How To Disinfect A Phone

Since you can’t douse your phone with water and pump soap all over it, we are providing you a comprehensive guide with some different options to disinfect a phone safely.

How To Disinfect A Phone

  • Antibacterial Wipes
  • Alcohol Spray
  • Alcohol and Water Solution 
  • Sanitizing Alcohol Pads
  • Microfiber Cloth
  • Phone Sterilizer Box
  • Screen Protector 

But First, How Dirty Is Your Phone?

Right now, you may be reading this article on your phone, casually scrolling through with your fingers. You may be tempted to brush this off, thinking that your phone isn’t that dirty; but think again. You turn a well-used doorknob then immediately pull out your phone and start texting.

You dig your smartphone out from your pocket and scroll through Instagram while waiting in line at a public bathroom. You dip your finger in ketchup and pop a French fry in your mouth before reaching for your phone. 

While your handheld device may look completely innocent, it actually harbors more bacteria than a toilet seat! A survey by Deloitte shows that Americans touch their phones about 47 times per day, making your phone a prime suspect for passing on harmful bacteria.

You may be told by health authorities to frequently wash your hands with soap and water to ward off bacteria, but the same attention is not paid to sanitizing your phone. As a result, most people neglect cleaning their devices, giving microbes a place to breed, and free passage to your hands.

Antibacterial Wipes

Solutions that contain at least 70% alcohol are recommended and regarded as safe by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to sanitize your phone. That’s because most germs that are on your phone, including E.coli and Streptococcus, can be killed with this concentration ratio.

This can come in the form of antibacterial wipes of any brand, just check to make sure that they contain 70% isopropyl alcohol. For reference, Apple and Samsung recommend Clorox wipes.

Simply take out a new wipe and clean your phone thoroughly by wiping down the screen and back. Make sure to avoid getting moisture into the ports so as not to interfere with your phone’s functionality. 

Alcohol Spray

While it isn’t recommended by phone manufacturers to directly spray an alcohol solution onto your phone for fear of causing internal damage, you can spray a 70% alcohol solution onto a clean cloth and wipe your phone down just as you would with an antibacterial wipe. The result is similar to that of antibacterial wipes which is a bacteria-free phone. 

Alcohol and Water Solution 

If you don’t have a readily available alcohol spray, you can make your own using rubbing alcohol and water. To make 100mL of diluted alcohol, mix 70mL of 99.9% rubbing alcohol with 30mL of distilled water to make a 70% alcohol solution.

After you have it ready, simply clean as you would according to the methods mentioned above. 

Sanitizing Alcohol Pads

You can also disinfect your phone with sanitizing alcohol pads that are used by doctors to disinfect skin for medical procedures. These alcohol pads are often packaged individually, so just rip open the packaging and start wiping down your phone with one of these pads. 

Microfiber Cloth

Since microfiber cloths can attach themselves to the smallest microscopic dirt particles, this ensures that it can clean your phone thoroughly and effectively even though it doesn’t utilize any disinfectant alcohol.

Just make sure that you wash your microfiber cloth after using it so that you don’t get bacteria back on your phone while trying to clean it! 

Phone Sterilizer Box

Up next is definitely one of the fancier options on our list – a phone sterilizer box. This relatively new gadget uses UV light to effectively kill 99.9% of bacteria and germs on your phone.

Though it is on the pricier side, its effective and hassle-free way of usage definitely makes it worth the money. Simply open the box, place your phone in it and close the lid. The little gadget will start its own sterilization process after that, and what’s more, it charges your phone as well! 

Screen Protector 

While this is not necessarily a way of disinfecting your phone, screen protectors help shield your screen from scratches, grime and sweat. Keep in mind that dirty will still accumulate on your protector, however, so you must continue cleaning your screen with the aforementioned methods.

Having a screen protector does prevent cleansers from seeping into the insides of your phone and potentially interfering with its functions. 

Step-by-step Guide to Disinfect A Phone

Now that you have looked at the different options available to disinfect your phone, feel free to follow along to this step-by-step guide and get cleaning! 

  • Remove your phone case and any other accessories
  • Get out your wipe or cloth or whatever you decide to disinfect your phone with
  • Wipe down the entire surface area of your phone
  • Avoid getting moisture into any ports 
  • Let your phone dry before putting it back in your case
  • Clean your phone case as well

Remove your phone case and any other accessories

The first step in cleaning your phone is to remove its case and any other accessories. These will also need to be disinfected, but we will do that in a later step.

In the meantime take your phone out of its protective casing so that we can clean every inch of its surface thoroughly. 

