How To Clean and Disinfect Phone Touchscreens

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If you’re of a certain age, you probably remember how we could get TV screens sparkling clean with a spray of glass cleaner and a quick wipe.

Modern screens require different cleaning methods. Standard window cleaner can severely damage your phone, tablet, and TV screens. To clean them safely, follow these steps using homemade screen cleaning spray to get your devices grime-free.

Cleaning Electronic Screens

Woman cleaning and disinfecting phone screen with a cotton pad

Can You Use Windex on Phone Screens?

The ammonia in glass cleaners like Windex can permanently damage the screens on your electronic devices. That’s because many touch-sensitive screens have an oleophobic (oil-resistant) coating to help them resist smudging.

Of course, that coating only helps — it doesn’t entirely prevent buildup, as anyone who’s noticed a grimy haze on their phone’s screen knows. Plus, according to Apple, the coating wears away over time on all of its devices.

You Need a Two-Step Approach

Most of the time, a soft cloth very lightly dampened with water is enough to get rid of smears and fingerprints but you need a two-step approach to disinfect them.

That’s because cleaning and disinfecting are separate processes: cleaning physically removes many but not all germs, and disinfecting kills those left behind.

Tips to Clean Phone, Tablet, and TV Screens

  • Do not use an abrasive cloth or cleaner on your electronic screens. Not only do these risk damaging the oleophobic coating and may also scratch the glass.
  • Don’t apply pressure when cleaning. The connections between touchscreens and the device’s components are ridiculously fragile.
  • Apply the screen cleaner to the cloth, not to your device. Use the dampened cloth to wipe the screen gently and then use a clean part of the material to buff the screen dry.

Steps to Clean and Disinfect Touchscreens

Follow these steps to get your phone, tablet, or other touchscreen clean and disinfected without damage.

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  1. Remove the device’s case and set it aside.
  2. Use a soft paintbrush or infant toothbrush to remove dust and other debris in the crevices around your phone or tablet’s screen.
  3. Repeat the step above to clean dirt in the speaker holes and cord connection area. You can also use the dust brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner. (Using compressed air isn’t recommended, since you may drive the dirt further into the device holes.)
  4. For stubborn dirt in the crevices, lightly apply a piece of Scotch tape then carefully pull it up to lift the debris.
  5. Clean all surfaces of the phone using the homemade phone cleaning spray below.
  6. While the device dries, repeat the above steps to clean the case.
  7. Wait until both the device and case are completely dry before you reassemble them.
  8. Repeat at least once a week, or daily during cold and flu season.
How to Clean Electronic Screens

Homemade Phone, Tablet and TV Screen Cleaning Spray

Katie Berry
An easy, frugal spray to clean and disinfect screens on electronic devices without damaging them.
4.5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 1 min
Total Time 1 min
Course homemade cleaner
Servings 8 ounces

Equipment

  • Spray bottle
  • 3 to 4 soft cloths or cotton pads

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol – 70% Do not use 90% since it will evaporate too quickly to permit disinfection

Instructions
 

Make the spray

  • Combine ingredients in the spray bottle.

Cleaning Phone, Tablet and TV Screens

  • Spray a cloth or pad with the screen cleaner and gently wipe the screen to remove smudges, grime, and debris. Wipe dry with a fresh cloth.

Disinfecting Phone, Tablet and TV Screens

  • After cleaning, spray a fresh cloth until it is damp then apply to the screen until it is visibly wet but not dripping. Wait 5 minutes for the alcohol to disinfect the surface. Wipe dry with a fresh cloth.

Notes

Do not use near open flame or in direct sunlight. Store any unused electronic screen cleaning spray in a cool, dark spot away from pets and children. 
Keyword disinfecting, homemade cleaner
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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8 Comments

  1. Katie Berry says:

    Excellent advice, Don.

  2. Im not 100% sure, but many screens have anti-glare fils on the surface, and using products like alcohol may cause these films to be removed, which can basically ruin the screen.

    I think this is worth exploring for accuracy before recommending screen cleaning solutions with alcohol.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Straight alcohol certainly could damage the anti-glare film. That’s why it’s cut with water in this DIY Screen Cleaning Spray recipe. As I pointed out, even Apple uses alcohol-based wipes at the Apple store — and that includes on iMacs and Macbooks which have antiglare films on their screens.

  3. This really worked! Thanks as always for all of your great information.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Melissa,
      I’m glad to have been of help!

  4. Dave Henderson says:

    4 stars
    20 years using 70-99% isopropyl and so far no damage to any screen. I have cleaned at least 3000 devices with no issues. As long as you don’t rub hard, use a soft cloth, ensure there is no liquid seepage. Good to use water as the first wipe, then cleaning solution secondary. Plastic and glass are different and require different effort. Holes in yuur devices (speaker, mic, ports, seams, etc) require some extra caution.

  5. 5 stars
    I tried this because I’ve been unable to find the wipes ( which are expensive) I usually buy to clean my electronic devices. This cleans much better than the wipes, and is a lot cheaper!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      So glad to have helped, Kate!

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