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How to safely clean your Android smartphones and tablets

Did you know smartphones are dirtier than toilets? You gotta make sure you keep your gadgets as clean as possible, but you also have to do it the right way. Let's show you how to safely clean your tech!

Published onSeptember 21, 2015

Is it any news that our smartphones are as dirty as anything can get? We man-handle these gadgets all day, smear grease all over them, take them to the toilet and put them through unimaginable germ exposure. In fact, a recent Mashable video (as well as studies) tells us our phones contain about 25,000 germs per square inch. That would be much dirtier than doorknobs, checkout screens and even toilets. Yes, you heard that right… most smartphones are dirtier than toilets!

Needless to say, you want to make sure you clean your device from time to time, but you have to do it the right way too. Remember these expensive tech gadgets could easily get damaged. And very few of us are lucky enough to have those waterproof devices you can probably just wash in the sink. Let’s give you some tips on how to clean your technology both properly and safely, shall we?


Do not use chemicals!

Wile the image above is urging us to pull out the bleach, glass cleaner or anything that can kill every single thing on that phone, this is something we must really resist. Yeah, we want to keep our devices as clean as possible, but keep in mind most phones don’t do well when put against strong chemicals. These can stain the materials and remove the protective coating manufacturers put on devices.

In other words, don’t do what the lady in the featured image of this article is doing! If you really must clean your device with some form of liquid, try to only use distilled water, and use very, very little. And turn your phone off when you do – this will increase the chances of the phone not getting water damage if your hand slips and you get the phone overly wet. We will go into further detail later on in the post, though.


Use a microfiber cloth for the overall body

We have a tendency to simply grab any paper towel and clean our smartphones superficially. While this generally works, it’s not the best way to wipe a smartphone down and really get rid of all the dirties. This is because most paper napkins and towels release lint, fibers and other particles. These can then make their way in between buttons, gaps and other parts that will later be hard to clean. Not to mention, paper and regular fabric can be harsh and scratch your devices!

You can buy microfiber anywhere, really. They are usually in pharmacies and eyeglass stores, but you can also score some neat deals on Amazon. For example, here’s a 6-pack of microfiber cloths for only $9.95. There’s also some cool mini stickers from Clean Screen Wizard I really happen to like. These little accessories also have a microfiber surface on one side, which works like a charm. The other side contains a sticker, which can be used to keep the sticker in place, save it somewhere in the phone or even use it for removing particles that may be stuck to your device.

Once you have a microfiber cloth, simply wipe the screen and the rest of the phone in straight lines until all the noticeable residue comes off. If you are having trouble removing a tough stain or smudge, spray a bit of distilled water into the cloth and wipe again. Then use a dry area of the microfiber towel to dry it as much as you can.

Dig into those hard-to-reach spots with cotton swabs

Cleaning the overall surface of your smartphone is easy, but those pesky germs and annoying particles always go and get between buttons and tiny gaps. You can use a cotton swab for this. The concept is the same as with the wipes; don’t get the swabs wet unless you feel it’s absolutely necessary. If you do need some liquid, try to keep it to a minimum. Don’t just soak the cotton swab and go at it.

Blow it all away with a compressed air can

Better yet, you can just use a compressed air can. These are among the most useful cleaning tools for the office. They can blast away dirt from keyboards, computer towers, laptops, mice and any other tech gadget, including smartphones and tablets. If there’s a really tough piece of dirt you just can’t get out, chances are a compressed air can will do the trick. The Read Right OfficeDuster has worked great for me.

Using alcohol is OK sometimes

Those who really want to kill all the germs will feel the need to use some kind of disinfectant. We urge you not to do this, but if you really must, your best bet is probably to use watered down alcohol… just don’t do it all the time. And don’t forget still keep the liquids light.

In a way, the alcohol helps because it dries away quicker than water. This means the solution won’t stick around for as long, reducing the possibilities of it making it to the innards of the device. I have personally done this, and though it may still affect those coating layers, I have noticed no real damage on any of my units.

In fact, I like using alcohol wipes for those times when I really want to deep clean my gadgets. These are dirt cheap and also happen to leave no lint or particles (at least it hasn’t for me). A pack of 100 wipes from ZEISS is only $10.60 from Amazon. These are made for lenses, computers, glasses and devices, so you should be relatively safe. I would just make sure not to use them when they are too damp. Let the towel dry out for a bit and then get going.

Scotch tape can be your friend

We told you about those Clean Screen Wizard stickers above and mentioned you could also use the sticky side to peel any dirt away. You will be glad to know good old scotch tape works the same way. It can even catch some pieces of dirt in between keys and get rid of fingerprints. It just so happens that it won’t do too much to solve the germ situation.


Got your phone all cleaned up? Now make sure you keep it pristine by taking advantage of these tips as often as you can. Your devices will look great and be free of disgusting germs. Enjoy your sparkling gadgets!