How to clean your phone in four simple steps to keep it looking shiny and new

Follow our easy guide on how to clean your phone by sanitizing and disinfecting it daily

woman's hands holding clean mobile phone
(Image credit: Alamy)

Our guide to how to clean a phone will help you keep your more hygienic. phones go pretty much everywhere we do. We hold them in our hands, which also touch door handles, prepare food, flush toilets, and so on. It's not nice to think about, but the fact is that the surface of our phone is quite likely to harbor invisible bacteria. Even bacteria that won't necessarily make us sick could cause our skin to break out after we hold our phone against our face and isn't hygienic. Keeping our phones clean and sanitized, particularly if we touch them while eating meals, can give us peace of mind and help prevent illness. 

It can be hard to notice that our phone needs cleaning. After all, its constant use keeps it free from the most obvious smudges and grime. We're less likely to think of it as “dirty” because it doesn't look that way. The real threat is what we can't see—and tackling microscopic, unwanted visitors can keep our phones clean and promote better health. After learning how to clean your phone, you might also want to take a look at our guides on how to clean a sponge, how to clean an iron, and how to descale a kettle

How often should I clean my phone? 

Obviously, if your phone gets noticeably dirty, you'll want to clean it right away. What about an overall clean, though? How often should you be disinfecting your phone to ensure you aren't harboring any dangerous germs? 

The answer depends on how often and in what conditions you use your phone. Interestingly, one of the biggest sources of dangerous germs on a phone is from food. That means if you have your phone with you during meals, more regular cleaning is needed. The most common germs found on phones include some nasty bugs such as pseudomonas aeruginosa. This antibiotic-resistant pathogen is definitely a reason to sanitize your phone. Another common lurker? Clostridium difficile. This is a well-known cause of diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain. We suggest a daily wipe-down of your phone and consider starting and finishing your day with a cleaning routine. If you're getting organized when it comes to cleaning, you might want to check out our step-by-step guides on kitchen cleaning and bathroom cleaning

How to clean your phone

Prepare your phone for cleaning

The most time-consuming part of cleaning your phone is preparing it. This is especially true if you have a tightly fitting rubber cover. Moreover, if you have a rubber cover on your phone, you need to be even more diligent in your cleaning. The flexible material of the phone cover is more likely to harbor hidden germs than the slick, non-porous surface of the phone itself. So unplug the phone, power it down, and remove the cover. Now you're ready to move on to the actual cleaning. 

Choose the right cleaning cloth

blue microfiber cloth on a plain background

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Of course, the goal of cleaning your phone is to make sure that it's germ-free and safe for use. You also want to make sure you don't damage such an expensive piece of equipment. Choose a lint-free cloth—microfiber is a great choice. Microfiber cloths are very handy for wiping away dust from household items and feature heavily in our kitchen cleaning hacks guide.

You can either use equal parts soap and water or an alcohol-based cleaning solution with your cloth. Just make sure that the cleaning solution is at least 70% alcohol to maximize its sanitizing qualities. Avoid aerosol sprays and cleaning solutions containing bleach or abrasives, however, as these can damage the phone.

Wipe down the phone's surface

Now it's time to wipe down the phone. Do not spray or pour any liquid directly onto the phone. Dampen the cloth and use it to wipe down the phone, paying particular attention to any surfaces with buttons or cracks that might harbor hidden germs. 

At the same time, avoid getting liquid into the device’s charging port or other openings. When you finish with the phone, turn your attention to the case. These often contain more nooks and crannies, but they also aren't as vulnerable to liquid as the phone. Soak your cloth again and get to work, paying close attention to corners and flaps. 

Dry and replace the phone cover

Once you've finished disinfecting your phone, give it a few minutes to dry. If you used an alcohol-based cleaner, this shouldn't take long, as the alcohol evaporates quickly. If you used soap and water-based cleaner, you can use a second, dry, lint-free cloth to give it a quick wipe. Rubber phone cases may take longer to dry. 

Once everything is dry, reassemble your phone. You're good to go with a clean, sanitized phone that's ready to tackle the world! 

How to keep your phone clean

hand holding a cake with phone in shot

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Now that your phone is sanitized and clean, you may want to think about ways to keep it that way for as long as possible. Whether you're being particularly germ-conscious all the time or want to be more cautious because of coronavirus or during cold and flu season, the following tips can help keep your phone cleaner. 

  • Do not use your phone during meals. 
  • When out in a public place where you are touching a lot of surfaces (such as in a grocery store or on public transport) avoid touching your phone until you have washed your hands. 
  • Use a hands-free device when making calls so that you do not push your phone up against your face. 
  • Use a card for payment in shops, preferably a contactless one, and not the mobile payment option on your phone.