case sit in the bleach solution for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing it off. Pat it dry, and let it finish air drying before you put it back on your phone.

8. Sanitizing Other Phone Cases

This method also works for polycarbonate and silicone cases, but it's important to know how to sanitize phone cases that are more sensitive to chemicals and temperature. The good news is that it's simple.

All you need is rubbing alcohol (also known as isopropyl alcohol) and a clean cloth or paper towel. Dip the cloth or paper towel into the rubbing alcohol (or pour the alcohol on the towel), and wipe down every surface of the phone case thoroughly. Let the case air dry, and you're good to go!

9. Removing Stubborn Stains

Sometimes, despite taking good care of your phone and the case it comes in, you might encounter tough, stubborn stains or discoloration. This is one of the major drawbacks of clear phone cases because any discoloration or staining ruins the look.

The process for removing these is a little different from general cleaning, but there are some phone case cleaning tips specifically for stains and discoloration.

Baking Soda and Soap

For silicone and polycarbonate cases, you can use a paste made of baking soda and soap to get a little more scrubbing power behind your cleaning efforts. Be careful with some plastic cases, however. Baking soda is abrasive and it can scratch softer surfaces. 

That's also why it's not the best choice for stains on leather or false leather phone cases. For leather cases, you can try a fabric stain remover approved for leather. Make sure to check the manufacturer's guidelines before using it on your phone case.

10. Keep Your Phone Clean, Too

A clean phone case isn't going to help much if the phone you put in it is dirty. When you clean your phone cases, make sure to clean your phone as well. This is as simple as wiping it down with a microfiber cloth or other soft material, damp with an electronics-safe disinfectant, or rubbing alcohol.

For more aggressive grime on your phone, you can use a dry or damp toothbrush on flat areas, but try not to go poking around too much on your own for things like the headphone jack or microphone, because you can damage them.

Several companies also make wipes specifically for electronics, to make keeping your phone clean even easier. Make sure to read the instructions and don't rinse your phone, since that would definitely cause water damage.

 If you can't find the wipes or don't want to spend the extra money, just be careful to avoid anything that can damage your phone. Most of all, avoid getting your phone very wet in the cleaning process since water damage can creep up.

Keep Your Phone Case Looking Brand-New 

Cleaning and sanitizing your phone case regularly will help keep it looking new for longer. It also helps keep your phone from carrying germs and prolongs the life of your phone.

In order to keep your phone cases clean, you have to know the materials they are made of and the best way to treat that material. Once you know those details, it's easy to take care of your cases.

And, of course, if you can't stand the idea of cleaning, you can always just get a new case. Check out our awesome phone cases, and so much more! 

Melissa Hau
Melissa is the Brand Manager for i-Blason. She was previously the Social Media Manager for multiple brands under the same group of companies.

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