Give your phone screen a spring cleaning: How to make a touchsreen shiny again

how to clean smartphone tablet screen cleaning
ipopba/123RF
ipopba/123RF

Smartphone screens attract bits of dirt, dust, and other particles, leaving your screen a grimy mess on a daily basis. Although wiping down your device with the edge of your shirt — or smudging the screen with your fingers — certainly helps tidy up the display on your smartphone or tablet, there are far better methods for thoroughly cleaning your device.

To help you take proper care of your precious device’s screen, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide outlining the best ways to clean a touchscreen display.

Microfiber cloth

The easiest way to clean your device’s screen is with a microfiber cloth. Unlike paper-based towels, microfiber cloths gently clean the sensitive glass on your smartphone or tablet without running the risk of scratching it. Microfiber attracts and removes unwanted oils and dust, where other products can simply spread them around.

Clean phone
Intel/Flickr

We recommend stocking up on plenty of these, as they work wonders for cleaning and buffing literally any surface — lenses, computer screens, TVs, etc. Some things, like eyeglasses, come with a microfiber cloth, so you likely have one in your possession.

To clean your display, turn off the screen as this allows you to see the dirt and grime better. It’s also mandatory if using water (see below). Move the cloth in a horizontal or vertical direction repeatedly. Once you finish an area of the screen, move on to the next dirty area, and continue to wipe until the surface is completely clean.

For dirtier jobs, or those that require more than a microfiber cloth and a little elbow grease, consider using a minimal amount of water. First, turn off your smartphone and remove the battery (if possible). Next, wet one corner of the cloth with water — do not use soap of any kind while doing this — and clean the surface of the screen in a similar fashion to the method outlined above. Once done, use a dry part of the cloth to remove some of the water (you can also let the screen air dry).

Additionally, we recommend keeping the microfiber cloth clean so that you avoid rubbing the dust and grime you’ve already picked up back on the display. To clean the cloth, simply soak it in a mixture of warm water and soap, rinse the cloth completely, then air dry it fully before using again.

Scotch Tape

When a microfiber cloth is out of the question — and you need to clean your screen quickly — a strip of Scotch Tape (or another type of adhesive tape) can work wonders. Just stick the tape to the surface of the screen and peel it off to remove any unwanted dirt and grime. Then, repeat the previous step as often as necessary to clean the entire screen.

Cleaning kits

tech armor cleaning kit

If microfiber cloths and tape alone aren’t cutting it, then you can look at some more heavy-duty option. All-in-one cleaning kits come with everything you need to keep your phone reasonably clean, and even give you some tools that can help you keep it clean on the go too. This kit from Tech Armor does just that, including our old friend the microfiber cloth, two cleaning solution sprays in different sizes (one for home, one for away), and a set of 20 double-strength cleaning wipes too.

Tech Armor claim the cleaning solution is completely free of alcohol and ammonia, so it shouldn’t damage your screen during use, and the soft microfiber cloths are as good as ever at picking up any bits of dirt left over from the cleaning cloths, or wiping up the cleaning solution.

Liquid screen protector and cleaner

how to clean lcd screen

Over the years, we have seen some liquid solutions that are designed to clean and protect screens. Shark Proof is one such example, one that you can apply to your screen in a few easy steps. You can think of it as liquid glass for your smartphone or tablet. The good thing about this nano-coating solution is that, once applied, it hardens and can repel both liquids and fingerprints. Shark Proof is scratch-resistant and anti-microbial, too, and the company guarantees this coating will protect your device from scratches and germs for up to two years. It’s also safe to use on fingerprint scanners, as well as the iris scanner on the Galaxy S8.

UV light

Obviously, if you’re looking to sanitize your phone, water will only get you so far. Since alcohol-based cleaners may damage your phone, they’re out of the question, but UV lamps can get the job done when necessary. PhoneSoap’s UV charger, for instance, can clean your phone in a jiffy using UV light.

The PhoneSoap Charger has two UV-C lamps that produce a specific wavelength of light, which penetrates the cell walls of bacteria and viruses, allowing you to destroy them. Since it’s a charger, you can clean your phone while you wait. It’s unclear how well the charger works, but it remains a decent option for true germaphobes.

Amazon

A protective case

Of course, there’s always the brute force preventative option. By keeping your phone’s body or screen from touching dirt, grime, or fingers, you can stop it from being marred. It’s not really cleaning, but if you’re tired of constantly cleaning your phone or tablet, then maybe consider something that keeps it from needing cleaning in the first place? Cases have all sorts of additional benefits as well; lots of them have an additional rim around the edges of the camera lenses and display, keeping those areas from dirty surfaces. They also have the advantage of often offering additional grip for your fingers, thanks to the soft or grippy material many case-makers use. And of course, they help protect against bumps, drops, and scratches.