Get out your wipe or cloth or whatever you decide to disinfect your phone with

Get out your antibacterial wipe, microfiber cloth, sanitizing pad… It honestly doesn’t matter. Any of the options suggested above are viable ways to disinfect your phone, so just choose one of them to clean with.

Wipe down the whole surface of your phone

Make sure you don’t only disinfect your screen (even though that tends to be the dirtiest area as you’re always touching it with your fingers) and that you are wiping down the sides and back of your phone as well. Bacteria is everywhere and especially loves to hide in the nooks and crannies of your phone, so make sure to disinfect well and clean thoroughly! 

Avoid getting moisture into any ports 

Getting moisture into your charging port or earphone jack is a no-no as that can seriously impede the functionality of your phone. In some cases, getting your phone wet can cause it to malfunction or even die, so be extra careful when you’re disinfecting around those areas! 

Let your phone dry

Right after cleaning, there is still a lot of moisture left on your phone so you should leave it out to dry before putting it back in its case. Leaving your phone on a dry surface for around five minutes will get the job done. 

Clean your phone case as well

Make sure that you wipe down your phone case and any other accessories as well! Bacteria doesn’t discriminate and is very likely to be hiding in your case as well. Follow the aforementioned steps to wipe down your case thoroughly before putting your phone back in it. 

How Often Should You Disinfect Your Phone?

Since your phone comes into contact with the many surfaces and environments that you are in, it is wise to disinfect it regularly. It isn’t to say, however, that you should clean your phone every time you touch it.

You should really clean your phone every day, perhaps more frequently if you have put it on a contaminated surface such as on public restrooms and transportation. 

What Not to Use to Disinfect Your Phone

We’ve talked about many tried and tested ways to disinfect your phone. But what about methods that you shouldn’t be using? We have you covered with this what NOT to use to disinfect your phone! 

  • Household cleaners
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Makeup remover
  • Soap
  • Vinegar

Household cleaners

Household cleaners, especially ones containing bleach, should under no circumstances be used to clean your phone.

These cleaners are not only incredibly harsh to your phone surface, which puts it at risk of more scratches and dents, it also strips it of its protective coating that is resistant to water and oil. It’s best to avoid these cleaners that can damage your phone. 

Rubbing alcohol

You noticed that in the previous mention, we kept on mentioning how it is important to use a 70% alcohol solution to clean your phone.

That is because this concentration is the perfect mix, it is enough to clean your phone of all dirt and grime while also being gentle enough to not wear away its protective layer.

Rubbing alcohol on the other hand is too harsh for your phone surface and you risk causing damage by using it. 

Makeup remover

It’s in the name – makeup remover is for removing makeup, not disinfecting phones! There are chemicals in these solutions that are harmful to screens. Stick to cleaners that are phone-friendly! 


While soap and water are perfect for washing your hands, the same cannot be applied when cleaning your phone. While antibacterial soap can kill off much of the bacteria that linger on your phone surface, they need to be combined with water and that doesn’t mix well with phones.

Even if your phone says that it is water-resistant, it is not wise to dunk your phone in a pool of water and start scrubbing it up with soap. 


Although vinegar has disinfectant qualities, it is a no-go for cleaning phones. Like household cleaners and rubbing alcohol, vinegar can strip your phone of its protective coating and can do more harm than good. 

Tips to Keep Your Phone Clean

Here are some quick tips for keeping your phone clean. 

  • Avoid using your phone in crowded places
  • Hands off your phone while in the bathroom
  • Don’t eat and scroll at the same time 
  • Keep your phone tucked safely away at the gym

Avoid using your phone in crowded places

Crowded public places are high-risk areas for transmitting bacteria. If at all possible, keep your phone safely tucked away in crowded situations such as on public transportation and busy streets to avoid contaminating your phone with germs. 

Hands off your phone while in the bathroom

Research shows that three out of four Americans use their phones in the bathroom. The toilet is an incredibly dirty place filled with germs.

It may be tempting to take out your phone while in a public toilet, as you have nothing to do, but doing so can expose your device to numerous bacteria, so it’s best to wait it out and use it at a safer place.

Oh, and needless to say, wash your hands after going to the bathroom to ensure that you don’t become the culprit of adding bacteria to your phone! 

Don’t eat and scroll at the same time

Eating while using your phone can put you at risk of ingesting any bacteria that is on your phone. Make sure you’re finished eating and that you wash your hands before touching your phone so as not to risk picking up any harmful bacteria!

Keep your phone tucked safely away at the gym

Gym equipment can also harbor countless bacteria as you don’t know who used it before you and touched it with their sweaty hands.

It is much safer to keep your phone tucked away in your pocket or in an armband to avoid exposing it out in the open where the environment is full of dirt and potential bacteria.