Ever thought about how filthy your smartphone is before holding up to your face or snapping a picture of that tasty treat to share on Instagram?

You might want to...

Consider this snippet from a test of eight random cellphones conducted by the Wall Street Journal

“...all phones showed abnormally high numbers of coliforms, a bacteria indicating fecal contamination...”

That’s fancy talk for poo!

The study found that there were between about 2,700 and 4,200 units of coliform bacteria on each phone.

To put that into perspective, they note that the limit is less than 1 unit per 100 ml of water for public drinking water.

So we can all agree that those phones were gross right?

Now let’s talk about how to clean your cell phone or tablet, and some simple ways to keep germs off your phone in the first place.


1. Keep The Germs Off

The simplest way to clean your phone clean is to keep the germs off in the first place. Here's some simple way to fend them off and keep your phone a little cleaner.

Wash Your Hands

Wash your hands often. Our phones are an added appendage, and whatever we touch will be transferred to them.

It's kind of like a third hand... that no washes...

And let's be honest here, who hasn't checked Facebook or played a quick game of Candy Crush in the bathroom?

Frequent hand washing helps reduce contact with germs and bacteria and is a good practice for life in general...

That concept extends to your phone.

Use A Removeable Case

Protect your phone or tablet with a quality case that is specifically designed to withstand everyday knocks and drops.

If you can find a water-resistant option, that's even better.

Otterbox and Trident are two of the leading brands to consider.

If you're looking for cheaper options -- or simply just don't want all the bulk of a big case -- be sure that the case doesn't feature a ton or ridges or intricate designs...

While they might help with grip, they're also little grooves just waiting to fill with germs.

Two-piece cases can also provide a bit more protection without adding bulk.

Most popular models use a soft rubber skin that fits over the phone while a firmer, plastic shell snaps into place over the top.

Apply A Screen Protector

Screen protectors add an effective layer of protection to your phone’s display, especially when it comes to preventing scratches.

iShieldz and Bodyguardz are two well known brands but there are many others.

We've personally had great luck with the Supershieldz brand screen protectors from Amazon.

Just be sure to choose a model designed specifically for your phone. If you don't mind paying a little extra, a tempered glass screen protector can also help to avoid scratches and cracks. 

They're a little trickier to install, but well worth the extra few minutes.

Quit Sharing Your Phone

Germs are everywhere... they're even inside you. 

But the biggest threats often come from germs your body isn't used to fending off.

So quit handing your phone around to friends and family members. Need to show them a picture or take a group selfie? Keep the phone in your hands...

This particularly applies to school-age kids. They run off to school, gather up germs all day, and bring them home for everyone else to enjoy. 

That's bad enough without them depositing a fresh batch on your phone while playing games or watching YouTube.


2. Wipe It Regularly With a Microfiber Cloth

For casual, exterior cleaning, a microfiber cloth is all you need.

Most smartphone and tablet displays now have an oleophobic coating -- fancy talk for a treatment which helps repel oil-based smudges, fingerprints, etc.

So there's no real need to scrub away like you might have to do with dishes or the like.

Before you clean your phone or tablet, be sure to turn it off.

If you already have a case, take it off as well.

Then wipe the display, exterior buttons, and outer casing with a microfiber cloth gently and in a circular motion.

For stubborn marks, dab the cloth with a small amount of distilled water and repeat.

If you have a removable battery, remove the battery cover and battery and give them a quick wipe down as well.

Don't forget to give your case the same treatment. Pay special attention to the corners and other areas where things might accumulate.

Is Your Phone Really Dirty?

While Google, Motorola, Apple, and other major manufacturers don't recommend using any kind of chemicals on their devices, a cursory search of the internet yields considerable anecdotal evidence that, used sparingly and carefully, ethyl or isopropyl alcohol will not cause damage.

If you feel it is absolutely necessary to do a deeper cleaning, you can use a solution consisting of 40% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol and 60% distilled water. 

Spray a small amount of the cleaning solution onto your microfiber cloth and apply gentle pressure to your phone’s screen in a circular motion.

Warning: Never spray liquids of any kind directly on your phone and be very careful. You run the risk of voiding your phone’s warranty, damaging your phone, or both!

You can also use a cotton swab, dampened with the cleaning solution, to dab the contacts of both battery and phone’s battery cradle if you notice any build-up there.

Do the same for your phone’s exterior ports as well, i.e. 3.5mm jack, USB port, etc. Wait a few minutes and replace the battery and cover. 


3. Buy Special Wipes For Electronics

Single-use lens wipes are another, affordable way to clean your phone or tablet.

Zeiss makes single use wipes that are safe for all exterior parts of your phone. But they are quite dry.

If you have a larger phone, or want to clean more than one phone at once, we find the larger single-use wipes from Care Touch have just enough moisture to clean a phone and tablet in one use (or our glasses and phone.)

Looking for a bit more cleaning clout? 

Wireless Wipes are yet another option. These pre-moistened, single-use towelettes are safe for your phone’s screen. But they take the lens wipe concept one step further by also being antibacterial and disinfecting.

There are many similar products available, offering slight variations in formulation and scent.

A quick internet search will also get you a range in pricing too.


4. Use a UV Accessory To Annihilate Germs

You can also use UV light to kill the germs and bacteria on your gadgets.

The Phonesoap Charger is an innovative product that both charges your phone and uses UV-C light to kill all germs and bacteria. The makers claim that UV-C light can kill as much as 99.99% of all germs in a quick 10-minute cycle.

The Phonesoap 3 retails for $59.95.

While we can't exactly conduct lab tests with one, many reviewers on Amazon claim to have done so and back up the maker's claims.

If you combine Phonesoap for the tiny germs with a microfiber cloth to take care of debris and visual dirt, you’ve got all bases covered.

Better still, you can use it for anything small enough to fit in the opening. Reviews indicate people use it to clean their toothbrush heads, baby pacifiers, jewelry, watches, and other small items.


In Summary

You don’t need to spend a lot of time or money to keep your phone clean.

  • Keep germs away with a good case and screen protector
  • Regularly clean both your hands and your phone
  • Stop sharing your phone with family and friends if possible
  • Consider lens and screen wipes or a UV sanitizer for added oomph

While the products mentioned above are effective and worth considering, frequent hand-washing and common sense will take you a long way in keeping germs and bacteria at bay.


Have a horror story about phone germs? Or a secret cleaning tip you use to keep the germs at bay? Did you try one of our recommendations? Tell us all about it in the comments below!