Of all the things we handle with our hands, our phones have got to be some of the dirtiest. In fact, studies have found that our phones can be 7 times dirtier than the seat of a toilet.
If you're the proud owner of an iPhone and don't want it turning into a breeding ground for bacteria, you need to know how to sanitize it safely. Our guide will show you how to clean an iPhone (and keep it clean) without damaging its screen or delicate internal circuitry.
An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure
This is far more than just a pithy saying from doctors to patients. When it comes to keeping your iPhone clean and sanitary, it's better to take preventative measures than to have to deep-clean it yourself.
So, what can you do to keep your iPhone from becoming the latest hotspot for dust and germs in the first place?
Consider Using a Stylus
Part of the reason our phones become dirty is that they're in constant contact with our hands.
It doesn't matter how oleophobic the screen coating is on the latest iPhone. That device will attract fingerprints like nobody's business. So, to reduce contact, find a compatible stylus and use that to navigate through your commonly-used apps. (And no, unless you have an iPad, your Apple Pencil does not count as a compatible stylus.)
Keep Your Phone in a Case
The more exposed your iPhone is to the elements, the more likely it is to pick up germs that will be hard to disinfect. Keeping your phone in a case can prevent the phone itself from picking up the bacteria on your bathroom or kitchen counter. And let's face it, it's much easier to disinfect a case than it is to disinfect the device itself.
Use a Screen Protector
Using a screen protector is a good practice regardless, as it can keep your phone safe from falls and drops. You've already spent several hundred dollars on your phone. The last thing you need is to spend several hundred more to replace it after the screen shatters.
However, a screen protector is also a good idea from a sanitation perspective. Antimicrobial screen protectors exist, and those can prove helpful.
So, if you want effective protection that's less finicky to clean than the iPhone screen itself, check out these screen protectors.
Practice Good Hand Hygiene
Wash your hands in warm water with antibacterial soap. Dry your hands with paper towels or the air dryers rather than wiping them on your pants. Also, make sure to clean your hands after each exposure to a high-touch area.
Following these steps will not only reduce the number of bacteria on your phone, but reduce the oily fingerprints that build up on their surface as well.
How to Clean an iPhone: Don'ts
You may be wondering how to sanitize your iPhone aside from taking preventative measures.
So, when you want to sanitize your phone:
Don't Spray Cleaning Solution Directly on the Screen
Many cleaning solutions contain abrasive chemicals that shouldn't have direct contact (or any, really) with your iPhone's screen. They can ruin the coating, especially in concentrated bursts like a stream of chemicals right out of the nozzle. Plus, if there are any drips, the moisture could get into the ports of the device.
If that happens, you won't just have to contend with a dirty phone: You might have a broken one.
Don't Submerge It in Water (Or Use Water At All for Certain Devices)
Water damage occurs to 11% of phones each year. Don't make yours part of the statistics.
Also, just because you have an iPhone doesn't mean it's 100% waterproof. Make sure you check the features of your specific device before you bring it near water in any amount.
Don't Forget to Clean Your Case
One thing that many articles about iPhone cleaning tips ignore is the phone's case. If you clean the phone itself but don't clean the case you pried it out of, you're putting it right back into the germs you tried to clean. It's like throwing on a pair of dirty clothes right out of the shower.
Plus, if you don't keep your adorable iPhone case clean, it can look drab and gross instead of appealing. No one wants that.
Don't Clean Your Phone While It's Plugged In to Charge
Did you know that iPhones can overheat? While the latest iPhones are designed to turn off before they reach dangerous temperatures, they can still feel hot to the touch that will be past the flashpoint of more volatile cleaning substances.
One place where phones can get hot in a hurry is where they're plugged in and charging. So, don't try to clean your phone when you need it juiced up.
Cleaners to Avoid If You Have an iPhone
All the latest models come with an oleophobic coating on the screen to help them resist smudges and fingerprints. As we mentioned above, many cleaners use abrasive chemicals and can damage that coating.
The cleaners you should avoid using if you have an iPhone include, but are not limited to:
- Compressed air: This can damage the ports, speakers, and microphone
- Bleach and hydrogen peroxide: These erode the coating on the phone's screen
- Solvents: These are too harsh for the delicate construction of the device
- Aerosol sprays: These can cause liquid damage to your device
If you stay away from these cleaners, you can avoid damaging your phone in the process of trying to clean it.
Don't Try to Clean a Cracked Screen
It's important to note that even hairline fractures in your device screen can allow moisture to seep through and damage the internal circuitry. Remember, liquids adjust to fill the space they're in. They can slip into crevices that you might not be able to see.
Not only that, but you put yourself at risk from using a device with a broken screen.
How to Clean an iPhone: Dos
Now that we've talked about everything that you shouldn't do while trying to clean your iPhone, let's talk about what you should do. The following tips will show you how to clean an iPhone without damaging it.
Do Keep Moisture Out of Ports
On most modern iPhones, that only means taking special care around the speakers and charging port. However, just because you're lucky enough to have a set of AirPods Max and an iPhone 13 doesn't mean everyone is. For any device older than an iPhone 7, you're going to need to work around the headphone jack as well.
Unplug Your Device and Turn It Off Before Cleaning
As we mentioned above, using certain cleaners around a hot phone can lead to a major disaster. Plus, you could damage the power bank or wall plug that the phone's connected to. So, before you get started cleaning your iPhone, unplug the device from everything and power it off.
