How to Safely Clean Your Tablet or Mobile Phone Touchscreen

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Cleaning your smartphone or tablet screen is easy—but you need to make sure you’re doing it the right way. This means employing the right type of cleaner, as well as a material suited to cleaning.

After all, if you don’t know what to avoid, you might end up damaging the touchscreen. This can potentially render the device useless. Below we cover how safely and correctly clean your mobile phone or tablet touchscreen.

How Not to Clean a Cell Phone or Tablet Touchscreen

Be sure to clean your phone touchscreen display carefully with a microfiber cloth

Before we go over a quick and easy method to safely clean your device’s touchscreen, let’s cover some mistakes you should never make when cleaning a smartphone touchscreen:

  • Never use harsh chemicals, including Windex, anything with ammonia, or alcohol-based cleaners. If a liquid is necessary, you should only use a small amount of water on the cloth. While you can purchase special cleaning solutions (such as iKlenz, recommended by Apple) these are not necessary.
  • Never use abrasive cloths, paper towels, or tissue paper, which can scratch the touchscreen. The scratches may be small, but they will build up over time, damaging and dulling the screen. Instead, use microfiber cloths, which are specially designed to clean sensitive surfaces.
  • Never use a large amount of water. If water is necessary to clean the screen, you should dampen your microfiber cloth instead. It’s a good idea to power off your device ahead of time if any water is necessary.
  • Never press too hard while cleaning the screen. Excessive pressure can damage your device.

The steps outlined below are intended for cleaning glass screens. If your screen is covered in a plastic screen protector, you can use other types of cleaning solutions. Check the screen protector’s packaging or refer to the manufacturer’s website for details.

Want a Clean Tablet or Phone Screen? Use a Microfiber Cloth

To clean a touchscreen, all you really need is a microfiber cloth. For dirtier screens, you may also need a small amount of plain water (soap is not necessary).

The term “microfiber cloth” may sound a bit fancy, but they’re extremely common and cheap. If you have a pair of eyeglasses, they probably came with a microfiber cloth for cleaning the lenses.

Cloths like the MagicFiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloths safely clean sensitive glass surfaces without scratching, whether it’s a pair of glasses or a glass touchscreen. You may also have received a microfiber cloth with another device.

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Why are microfiber cloths suited for this task? They contain very small fibers which won’t scratch your touchscreen. The microfibers also attract dust and oils, pulling them off your device’s screen instead of rubbing them around the display. A few quick wipes with a microfiber cloth and your phone’s touchscreen should be clean.

Don’t have one? In a pinch, you can use a cotton cloth or the corner of a cotton t-shirt. However, the best results will always come from a microfiber cloth.

How to Clean a Mobile Touchscreen

Now that you have the appropriate cloth to clean your screen, the process is simple:

  1. Turn off the device. This step is optional, but if plan to use any water, it’s a good idea. At the very least, turning off the device’s screen allows you to see the dirt more easily.
  2. Wipe horizontally or vertically across the touchscreen in one repeating direction with the microfiber cloth. This motion sweeps grime away and is the safest way to clean the screen.
    1. For example, start at the left side of the screen and wipe straight across to the right side of the screen. Afterwards, move the cloth a bit lower and repeat this process to clean the entire screen.
  3. If necessary, use a small amount of water to make a corner of the cloth slightly damp. Make sure you apply the water to the cloth, not the device. Use the damp part of the cloth to clean the screen in the same way. (Rubbing in a small circle may be necessary if the grime refuses to come off.)
    1. For particularly troublesome grease, you may consider a screen cleaning fluid, which you can buy from a store like Walmart or Amazon. You can also make your own using ten parts distilled water and one part white vinegar. Decant your mix into a suitable spray bottle—remember to spray the cloth, not the phone or tablet.
  4. Wipe the screen with the dry part of the microfiber cloth. Leave any remaining moisture on on the screen to air-dry; don’t try too hard to dry it with the cloth.

Cleaning a tablet touchscreen

While it might sound confusing, this is the most complicated way to explain the process. In most cases, simply turning the device’s screen off and giving it a few wipes across with a microfiber cloth will be enough to remove any dust and oil in just a few seconds.

To clean the microfiber cloth itself and prevent build-up of dirt, soak the cloth in warm soapy water, rinse well, and let it dry. Don’t use any harsh chemicals to clean the cloth, as they can damage it.

How to Clean Your iPad or Tablet Screen

Looking for a way to clean your iPad screen? Since the construction of most tablets resembles large phones, you can follow most of the steps to clean your tablet.