If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve written case guides for a ton of phones, but the best place to start is probably our guide on picking a smartphone case.

Things to avoid

Not every cleaning method is created equal, and unfortunately, there are some methods that you should definitely avoid.

Alcohol-based cleaners

No matter how appealing or appropriate it might seem to use a product like Windex or some other form of cleaning solvent, never resort to using these to clean the screen on your smartphone or tablet. Cleaners such as these have a tendency to damage the protective coating found on most devices, and have the potential to ruin your phone.

However, a simple Google search yields thousands of speciality solvents or cleaners which are capable of properly cleaning your device’s screen. Still, more often than not, these are just glorified versions of alcohol and water. There’s no sense in spending $60 or $70 dollars on a “smartphone screen cleaner,” when using a little water and a microfiber cloth works just as well (if not better).

Of course, if you’re worried about germs and want to sanitize your device, some suggest mixing a touch of alcohol with water to clean your screen. The diluted mixture may still harm your phone, however.

Paper-based wipes

Never wipe or clean your smartphone screen with paper towels, facial tissues, or coarse cloths, as these have a high risk of scratching the surface. These scratches can build up over time and may render your touchscreen non-responsive or useless down the line. Again, a microfiber cloth is the only type of wipe you need to clean a smartphone’s screen the correct way.

Product Review

Samsung's $99 fitness tracker takes on Fitbit. Can it keep pace?

Samsung’s going toe-to-toe against Fitbit’s Inspire HR with its own $99 fitness tracker -- the Galaxy Fit. It also has a heart rate monitor, can automatically detect six workouts, and has a battery that can last for days.
Deals

Looking to upgrade? These are the best iPhone deals for June 2019

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for May 2019.
Mobile

Safeguard your new Apple smartphone with one of our favorite iPhone XS cases

If the iPhone XS is your next device, then you’ll want to shop for some proper protection now. That glass sandwich design is all too easy to scratch or crack, so make sure you snag one of the best iPhone XS cases to keep it looking good.
Deals

Need to reduce dentist visits? Philips’ Sonicare electric toothbrush is $30 off

If you’re looking to improve your oral hygiene and save a few dollars along the way, Amazon is currently offering the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 Plaque Control for only $40.
Deals

Need a new tablet? Here are the best Apple iPad deals for June 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for June 2019.
Deals

The Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphone gets a $100 price cut on Amazon

The Samsung Galaxy S10 sits right in the middle of the phone maker's 2019 lineup. But despite its middle child status, the S10 is a great phone. And we've found a deal on an unlocked version on Amazon that will save you $100 this weekend.
Mobile

5 features I’d like to see in Google’s Pixel 4 smartphone

We’ve had a sneak peek at Google’s forthcoming Pixel 4 smartphone, and it offers few clues about what we’ll get. These are the 5 features I’d like to see Google include to take the Pixel line to the next level.
Mobile

Samsung dismisses rumors of a revitalized Galaxy Fold launching in July

The Samsung Galaxy Fold is real, but for how long? Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.
Mobile

Huawei's folding phone held back for more tests, will be released in September

The Huawei Mate X is an exciting 5G folding smartphone with stunning looks. The Mate X has three screens, a clever hinge system, and a Leica camera. All the details you need to know are right here.
Android

You can pre-order the Galaxy S10 5G from Sprint starting today

Samsung announced a whopping four new Galaxy S10 devices, from the low-cost S10e to the triple-camera S10 and S10 Plus. But it's the Galaxy S10 5G that steals the show, as it's the first 5G-ready smartphone to hit the market.
Mobile

These are the best Moto Z4 cases to boost your new phone’s longevity

The Moto Z4 is the newest way to experience Motorola's flagship range. But just because it's cheap, doesn't mean that it's expendable. Make sure your new and beautiful Moto Z4 survives for a long time with one of the best Moto Z4 cases.
Mobile

Pixel 4 gets spotted in real world, showing not even Google can stop the leaks

Rumors abound about the Google Pixel 4, Google's next Pixel phone following the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a. Getting around the leaks, Google straight-up teased an image of the back of the phone. Here's what you need to know.
Home Theater

Diagnose and fix some common Apple AirPods problems with our handy guide

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.
Deals

Fitbit Versa and Samsung Gear fitness smartwatches get big Amazon price cuts

Some of the best options can get pretty pricey, but with smartwatch discounts on the Fitbit Versa and Samsung Gear Sport, they are really quite affordable right now. You can save up to $125 on a new fitness watch.