Fact checked and updated with new phone usage data and cleaning tips on 3/1/2023
Americans check their phones every three minutes, or 352 times per day. It’s a compulsion for many of us; we don’t always think about what we’ve touched before interacting with our phones. If it was an ATM machine, a PIN keypad at a store, a pole on a train or bus, or any other public surface, you could be transferring bacteria and viruses to your phone’s screen, where they can live anywhere from hours to more than a week. When you have germs on your phone, they are easily transferred to your face. Most people touch their face more than 20 times per hour, and with 44 percent of those touches making contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth, you could become infected.
While it’s hard to stop touching your face and using your iPhone, keeping your iPhone clean is easy. Here’s how to clean your iPhone the right way (and check out our instructions on how to clean your Android phone here).
How to clean an iPhone
1. Unplug your iPhone
2. Remove your iPhone case
3. Remove any visible dirt and grime
You can wash off – don’t submerge – your iPhone with a diluted solution of dish or hand soap if you have a water-resistant model (iPhone 7 or later) or wipe it down with a dampened soft cloth (iPhone models earlier than iPhone 7).
4. Disinfect with an approved antimicrobial wipe
Apple says that it’s OK to clean your iPhone with 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says should be effective in disinfecting surfaces, and Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, which are on the EPA’s list of “products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogen claims."
5. Clean the remaining crevices with a cotton swab dipped in a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution
Use a cotton swab dipped in a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution to clean around buttons, the edges of your phone’s screen protector, the camera lenses, and any other edge or crevice where dirt can build up. Make sure the swab is damp, not dripping, with the solution.
If you have persistent debris in the phone charging port or speakers, you can gently use a toothpick to dislodge it.
6. Clean your iPhone case
Clean your iPhone case according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In many cases, a good cleaning with soap and water or wiping down with one of the antimicrobial wipes above will both clean and sanitize. Make sure you wait until the case is fully dry before putting it back on your iPhone.
6 things you should never do to clean your iPhone
- Don’t clean your iPhone while it’s plugged in.
- Don’t pour a cleaning solution directly on your iPhone. Spray it onto a cloth.
- Don’t use anything other than a soft microfiber cloth to clean your iPhone.
- Don’t use bleach, window cleaner, kitchen cleaners, and other abrasive cleaners.
- Don’t use undiluted dish soap, hand soap, or vinegar.
- Don’t use compressed air.
[Image credit: Suzanne Kantra/Techlicious]
For the past 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Prior to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Senior Technology Editor for Popular Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.