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Keeping Your Phone Clean & Germ Free: The Do’s and Don’ts

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Did you know that four out of five smartphones are teeming with germs that can make you sick? Gross but true: A University of London study found that approximately 80 percent of phones tested had harmful bacteria and viruses present—the kind that cause flu, pinkeye, and diarrhea.

While the idea of holding something so unhygienic so close to your face might keep you from answering the phone for the rest of the day, it’s also not surprising. We take our smartphones everywhere with us, from the bedroom to the office to the gym to the restaurant to the bathroom, and bacteria comes along for the ride. Follow our do’s and don’ts to keep your smartphone as germ- and bacteria-free as possible:


  • First and always: Check your phone manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning. Each manufacturer and model has specific requirements. Remember than you may void your warranty if you clean your phone in a way not approved by the manufacturer.
  • Most phones are safe to clean with a microfiber or other lint-free cloth.
  • If it’s allowed for your phone, you can consider using a 40/60 alcohol-to-water mixtureto slightly dampen the soft cloth you use to wipe your phone. Remember you don’t want to get the phone wet at all. Some phone models have special coating that may be damaged by alcohol, so be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions first.
  • Wash hands frequently. Washing your hands regularly with soap keeps your phone cleaner—because guess where most of those phone germs come from? When a sink isn’t handy, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for quick de-germing sessions.

Consider where your phone is allowed to go. Always be aware of where you leave your phone. Keeping it near the kitchen sink or on the dinner table is just asking for trouble, to say nothing of taking it into the bathroom. (Don’t take your phone into the bathroom.)

Still freaked out? Consider the PhoneSoap Charger ($59.95) if you happen to be a serious germaphobe. It cleans and sanitizes your phone with UV light while it charges.


  • Spray or otherwise apply water or liquids directly. Water will seep into your phone’s crevices, which could short it out.
  • Use glass cleaner containing ammonia. You might not notice right away, but the harsh chemicals of ammonia tend to damage a phone’s display over time.
  • Wipe using a paper towel or abrasive cloth. The rough fibers of paper towels and abrasive cloths, even when moistened, can scratch the phone’s display surface. And not only will these scratches make your display difficult to read, they will become trenches where more bacteria can breed.
  • Open up your phone case. Bacteria may be in the guts of your phone, but opening the case will create more problems than it solves. (For instance, you might not be able to get the case back on again.) Plus, it automatically voids the warranty on some models.

Your phone is your lifeline. Take good care of it.