How to Clean Your Smartphone

At some time or another, we all drop our smartphones. We also put them in pockets or purses crammed with keys, forget to charge them, and leave them in hot or wet locations. Some of us have even taken them swimming. A dirty phone screen won't give you much pleasure--or much information. Screens are delicate, however. Clean them the wrong way, and you ruin them for good.

The main tool you need is a microfiber cloth. You can get a very small one, perhaps even for free, at your optometrist's office, which should be just fine for a phone. You can buy larger ones for a few dollars at camera stores, electronics stores, hardware stores, or online.

Here's how to get your smartphone screen nice and clean:

  1. As a safety measure, remove your phone's battery. If the battery cannot be removed, turning off the device will suffice.
  2. Wipe the screen gently with the dry cloth. Don't press hard on it, but for particularly stubborn dirt you can apply some gentle pressure.
  3. If a dry cloth doesn't do the job, you'll need to use a wet one--and that can be tricky. Distilled water is the safest and cheapest liquid for a screen. If that isn't strong enough, mix it half-and-half with white vinegar.
  4. Put the liquid into a spray bottle, and spray it onto the microfiber cloth.
  5. Wipe the display as described above, and then wait until the screen is completely dry before turning the device back on.

Here are a few tips to protect your phone from wear and tear while also prolonging its life:

  1. Be careful where you carry your phone. That pocket full of keys was fine for your old, clamshell-style "dumb" phone. But your smartphone almost certainly has a screen--quite likely a touchscreen--open for all the world to scratch. So put your handset where nothing can scratch it.
  2. Buy a case for your phone--preferably one built for your specific model--and keep it in that. Most cases leave the screen uncovered so that you can use it, so buy some screen protectors as well. These thin, transparent membranes fit over the screen, stay in place, and let both light and touch go through them. They're also reasonably cheap and disposable: You can buy a pack of three for as little as $6.
  3. Turn off the touchscreen before pocketing the phone. Not only does this stretch your battery life, but it also avoids butt-dialing.
  4. If your phone feels hot to the touch, turn it off and (if the phone allows it) remove the battery. Let the handset sit awhile where it can breathe. If the phone or the battery is still too hot an hour later, contact the vendor; something of a chemical nature may have gone wrong inside.
  5. Get in the habit of charging your phone every night when you go to bed. That way, you'll seldom (if ever) run out of juice in the course of a day. If you still have trouble charging, buy an extra charger or two; one that plugs into your car's cigarette lighter may be useful.

Don't worry too much about wearing out the battery. It will wear out eventually, no matter what you do, but probably not before your contract is up and you're ready to upgrade to the next new thing.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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