You’re Cleaning Your iPhone Wrong, Here’s How to Do It the Right Way

How to Clean iPhone the Right Way Credit: Poravute Siriphiroon / Shutterstock
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If you’ve had your iPhone for any length of time, it’s probably pretty dirty unless you’ve cleaned it. But while cleaning your device is highly recommend, there’s definitely a right and a wrong way to do it.

Apple notes certain iPhone cleaning guidelines on its website, but there are still some pro tips that Apple’s support documents don’t detail. With that in mind, here’s how to clean your iPhone properly without damaging it.

Cleaning Your iPhone: Don’ts

While the exact safe methods for cleaning your devices will vary depending on your iPhone model, there are a few tips to keep in mind generally.

  1. Avoid chemicals. Anything that isn’t water has a chance of damaging your iPhone, reducing its water resistance or wearing off the oleophobic coating. Stick with a slightly damp cloth or a dry one.
  2. Don’t use abrasive towels or cloths. You’ll want to aim for something soft and, ideally, made for camera lenses or displays.
  3. Know your iPhone’s water-resistance rating. Not all iPhones are resistant to water. Newer ones are, but even a small amount of liquid can cause major problems for older Apple handsets. In general, it’s smart to avoid submerging any iPhone during cleaning.
  4. In general, avoid pressurized air. While compressed air can come in handy during select situations (which we’ll get to below), it’s best to avoid using it.

Note that there are a few exceptions to the chemical rule: the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. According to Apple, those devices are safe to use with warm, soapy water. But we’d still highly recommended against any chemical harsher than mild soap.

Cleaning Your iPhone: Dos

First thing’s first when cleaning your iPhone. Make sure to unplug it from any power source or remove it from wireless charging systems. Then, before you clean the device, power it down completely.

Then, use a slightly damp cleaning cloth to wipe down the display, rear and chassis. Ideally, aim for a soft and lint-free cloth. As mentioned earlier, a cloth aimed at cleaning camera lenses or computer monitors is a great choice. Try not to get anything in your iPhone’s ports or other openings.

You’ll also want to act faster if your iPhone comes into contact with any sort of lotion, acidic foods, detergents, makeup, dirt or sand. Use that damp cloth to wipe them off as soon as possible.

Another important thing to keep in mind is your device’s charging port. If you’ve never cleaned the lint out of it, you may run into problems with charging or data transferal via cable. Luckily, it’s pretty easy.

Just turn off your iPhone and use a wooden or plastic toothpick to softly clean any lint out of the port. Don’t use anything metal or add too much pressure since you can damage your port’s contacts in the process.

Of course, if you do happen to get sand or dirt in your device’s charging port, a toothpick might not cut it. In these cases, try using a can of compressed air. Do note that Apple advises not to use compressed air. Mostly, that’s because it can damage your device’s speakers or microphones. In a pinch, it could save your charging port from sand. Just be careful with it.

One of the last places to clean are your device’s speakers grilles, which is a bit more complicated. Many users recommend cellotape or an old electric toothbrush.

Try These Products

You don’t really need any sort of third-party product to clean your iPhone. But there are a couple that could make your life easier.

For one, these types of cleaning towelettes are a great choice for when you’re on the go and might not have access to a cleaning cloth and water. Just make sure to get one that’s made for smartphone screens or other electronics.

There’s also the matter of bacteria and germs. Your iPhone is likely one of the dirtiest things that you interact with on a daily basis. While those germs probably won’t get you sick, it’s something to keep in mind if you’re letting someone else use your device (or you’re using theirs).

This becomes a problem because Apple recommends avoiding cleaning products with antibacterial properties. There is a solution. And while it isn’t cheap, it’s likely the best option that we’ve seen if you’re concerned about germs.

It’s called PhoneSoap 3. Despite the name, it doesn’t use any water or cleaning products. Instead, it’s a device that uses UV light to sanitize your iPhone and kill 99.9% of germs. (Some models also come with a charging port.)

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