Phones are germ hotspots

Phones are germ hotspots
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Get this: Your smartphone is dirtier than a toilet seat. Sure, many of the germs found on your phone could be harmless. But in a study published in 2023, researchers found that a whopping 92 per cent of phone carried illness-causing bacteria like strep and E. coli. If you’re anything like us, that fact alone makes a good case for learning how to clean your phone screen – and making it a regular part of your cleaning schedule.

If you want to be extra thorough at removing germs and bacteria from your smartphone, you’re in the right place. We asked microbiologist Dr Charles Gerba, and cleaning expert Jessica Ek to share the scoop on how to properly disinfect your iPhone or Android, which products you should use, how often you should clean your device and more.

So grab your phone and crank up the cleaning tunes because you’re about to perfect the art of removing germs and bacteria from your trusty device.


How to clean a phone screen at home

How to clean a phone screen at home
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As a microbiologist, Gerba knows just how germy phones can be (read: very, very germy), so he recommends at least daily cleanings. Some experts even recommend cleaning it every time you return home. Luckily, the process is quick, and you can use a simple item you probably already have at home. Read on to find out how to clean your phone screen of bacteria and other germs.

Supplies you’ll need

Microfibre cloth


Power down your smartphone.

Remove your phone’s case. Germs can get caught in the corners of the case, so it’s important to take it off when cleaning, says Ek.

If you have a screen protector that is pulling up on the sides or at the corners, remove it and throw it away. Bacteria can build up there too, according to Ek.

Gently wipe your screen with a microfibre cloth.

Don’t forget to clean the camera’s lenses and edges with a microfibre cloth. A sign yours needs cleaning? Your pictures will start to come out blurry.

How to disinfect a phone

How to disinfect a phone
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The average smartphone screen carries more than 10,000 types of bacteria, so you may want to go beyond daily wipe-downs. The good news: You don’t need a fancy phone sanitiser to get the job done. When your phone needs more than a quick cleaning, it’s time to pull out the disinfectant.

Supplies you’ll need

Cotton swab

Disinfectant wipes

Microfibre cloth


Make sure your phone is turned off and the case is removed.

If you have a screen protector that is curling up on the sides or at the corners, remove it and throw it away.

With a cotton swab, scrub the grooves in your phone where grime might build up, such as the speaker grills, charging port, lock button and earpiece.

Gently wipe down your entire phone using a disinfectant wipe. (Keep scrolling for options that are safe to use on smartphones.)

If there are any streaks left on your phone, use a microfibre cloth to buff and polish.

Clean your phone case by running it under warm water or wiping it down with a disinfecting wipe. Leave the case and your phone in a clean area with plenty of airflow to dry.

When your phone is dry, place a new screen protector over the screen. Then put the case back on your phone.


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Can you use disinfectant on your phone?

In Apple’s guidelines for cleaning iPhones, disinfectants like wipes are considered safe to use. If you have an Android smartphone, wipes, are recommended for sanitising many electronics, including smartphones and glass-display computer screens.

Wondering how to clean your phone screen without doing major damage? Make sure to wring out any excess liquid and gently wipe down the exterior surfaces if cleaning your phone with wipes. Avoid getting liquid in any openings – it could seep into your device and damage it.

Can you use alcohol wipes on your phone?

Alcohol wipes are approved by Apple’s experts for cleaning iPhones. For the best germ-busting results, the company recommends using alcohol pads with 70 per cent isopropyl or 75 per cent ethyl alcohol. Disinfectant alcohol wipes should be used only on outside surfaces to avoid damaging your phone. If you’re looking for something slightly milder, alcohol-based lens wipes are also a good option.

Can you use hand sanitiser on your phone?

Hand sanitiser contains fragrances and rubbing alcohol that could harm your smartphone, so it’s best to avoid using it as a phone disinfectant.

Another thing you’re doing that iPhone experts wouldn’t: using heavy-duty household cleaners, including window cleaners like Windex, hydrogen peroxide or bleach, to clean your device. That’s a big no-no. These products have harsh chemicals that could damage your phone’s screen coating, says Ek. When in doubt, she recommends checking the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper care guidelines.

Can you use wet wipes on your phone?

You should be able to use any antibacterial wipe to clean your phone, whether it’s an Apple or Android device, according to Ek. Just one caveat: Make sure the phone is turned off before you wipe it down, and wait for it to fully dry before turning it on again.

Can you use Windex on your phone?

Experts unanimously advise against using Windex on your phone. Windex contains ammonia, a harsh chemical that can cause damage to your phone’s touch-screen coating and LCD display over time.

How often should you clean your phone?

Gerba recommends wiping down your iPhone or Android device with a microfibre cloth every day. If wiping down your phone daily sounds unrealistic, remember just how germy phones can be.

“We have found that the germiest phones are those of teenagers and cooks in restaurants,” Gerba says. But even if you don’t fall into one of those two categories, you’re not in the clear. “Phones are germ mobile devices,” he says. “You are putting germs on the phones and taking them off all day.”

At the very least, you should give your phone a good cleaning twice a week, according to Ek.

How to keep your phone clean

Learning how to clean a phone screen is a good start, but you’ll also want to take steps to keep your phone clean and bacteria free during the day. Our experts offered up some genius tips that anyone can follow.

Designate a special pocket in your handbag or backpack for your phone, which will keep it separated from other items that might not be fully sanitised.

When exercising at a gym, stash your phone in a pocket or armband instead of leaving it on workout equipment that could be carrying sweat, hair, skin and other germs from previous users.

Avoid using your smartphone on public transit or in the bathroom, where harmful bacteria could find its way onto your phone’s surface.

Rather than cooking with a recipe from your phone, print out the recipe on a piece of paper. Illness-causing bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella from raw poultry, beef, pork and fish can contaminate your device if you leave it in the kitchen while you cook.

Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before reaching for your phone, especially if you have been out in public.

Next, here are 10 tips for cleaning your car’s interior (and why it’s important you do!).

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