How to Properly Disinfect Your Phone Without Damaging the Screen

Jin, 9 May 2020

Are you cleaning your phone the right way?

The circuit breaker policy here in Singapore is in full swing, and most of us are spending more and more time at home and on our phones, whether it’s playing a game, making a shopping list for all the things you need to pick up from the store before they’re gone, or catching up on the latest news of the Covid-19 spread. It’s depressing news indeed, as the number of novel cases continues to rise day by day. And studies have found the coronavirus can survive on common phone materials such as glass, metal and ceramic for up to and maybe even longer than nine days, making your own beloved phone a possible vector for transmission.

Most of us should know by now to wash our hands regularly as one of the best methods of stopping transmission of the virus, but what about “washing” your phone? It’s easier than ever to clean your phone nowadays, especially with waterproof phones like the iPhone 11 and newer Samsung Galaxy models, but this doesn’t mean that all cleaning agents and techniques are fair game. Harsh cleaners (like bleach) and techniques such as air dusters can eventually damage the screen and the insides of the phone that you love so much.   

We here at NaoClean will tell you which cleaning agents to avoid and which to trust (hint: ours, of course!) as well as the best techniques for makeup and fingerprint removal.

Alcohol is the first thing that most people think of

alcohol wipes to disinfect phone

Alcohol is the first thing that most people think of

Everyone’s first instinct when cleaning their phone is to reach for the nearest bottle of alcohol-based sanitizer. Don’t; alcohol strips the oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings on your phone’s screen that keep oil and water from damaging it. Considering the amount of oil the skin on your fingertips produce every day, cleaning your phone with rubbing alcohol is a surefire way to strip your phone’s screen of its protective layer and create irregularities and scratches on its surface. 


It is possible to create a mix of alcohol and water for a diluted solution that cleans phone screens without damaging them, but getting the concentration right can be a hassle. Instead, it’s best to use disinfectant wipes (such as Clorox wipes) that contain 70% isopropyl alcohol to clean your phone and skip all the guesswork.


How to clean fingerprints from your phone’s screen 

Fingerprint on Phone

A touchscreen covered in fingerprints

Since your skin is constantly producing sebum and oils, no matter how hard you try, your phone is bound to get fingerprint smudges all over it sooner or later. While they aren’t necessarily damaging to your phone screen, they certainly are a sight for sore eyes.

The safest and most effective way to remove them is with a microfiber cloth. You can dampen the cloth slightly with distilled water to wipe down your screen as well as the back of your phone to remove all smudges.

Remove sand and lint with this trick

Carrying your phone everywhere with you inevitably means that the lint lining your pockets as well as the sand from outdoors can get stuck in the tiny ports and crevices of your phone where the screen is attached to the main body.

It’s best to remove these using Scotch tape. Lay the sticky side down along the creases and speaker, and also roll it up into a cylindrical shape and gently insert it into the ports. Then, simply pull the tape off and any lint and sand should come along with it.

For smaller holes that tape can’t reach, try a toothpick (be careful!) or a vacuum with the proper nozzle tool attached.

Remove makeup safely from your phone

Getting all prettied up for a call with someone special might just give your phone screen a makeover as well. And while your makeup might look gorgeous on you, it certainly doesn’t have quite the same effect when smeared all over your phone’s screen. But don’t reach for that makeup remover you use every night on your phone as well, as there might be ingredients such as alcohol, chlorine, ammonia or phosphates that damage your phone’s screen coatings.

Instead, much like removing fingerprint smudges, simply dampen a microfiber cloth slightly and then wipe your phone screen down. Try to use only as much water as you need to dampen the cloth slightly, and then toss that cloth into the washing machine when you’re finished to thoroughly wash away all traces of makeup from it.

Can you wash waterproof phones?

Rinsing a phone with water

Rinsing a phone with water

If it’s rated IP67 and above, sure! Phones like the iPhone 7 and the Galaxy S phones can withstand a full rinsing in water and can even be fully submerged for up to 30 minutes at a time. Still, this doesn’t mean it’s always the best idea to dunk your phone in running water, as water in the ports means that you will have to wait for them to dry properly before you can charge your phone again.

Instead, wet a cloth under a tap and clean your phone thoroughly with that. Then, you can pat your phone with a soft, dry towel, making sure that you dry all speakers and ports. 

Hand sanitizers and soaps

Hand sanitizers are better for your hands than your phone screen due to the ingredients they contain, mostly ethyl alcohol which strips your phone screen of its protective coatings. Still, it’s always a good idea to sanitize your hands first before picking up your phone.

As for gentle dish and hand soaps, even then it’s best to combine and dilute them with water before applying them to your phone. Wet a damp cloth with diluted soap before wiping your phone down, then wipe the excess away with a microfiber cloth.


Keeping your phone clean is a major step in keeping yourself free from common bacteria and viruses. It’s tempting to reach for the most common sanitizing products around us today, which usually contain alcohol, but these tend to strip away the valuable protective coatings on your phone screen. Fear not, however, because we here at Naoclean specialize in non-alcohol-based disinfectants, meaning they are safe for use with delicate products like phone screens. Take a look at some of our suitable EPA registered disinfectants.

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