Illustration for article titled Your Phone Is Disgusting. Oh Please, Won’t You Clean It?
Image: Przemyslaw Marczynski (Unsplash)

SqualorJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She’ll be here every week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? [Email her.](  

A fact of my very clean life that often surprises people is that I’m not a germaphobe. I just don’t get super freaked out at the idea or the reality of touching gross things! One place, however, where this is not true is with other people’s phones. I absolutely HATE touching them, and I do my best to avoid it. Why? Well, you already know, but let me state it emphatically: Your phones, they are disgusting. I mean, I can see the filth on them from a mile away.

They’re filthy for the reason you’re thinking, which is that everyone is scroll-scroll-scrolling and tap-tap-tapping away on them while sitting on the toilet, sure. But also: We use them at the gym, we set them down on countertops in public places, we peck away at them while chowing down on a greasy burger. And so, they are gross. Oh please, won’t you clean them? Oh sure, I’ll tell you how!

Now that we’ve established that basically no one is cleaning their phone often enough, some good news: Regular cleaning a phone and its case is a less-than-30-second operation. You don’t even need any fancy specialty cleaners, though if you’d like one you certainly may have one. A brand called WHOOSH sells a kit that includes a small bottle of phone cleaner and a microfiber cloth for wiping screens, phone backs and/or cases without causing scratching. They also offer pre-moistened wipes. But honestly, you don’t need these products — good old rubbing alcohol will do the job just as well.

What is worth getting a special set of is fine microfiber cloths for cleaning screens and glass — they’re what you want for your phone, yes, but also eyeglasses if you wear them, tablets and laptops and television screens. The cloths will allow you to clean delicate screens without scratching the surface, which paper towels and even tissues can do. So if at all possible, avoid the use of paper products when cleaning a phone screen.

Even the most diligent phone cleaner will need to do a more thorough clean from time to time — crumbs and hairs and all manner of foreign matter will build up in the space between the phone and the case, so you’ll want to take the case off and give it a good scrubbing. This is also the way you’ll treat stains on the case, if those have happened and they bother you. Oh right, and this is for sure the thing you’ll do if, say, someone were to upend a full glass of frosé all over your phone. Not that I know anything about that, nope, just a hypothetical.


Here’s the thing: Deep cleaning a phone case is as easy as washing a dish. Just like with regular cleaning, you don’t need any specialty products—dish soap will more than do the trick. Start by removing the phone case and wash it with hot soapy water. That’s all! Then, let it dry entirely before putting it back on the phone. If the case is very sticky, you may want to use a Dobie Pad to scrub it (don’t use an abrasive scrub sponge which can cause scratching or take off any decorative detail the case might feature), rubbing alcohol can also help cut through sticky patches, as can baking soda. And speaking of baking soda! If there are stains on the case that you want to remove, baking soda+water+toothbrush is the ticker. A Magic Eraser may also be needed.

One last tip: Depending on the material, some phone cases can also be cleaned in the top rack of the dishwasher.


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