Use Specialized Cleaners
It's better to use a cleaner that's specialized for electronics or phones than to use a general sanitation wipe. These cleaning solutions get special formulations that won't erode or damage the coating that keeps your iPhone's screen free from smudges. In the absence of a special cleaner, you can always use 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes, but again, make sure they're certified safe for use on electronics.
Clean It Immediately After Exposure
If you spilled spaghetti sauce on your iPhone while you were leaning over it to read your latest recipe, don't leave it until after you're done cooking. Give the phone a thorough cleaning as soon as the event happens. This applies whether you're dealing with food, make-up transfer, motor grease, or simple dust.
(And consider investing in a stand for your phone to keep it out of the splash zone.)
Use a Lint-Free Cloth to Wipe It Down
Any glasses owner will be able to tell you horror stories of the time they wiped their glasses with the wrong fabric and ended up scratching their lenses. Do not use paper towels or something that peels lint like a dog sheds fur. Not only do you run the risk of scratching your screen, but you'll leave little lint fragments everywhere on it.
Instead, use a lint-free cloth when you want to wipe your phone down.
Use Scotch Tape to Remove Lint or Dust
If your phone has had a bad encounter with a rabid pack of dust bunnies, there's no need for despair. You can use a piece of basic Scotch tape to lift all the excess fur away. Don't use anything stronger than that, as you could leave adhesive behind on the screen. Regular office tape will do the trick.
Clean Out the Speakers and Charge Ports
Does it seem harder to hear people out of your phone's speakers? Is your phone charging slowly? The issue may not be the device or your hearing. It may be that the ports are clogged with dead skin cells and other nasty gunk.
Take some time to clean out the speakers and charge ports using a Q-tip or tiny bristled brush. Rub into and along the ports in gentle motions to coax all the caked-in grossness out of hiding, then wipe away what you pull out.
Clean Your Lightning Cables
Another reason why your phone might feel slow to charge is that the Lightning cable itself has gotten dirty. Think of it this way: If there's anything clogging your charge port, that substance has likely transferred onto your charging cable as well.
So, unplug both sides of your cables. Then, using a damp microfiber cloth, wipe those connectors until they gleam like gold. Allow them to air dry completely before plugging them back in. This should help resolve charging issues.
Take It to the Experts
Should all your DIY cleaning attempts end in failure, don't hesitate to reach out to the experts to handle it for you. It's better to let someone trained in iPhone cleaning and repair get your device in like-new condition than to try and do it all yourself. There's less risk of damaging the device and voiding your warranty that way.
Step By Step iPhone Sanitation Methods
With all the basic iPhone cleaning tips, dos, and don'ts out of the way, let's break down each of the main methods people use to clean their iPhones into easy, actionable steps. We'll cover everything from the most modern solution of UV sanitation to Apple's recommended sanitation method.
How to Sanitize Your Phone Using a UV Cleaner
Image credit: Buyguide.ae
A UV cleaner is by far the easiest way to sanitize your phone. It may not remove visible dirt and smudges, but it will absolutely kill any nasty germs living on the surface of your phone and its case.
All you need to do to clean your iPhone with a UV sanitizer is to place it inside the chamber. Then, close the UV sanitizer's container or chamber, making sure all fastenings are secure. Plug it in or press the power button, depending on the model you're working with. Then, when the indicator goes off, you're done!
The UV rays within the sanitizer should have successfully killed off bacteria and viruses living rent-free on your phone's surface.
How to Clean Your Phone Using Microfiber Cloths
Damp microfiber cloths are Apple's preferred method for cleaning iPhones. So, let's talk about how you can use their recommended method at home.
First, remove the phone from its case and make sure it's unplugged and powered down. Then, wet the microfiber cloth you're going to use with a water and alcohol mix or your preferred electronic-safe cleaning solution. Place the damp cloth against the phone's body and gently rub it in circular motions as you clean.
This ensures that you're not putting too much pressure on the device and stripping elements of the screen or casing off of it. Once you've cleaned the phone itself, use the microfiber cloth to clean the inside and outside of your case. If there are any hard-to-reach places, use a Q-tip to clear them out.
Once that's done, give your phone some time to air dry. Then, reapply your case, and you're good to go.
How to Clean Your Phone With Cleaning Wipes
While Apple does not recommend using cleaning wipes like Clorox or similar, you can still clean your phone with them. The steps for this are much the same as cleaning with a microfiber cloth, but you must take extra care around the ports of the device, as these wipes tend to be much wetter than a slightly-damp microfiber cloth.
Unplug, power down, and remove your phone from its case. Then, while taking care to avoid any ports on your iPhone, take the certified cleaning wipe and start wiping it down in gentle, circular motions. Once this is done, allow ample time for the device to air dry before you power it back on.
While you wait for the phone to dry off, you can use the cleaning wipe on the case, once again diving deep into the crevices to get all the gunk out. After the case finishes drying, you can put the phone back in it. Then, you're done!
Now That Your iPhone Is Clean, Accessorize Your Phone
Figuring out how to clean an iPhone without causing irreparable damage to it can get tricky. However, as long as you follow Apple's own directions or the instructions of any sanitizer you purchase, you should be able to clean your phone without breaking it.
Keeping your iPhone clean is only one part of the story. You need fun and fashionable accessories to brighten it up. No worries. Here are some cases, ring holders, and much more.