How to safely clean your Android device

androidpit big samsung phone
© Samsung

Here at AndroidPIT, we've written a lot about cleaning up the insides of your smartphone (files, cache, memory and so on) but what about the outside? Your precious mobile phone can really benefit from regular cleaning, even if you've already invested in a case to keep your handset in pristine condition.

Water and cleaning solutions don't mix too well with electronic circuitry, however, so it can be difficult to know how to keep your handset looking its best without damaging it. We've gathered some tips on device maintenance to help you clean your phone or tablet safely.

1. Cleaning the screen

The screen is the part of your device where you're most likely to notice dirt and smears, so it's important you know how to clean it effectively. Your first port of call should be a microfiber cloth, which you can run across the display — if you're lucky your phone might have come with one.

androidpit microfiber cloth
Microfiber cloths can be used to clean the screen. / © Flickr

Ordinary water is more effective than you might think, but use it sparingly and distill it first to remove any lurking chemicals (avoid using any type of chemicals on your screen, they will interfere with the coating). Wipe the display in steady, straight lines using the microfiber cloth and a little water if you feel its needed.

Take your time and work in small sections at a time. When you've finished, use a dry part of the cloth to remove any lingering water from the screen. If you do use water, turn the device off first. 

androidpit samsung phone screen
The screen is the most important part of your phone. / © Samsung

Some people use Scotch tape to get the grime and fingerprints off their smartphone display, but we've found the microfiber cloth method to be more effective. Stock up on plenty of cloths and replace them regularly to keep getting an effective clean.

2. Cleaning the body

You can use a cotton tip dipped in watered-down alcoholic solution to clean the body of your device, removing dust and other dry bits of dirt that have become attached to it. Keep the moisture to a minimum though. A can of compressed air also works well here. Avoid using household cleaners and disinfectants, as they'll stain or otherwise damage your device.

The end of a paperclip or a toothpick can be used to clear cruft from speaker holes, although this can be time-consuming.

androidpit cotton swabs
Use cotton swabs for the casing. / © Wikimedia Commons

A 50-50 mixture of water and white vinegar can work as well as rubbing alcohol if you want to give the casing of your phone a thorough clean. If you're dealing with a metal backing or trim, stick to plain water (check with the manufacturer if you're not sure what to use).

androidpit samsung back case
Different methods require different techniques. / © Samsung

The best method for cleaning the phone case depends on the materials used. You can be relatively aggressive with a plastic back, especially if you have a waterproof phone. Leather backs (such as those on the new LG G4) will need a dedicated leather cleaner.

3. Maintenance tips

Besides the actual process of cleaning, there are some day-to-day maintenance tips that will keep your smartphone or tablet running healthily. It's a lot like making sure your car is regularly serviced to keep it in a roadworthy condition.

androidpit samsung charging
Keep your phone at the right temperature, especially while charging. / © Samsung

Temperature is important: Take note of the minimum and maximum temperatures listed in your phone's documentation and make sure it's not left anywhere where these could be exceeded (on a cold window ledge or inside a hot car, for example). You could risk permanent damage to the handset.

Cases and screen protectors are obvious ways of keeping your smartphone from coming to any harm but make sure you check ratings, reviews and compatibility before you make a purchase. When charging your phone, it's a good idea to take your phone out of its case, to prevent temperatures from rising too high.

androidpit galaxy s6 cover up cases 2
Invest in a third-party case. / © ANDROIDPIT

You should also take particular care when holding your phone above a large drop or a body of water, and wash your hands before handling it if you've just been preparing food, digging in the garden or anything else that could get dirt or germs on your phone.

Microfiber cloth and cotton swab pictures courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Flickr.

David Nield

David Nield

David is a freelance technology journalist who has been writing about Android apps and gadgets since the earliest days of the platform. He spends most of his time experimenting with phones, tablets and most other types of tech, particularly if it's Google-related.

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  • chayusiro Jul 28, 2016 Link to comment

    If you want to safely clean your Android device on PC, you may need pro android data cleaner software like this one:

  • Randeep Jul 29, 2015 Link to comment

    Make a review on how to clean camera lenses please?

  • GT Ohh Jul 28, 2015 Link to comment

    I use fragrance free babywipes. They're alcohol free & remove all oily fingerprints. Then wipe dry with old tee shirts...

  • Steve Patten Jul 28, 2015 Link to comment

    Here in England we have a store called Poundland where everything is sold for one pound. They have a cleaning solution called Signalex which I use on my smartphones all the time and it cleans the screen beautifully with one quick short spray it removes my many fingerprints with one wipe. I have used it on many different phones and tablets and none have them suffered any problems with it. Of course I never drown the screen with the solution.

  • Junaid Q. Jul 28, 2015 Link to comment

    Thanks for sharing

  • Dark Sky Digital Watch Face Jul 28, 2015 Link to comment

    Yes, thank for sharing this tips on how to clean your smartphone and make it good as new!

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