Nevertheless, the cleaning challenges facing tablet owners can differ considerably. For example, any iPad or other tablet stored in a silicon case is likely to have significant dust and dirt gathered under its edges.

Check for accumulated dirt under the edges of your tablet case

As such, it is wise to remove your tablet from the case before cleaning. With a child’s tablet, the accumulated crud may require several attempts before it’s back to spotless.

Can You Clean a Touchscreen With Windex?

As noted above, you should not put standard Windex on a smartphone touchscreen. It’s unsuitable for use with phones and tablets.

This doesn’t mean that you have no options around Windex, however. The Windex range includes a vinegar glass cleaner and an ammonia-free option. Nonetheless, we recommend avoiding these as well, since they’re made for use on standard glass.

Instead, if you really want to use Windex products, try the Windex Electronics Wipes. These are intended for use on TVs, smartphones, tablets, ereaders, and more. You can use these as you would a microfiber cloth to remove fingerprints, dust, and smudges.

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While you can buy cleaning kits and expensive cleaning solutions like iKlenz and Monster CleanTouch, these aren’t necessary. A simple microfiber cloth and some water will work just as well in most situations.

Keep Your Touchscreen Clean

Once you’ve cleaned your phone or iPad touchscreen, it’s a good idea to keep it as clean as possible. Follow these tips to keep your device looking pristine:

  • Wash your hands regularly. Less oil on your hands means fewer smudges on your touchscreen.
  • Keep your device in a case. This will help keep it clean and a case with a soft interior can absorb some of the grease.
  • Don’t let children use your phone. Doing so almost guarantees that you’ll have to spend time cleaning your tech.

Have more devices to keep nice? Here’s how to safely clean a PC or laptop screen How to Clean a Computer Screen Safely and Easily How to Clean a Computer Screen Safely and Easily Concerned by your PC or laptop's dirty screen? Feel it's time to clean up the display? Here's how to clean a computer screen. Read More and how to fully clean your dirty iPhone How to Clean a Dirty iPhone: A Step-by-Step Guide How to Clean a Dirty iPhone: A Step-by-Step Guide If you've had your iPhone for a while, it's probably disgusting. Here's how to clean your iPhone properly, and what you should avoid. Read More .

Explore more about: Hardware Tips, Smartphone Repair, Touchscreen.

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  1. keyur patel
    January 10, 2020 at 9:09 am

    I've been using iCloths (iCloth - Select a wipe size for your device) or (Amazon.com: iCloth) for several years now. They are the perfect phone screen cleaner, hands down!! I've tried other products from dry cloths, to alcohol rubs, to my t-shirt, nothing else comes close to clearing so thoroughly.

  2. nitesh
    November 14, 2019 at 10:50 pm

    Can I use isopropyl alcohol because water couldn't clean all the oil and grease?

  3. Lyman
    June 6, 2019 at 6:54 am

    Thanks for sharing excellent informations. Your website is very cool. I am impressed by the details that you’ve on this site. It reveals how nicely you understand this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for extra articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found simply the information I already searched everywhere and just couldn't come across. What a great website.

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  4. Andrew Hays
    June 27, 2018 at 9:56 am

    This, however, does nothing to sanitize. If you use half water (some say distilled is best) and half distilled white vinegar, you will sanitize your phone as well.

  5. David K.
    February 23, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    simple and useful information

  6. swaminath
    July 22, 2016 at 5:38 am

    Talking on phone for long time made my mobiles screen guard catch oil in it what should I do?

  7. Anonymous
    May 20, 2015 at 1:45 am

    An excellent article on cleaning. Now how about an article on disinfecting?

    • Andrew
      June 27, 2018 at 9:59 am

      Half distilled water and half distilled white vinegar!

  8. Deanna R. Jones
    February 26, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I've always wondered about how I can clean my smartphone screen without damaging my phone. I usually get a lot of grease and dirt from my face on my phone and it grosses me out. It's good to know that I can easily clean it by using a microfiber cloth and a little bit of water. I'll be sure to do this to clean my phone from now on.

  9. Anonymous
    January 25, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    I worked with sensitive electronics in dusty environments with the Army. Most technical manuals suggest 70% or better isopropyl alcohol and a lint free cloth or tech wipe to remove dust, dirt and oils from electronics. The cloth should be damp, not soaked in the alcohol and wiped lightly. The alcohol will evaporate quickly and won't damage your electronics and will transfer the dirt and grime to the cloth. I've used it for years with no negative effects to my electronics.

    • Bill Stoupe
      March 18, 2017 at 9:51 pm

      A touch screen is not electronics. We're not cleaning the inside of the phone.

