Cleaning your smartphone or tablet screen is easy—but you need to make sure you’re doing it the right way. This means employing the right type of cleaner, as well as a material suited to cleaning.
After all, if you don’t know what to avoid, you might end up damaging the touchscreen. This can potentially render the device useless. Below we cover how safely and correctly clean your mobile phone or tablet touchscreen.
How Not to Clean a Cell Phone or Tablet Touchscreen
Before we go over a quick and easy method to safely clean your device’s touchscreen, let’s cover some mistakes you should never make when cleaning a smartphone touchscreen:
- Never use harsh chemicals, including Windex, anything with ammonia, or alcohol-based cleaners. If a liquid is necessary, you should only use a small amount of water on the cloth. While you can purchase special cleaning solutions (such as iKlenz, recommended by Apple) these are not necessary.
- Never use abrasive cloths, paper towels, or tissue paper, which can scratch the touchscreen. The scratches may be small, but they will build up over time, damaging and dulling the screen. Instead, use microfiber cloths, which are specially designed to clean sensitive surfaces.
- Never use a large amount of water. If water is necessary to clean the screen, you should dampen your microfiber cloth instead. It’s a good idea to power off your device ahead of time if any water is necessary.
- Never press too hard while cleaning the screen. Excessive pressure can damage your device.
The steps outlined below are intended for cleaning glass screens. If your screen is covered in a plastic screen protector, you can use other types of cleaning solutions. Check the screen protector’s packaging or refer to the manufacturer’s website for details.
Want a Clean Tablet or Phone Screen? Use a Microfiber Cloth
To clean a touchscreen, all you really need is a microfiber cloth. For dirtier screens, you may also need a small amount of plain water (soap is not necessary).
The term “microfiber cloth” may sound a bit fancy, but they’re extremely common and cheap. If you have a pair of eyeglasses, they probably came with a microfiber cloth for cleaning the lenses.
Cloths like the MagicFiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloths safely clean sensitive glass surfaces without scratching, whether it’s a pair of glasses or a glass touchscreen. You may also have received a microfiber cloth with another device.
Why are microfiber cloths suited for this task? They contain very small fibers which won’t scratch your touchscreen. The microfibers also attract dust and oils, pulling them off your device’s screen instead of rubbing them around the display. A few quick wipes with a microfiber cloth and your phone’s touchscreen should be clean.
Don’t have one? In a pinch, you can use a cotton cloth or the corner of a cotton t-shirt. However, the best results will always come from a microfiber cloth.
How to Clean a Mobile Touchscreen
Now that you have the appropriate cloth to clean your screen, the process is simple:
- Turn off the device. This step is optional, but if plan to use any water, it’s a good idea. At the very least, turning off the device’s screen allows you to see the dirt more easily.
- Wipe horizontally or vertically across the touchscreen in one repeating direction with the microfiber cloth. This motion sweeps grime away and is the safest way to clean the screen.
- For example, start at the left side of the screen and wipe straight across to the right side of the screen. Afterwards, move the cloth a bit lower and repeat this process to clean the entire screen.
- If necessary, use a small amount of water to make a corner of the cloth slightly damp. Make sure you apply the water to the cloth, not the device. Use the damp part of the cloth to clean the screen in the same way. (Rubbing in a small circle may be necessary if the grime refuses to come off.)
- For particularly troublesome grease, you may consider a screen cleaning fluid, which you can buy from a store like Walmart or Amazon. You can also make your own using ten parts distilled water and one part white vinegar. Decant your mix into a suitable spray bottle—remember to spray the cloth, not the phone or tablet.
- Wipe the screen with the dry part of the microfiber cloth. Leave any remaining moisture on on the screen to air-dry; don’t try too hard to dry it with the cloth.
While it might sound confusing, this is the most complicated way to explain the process. In most cases, simply turning the device’s screen off and giving it a few wipes across with a microfiber cloth will be enough to remove any dust and oil in just a few seconds.
To clean the microfiber cloth itself and prevent build-up of dirt, soak the cloth in warm soapy water, rinse well, and let it dry. Don’t use any harsh chemicals to clean the cloth, as they can damage it.
How to Clean Your iPad or Tablet Screen
Looking for a way to clean your iPad screen? Since the construction of most tablets resembles large phones, you can follow most of the steps to clean your tablet.
Nevertheless, the cleaning challenges facing tablet owners can differ considerably. For example, any iPad or other tablet stored in a silicon case is likely to have significant dust and dirt gathered under its edges.
As such, it is wise to remove your tablet from the case before cleaning. With a child’s tablet, the accumulated crud may require several attempts before it’s back to spotless.
Can You Clean a Touchscreen With Windex?
As noted above, you should not put standard Windex on a smartphone touchscreen. It’s unsuitable for use with phones and tablets.
This doesn’t mean that you have no options around Windex, however. The Windex range includes a vinegar glass cleaner and an ammonia-free option. Nonetheless, we recommend avoiding these as well, since they’re made for use on standard glass.
Instead, if you really want to use Windex products, try the Windex Electronics Wipes. These are intended for use on TVs, smartphones, tablets, ereaders, and more. You can use these as you would a microfiber cloth to remove fingerprints, dust, and smudges.
While you can buy cleaning kits and expensive cleaning solutions like iKlenz and Monster CleanTouch, these aren’t necessary. A simple microfiber cloth and some water will work just as well in most situations.
Keep Your Touchscreen Clean
Once you’ve cleaned your phone or iPad touchscreen, it’s a good idea to keep it as clean as possible. Follow these tips to keep your device looking pristine:
- Wash your hands regularly. Less oil on your hands means fewer smudges on your touchscreen.
- Keep your device in a case. This will help keep it clean and a case with a soft interior can absorb some of the grease.
- Don’t let children use your phone. Doing so almost guarantees that you’ll have to spend time cleaning your tech.