How to clean your smartphone or tablet

Do you wash your hands before you handle your smartphone or tablet, each and every time? Chances are, your device could use a good cleaning. We'll show you how to safely clean your smartphone or tablet.

Ed Rhee
Ed Rhee, a freelance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is an IT veteran turned stay-at-home-dad of two girls. He focuses on Android devices and applications while maintaining a review blog at techdadreview.com.
Ed Rhee
2 min read

Samsung Galaxy S II

Do you wash your hands before you handle your iPhone, each and every time? Chances are, whatever mobile device you carry around in your pocket could use a good cleaning. Here's how to safely clean your smartphone or tablet:

How do I safely clean the screen on my smartphone or tablet?
To clean the screen on your smartphone or tablet, use a soft, lint-free cloth. We suggest you pick up a couple of microfiber cloths. Never use a paper towel or other paper-based towels as they can leave scratches on the screen. For fingerprint smudges, dust, and lint, wipe the screen gently using a dry microfiber cloth.

What if I got ink, food, or makeup on the screen?
For more stubborn contaminants or stains, turn your device off and remove the battery if possible. Lightly dampen a section of a microfiber cloth with water and gently wipe the screen, then go over it again with a dry section of the cloth to wipe away any moisture. Avoid getting moisture in any openings like the speaker or mic. If the stain remains, you can also try using a mild soap-and-water solution. When your device is completely dry, put the battery back in and turn it on.

Can I use Windex or other household cleaners to clean my device?
Never use window cleaners, harsh chemicals or cleaning solvents on your smartphone or tablet and never spray anything directly onto the screen. Some screens, like those on the iPad and iPhone, have a special coating that can get wiped away if you use chemicals to clean the screen.

Of course, you'll now find plenty of specialty cleaning sprays available for this very purpose. But they tend to be way overpriced for what they are (alcohol and water). CNET's Sharon Vaknin shows you how to make your own screen-cleaning spray in this quick and easy How To post.

What if my device gets wet? Can I use a hair dryer or uncooked rice to dry it?
If your smartphone or tablet happens to get wet, turn it off immediately and remove the battery if possible. Let it dry for as long as you can before turning it back on and never use a hair dryer, oven or microwave to try and accelerate the drying. Some people have claimed that leaving a wet device in a bowl of uncooked rice helps get the moisture out of the device, but your mileage may vary. There are also a couple of companies that make kits that claim to dry out wet devices. One such kit is called the "Dry-All First Aid Kit" and is available from Amazon.com. For more on rescuing wet cell phones, check out Sharon Vaknin's How To video.

If you've used one of those drying kits or tried the uncooked rice method to dry out a wet device, let us know how it worked out for you in the comments.