  10. LadyB
    May 5, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Thanks a lot for your help, I was just going to use an alcohol-based solution to disinfect it, but luckily I read about it firstly :)

  11. Deji Greg
    November 24, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Thanks much, this was helpful

  12. Andrew Jordan
    November 21, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Great simple practical article Thank you. With my I phone 4s I have not been using a screen protector as the glass seems to soak up the fingerprints much better than the protector's do. I know I'm naughty but there is a big difference. With the protector I had to clean every day, with the glass it's about once a week. I've read up on the glass and it does have some properties that help this process.
    Would people read the whole article before posting? He explained how to clean the microfiber clothes (and thank you again) (but what do you use ?)

  13. Debra Beshears
    November 21, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks, this was really useful.

  14. Sarah Card
    November 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Will make my husband read this, he insists on buying expensive "specialty" products.

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 30, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      At the very least, it's worth a try before buying the more expensive stuff again!

  15. Michael Novak
    November 21, 2012 at 3:50 am

    Unfortunately, cleaning a touch screen with water does not remove bacteria or other pathogens that may cause disease or illness. My wife uses Windex on her iPhone with a paper towel for the past 3 years. She reports no problems with her phone.

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 30, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      Try, this doesn't disinfect it. Maybe a disinfectant would be useful, but I wouldn't use Windex (i'm shocked there are no problems!)

  16. pmshah
    November 21, 2012 at 2:12 am

    Although the current trend is towards capacitive touch screens, the older resistive types are still in use and they are extremely delicate to any kind of abrasion / scratching. In such case the best option is to have easy peel off type protector film.

    The more popular capacitive type are made of hardened / toughened glass, like Corning or Schott. These are very hard to scratch unles you get something like emery particle on your finger tip and use swype action.

    For these you have left out the easiest and free method. Exhale on to the screen with your mouth wide open. Enough steam will condense for the purpose of cleaning. Take any normal news paper - the old absorbent - non coated - crumple it in a loose ball. Clean with it using gentle strokes..

  17. Arron Walker
    November 20, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Simple and effective, nice article

  18. Birger Munthe
    November 20, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    go by a pair of glasses - get some microfiber

  19. Anonymous
    November 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Great advice for tablets and smartphones.
    How about Touch screens in cars? I now have what appears to be perminent finger marks on my screen. Any suggestions.
    Thanks

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 30, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      Never seen a touch screen in a car, but I'd try the same sort of process.

  20. Anonymous
    November 20, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks for tips

  21. Ranie
    November 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    wow nice tutorial, recently I bought an ipad one of my problem how to remove some dirt on it screen. Glad to found this helful article. Thanks makeuseof

  22. Somaiya Ebrahim
    November 20, 2012 at 11:41 am

    ..or you could just lick it clean... ;)

  23. Gerhard Tinned
    November 20, 2012 at 8:31 am

    I totally agree that the right cleaning makes a difference. Its like cleaning your glasses. But does it really make such a big difference? You where glasses for a lot of years some times and when you not clean the properly you see it because its right in front of your eyes. But when it comes to a tablet, ... do you have it long enough to see the difference? And if yes, most screens from my experience get not damaged by cleaning them. They get scratches from not protecting the screen while on the go ... you put it unprotected in you bag, and so on.

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      Especially in sunlight, the oily smears can look quite unslightly.

  24. Jim Spencer
    November 20, 2012 at 6:07 am

    This is one of those articles that, while not a profound revelation, is still a good piece of advice. I discovered that using microfiber cloth was very useful a couple of years age, so I have carried a small square of it with me. The wiping motion you describe is fine, it is much like polishing something, so I wipe very briskly in a horizontal direction while applying very little pressure. My screen usually stays crisp and sharp and makes me feel like I can be proud of its appearance.

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      Yup, it's very simple -- I think the main thing to be aware of is what _not_ to use.

  25. Ashish K Yadav
    November 20, 2012 at 5:24 am

    What about coating on screens like laptop screen. Sometimes it gets so smudged that a cleaning liquid is required but I also noticed that it clears away the coating of screen. What to do in that case?

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 30, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      Definitely don't use that cleaning liquid! Microfiber cloth + maybe a bit of water to damp it has been my go-to cleaning solution for my computer screens for years.

  26. Eng Chua
    November 20, 2012 at 2:19 am

    How do I wash the microfiber cloth after it gets dirty?

  27. CaptainJack
    November 19, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    I never hear any explanation on what to do when your microfiber cloth becomes dirty with oils, and dirt, etc. Can you clean and reuse them???? IF so HOW???

