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Ask Engadget: What's the best way to clean my touchscreen?

Because people are disgusting and they touch things with their hands.
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Emilija Manevska via Getty Images

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The support shared among readers in the comments section is one of the things we love most about the Engadget community. Over the years, we've known you to offer sage advice on everything from Chromecasts and cameras to drones and smartphones. In fact, our community's knowledge and insights are a reason why many of you participate in the comments.

We truly value the time and detail you all spend in responding to questions from your fellow tech-obsessed commenters, which is why we've decided to bring back the much-missed "Ask Engadget" column. This week's question is straightforward and concerns touchscreens. Weigh in with your advice in the comments -- and feel free to send your own questions along to ask@engadget.com!

What's the best way to clean a smartphone screen (or touchscreen)?


Devindra Hardawar

Devindra Hardawar
Senior Editor

Use a microfiber cloth. If there's dirt, spray a bit of water on the cloth first, then rub until clean. That's it!

OK, maybe it's a bit more complicated than that, but those are the key concepts to keep in mind. When cleaning any piece of electronics, you never want to spray water or a cleaning solution on it directly. Water and a bit of elbow grease are usually enough. For stubborn stains, you can also cut the water solution a bit with vinegar. If you don't have a microfiber cloth around, a soft piece of moistened paper towel will do as well.

The process is a bit tougher if you want to truly sanitize your phone's screen. For traditional LCD screens, you should never use an alcohol-based cleaner. But with glass touchscreens, you can get away with a bit on a microfiber cloth. Even Apple doesn't recommend using an alcohol-based cleaner, but if you step into an Apple store, you'll find workers using pre-moistened alcohol wipes left and right. Go figure, right? While I wouldn't recommend doing this daily, a quick wipedown with an alcohol-based solution is the best way to kill all the germs nesting on your phone.


Cherlynn Low

Cherlynn Low
Reviews Editor

I totally agree with Devindra: Microfiber cloth is the way to go. If you don't have one, a wet wipe from Grime Boss or similar designed-for-touchscreen napkin works as well. And if you're on the go and need something quickly, I find that most fabrics work well, as long as they are at least slightly textured. Ribbed sweaters or rougher napkins are good examples, and your shirt sleeve can work in a jiffy too. Not ideal, but good in a pinch!

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
A writer and editor based out of San Francisco, Amber has worked for The Wirecutter, PCWorld, MaximumPC and TechHive. Her work has also appeared on InfoWorld, MacWorld, Details, Apartment Therapy and Broke-Ass Stuart. In her spare time, she takes too many pictures of her cats, watches too much CSI and obsesses over her bullet journal.
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