    Thanks,

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 30, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      As I said in the post, soak it in warm soapy water, rinse well, then let it dry -- that should do it.

  28. Robert Backlund
    November 19, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    I use an old home made cleaning solution when needed, say to remove greasy finger prints after eating potato chips etc. It is made using white vinegar and water, preferably distilled water, I usually make it in the following concentration a 50-50 mix of water and white vinegar. This works great on your car windows and windows in your home as well. For regular windows (not pc monitors) using regular news paper to wipe the window dry works better than paper towels because it will not leave any lint behind on your clean windows.

  29. Sharon
    November 19, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    My absolute favorite iPad/iPhone cleaning cloth is MOBiLE CLOTH. (I don't work for them.). I use lotion on my hands a lot and my screens are really a mess. I've used regular microfiber cloths but they eventually just smear my smudges on my screen without cleaning it off. Without exception, MOBiLE CLOTH cleans my screen perfectly.

    • Ned
      November 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      I would be surprised to learn that alcohol based liquids could etch the screen. A bit of isopropal alcohol is particularly very useful for cutting oils and grease. Especially so for those of us who use our phones while grabbing a burger or pizza.

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 30, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      It makes sense that you might need something stronger if a lot of lotion ends up on the screen, certainly. I'd try this method before buying a more expensive product, though!

  30. Anonymous
    November 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    I have found the softest paper towels are kitchen rolls especially the Plenty type that work when wet, .

    They also do not disintegrate in the washing machine if left in a pocket.

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 30, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      I would avoid using paper towels, the wood fibers (paper is made of wood, after all) can scratch and dull the screen a bit, even if it's soft paper.

  31. Sc Ling
    November 19, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Thanks for this helpful article. I was always wondering how to safely screen of my tablet. Now I know how to do it. :-)

  32. Félix S. De Jesús
    November 19, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Wonder Why the screen can't be shine with liquid... can get worse.

  33. Douglas Mutay
    November 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I have lost the microfiber cloth that comes with my BB Playbook and now use tissue paper to clean my screen. Now just wondering what i will do until i get another one :-(

  34. dwream
    November 19, 2012 at 12:50 am

    Thanks for a helpful column. I frequently use Clorox wipes to clean my entire cell phone. I've read articles in health magazines about how germs collect on cell phones. Using the Clorox brand, or other disinfecting wipe, is an effective way to clean and kill germs at the same time. (Although Clorox also makes bleach, the Clorox wipes are bleach-free.)

  35. druv vb
    November 18, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    A clean swipe a day keeps the dust away...
    I usually clean my phone with a damp towel everday. Same goes for all items I use everyday. And yet my phone still has its screen protector from day one, and am not removing that any soon.

  36. mohit kumar
    November 18, 2012 at 5:27 am

    Good post. Not many such posts are there on internet.

  37. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    November 18, 2012 at 4:38 am

    I have a lot of microfiber cloths so I can keep one for cleaning touchscreen.
    How to clean laptop screen? Mine is caked with dust and whatnot every few days no matter how hard I tried, and I just use microfiber cloth to wipe the dust away.

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 30, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      Microfiber cloth works just fine. No oil should be on your screen, so a quick wipe with the cloth will take away the dust.

      A slightly wet cloth with the same sort of rubbing will work if something won't come off, but be more careful with an LCD laptop screen -- they aren't meant to be touched and aren't as sturdy as a smartphone's glass touchscreen. Don't press too hard!

  38. Joseph Darwin Co
    November 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    thanks for this!

  39. Nikhil Chandak
    November 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Thanks for the tips
    these are very useful while cleaning a touch screen smartphone or a tablet

  40. Krzysztof Buzko
    November 17, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Until now I was using an LCD screen cleaner. What I didn't know, is it could damage my screen. I tried this guide and it works. Fast and cheap way to clean TouchScreen. Thanks.

  41. Terafall
    November 17, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Thank you for the useful tips

  42. susendeep dutta
    November 17, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Nice article.If the device is protected by screen protector and if it's rubbed by any cloth,then no damage will occur to the screen.

  43. ion popa
    November 17, 2012 at 7:07 am

    Simple yet efficacious.
    I know some people who think that cleaning the touchscreen should be a very complex procedure - like brain surgery for instance :)

  44. sakthi vel
    November 17, 2012 at 5:39 am

    Nice

  45. Ashwin Ramesh
    November 17, 2012 at 3:07 am

    Nice.. simple and effective way of cleaning :)