How to quickly and safely clean the iPhone, iPad, or anything else with a screen

How to quickly and safely clean the iPhone, iPad, or anything else with a screen

Summary: Is the screen on your iPhone or iPad (or whatever device you happen to be using) caked with grease, earprints, fingerprints and muck? Here's how you can return your screen to the condition it was when you first laid eyes on it.

TOPICS: Mobility

One of the most annoying things about touchscreen devices is that the screen becomes caked with fingerprints, grease, dirt, earprints, and other assorted muck. Even devices that you don't touch – like notebooks, desktop monitors, and TVs – screens can still get covered in assorted debris.

Given that I spend a great deal of my time both looking at and using devices that have screens, I've put a lot of thought into coming up with the best possible way to keep screens clean. This has ranged from hurring on them and wiping them across a t-shirt, to using strange and wacky cleaning devices that promise a perfect finish.

Some do a pretty good job, others leave the screen in a worse condition than when you started.

My screen cleaning regime involves three products, and the beauty of it is that it allows me to clean all my screens (from my iPhone to my flat-screen TV) and also the optics on camera lenses and binoculars. It takes a lot more patience to clean a flat-screen TV than it does and iPhone, so I suggest you start small and practice before taking on a big job.

The three products are:

  • ROR Residual Oil Remover – A liquid that comes in either a bottle with a dropper applicator or a spray. Since you need less than you think you do the dropper might be better than the spray to start out with.
  • Pec*Pads – These are lint-free, ultra-soft non-abrasive wipes. They come in a few different sizes but I find the 4-inch by 4-inch to be the best.
  • Selvyt polishing cloths – Go for the universal polishing cloth as opposed to the microfiber because it has better absorption qualities. You can use other brands of polishing cloths (as long as they aren't impregnated with anything) but this is the best one I've come across.

Now it's time to get to work.

Apply a drop or two of ROR to a Pec*Pad and use this to remove the oil and grease. Apply less ROR than you think you need – don't soak the cloth and don’t apply it direct to the screen in case it makes its way inside the device. Work in a circular pattern.

If there's a lot of muck on the screen give it multiple passes with the ROR and Pec*Pad.

Then, once you're satisfied that the grease and fingerprints are off, finish off the job with the polishing cloth, again working in circular pattern until you've gone over the whole screen.

If you find a patch of stubborn dirt, or find yourself hitting another grease slick, go back to the ROR and Pec*Pad.

Some tips for a good finish:

  • Brush or blow off any sand or other abrasives that might be on the screen as these might cause scratches.
  • Take off any case you might have on the device as they will prevent you from getting in to the edges.
  • Less is more. A couple of drops of ROR on a Pec*Pad should be all you need for something the size of an iPad (unless it's cakes with filth).
  • Work methodically. I find it best to start in one corner, but others like to start in the middle.
  • Clean your screens regularly.
  • Don't rush!

Topic: Mobility

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  • DANG

    There goes my spit-clean-n-shine regime.
    Kidding of course.
    What I do is...
    One good cleaning.
    Immediately wipe on Rain-X. (2 coats)
    __ (One drop, wipe until dry. #2 coat again till dry and buff)
    So far this drastically reduces 'muck and myre' from attaching itself to the screen. It's also way-way easier to clean. Damp cloth & wipe.
    I was so impressed with Rain-X I did my kitchens ceramic counter top. WOW, is it shiny and food don't stick. (yes, I checked with the MFG on food safe)
    Slightly scratched eyeglasses? FIXED!
    • OH!

      Before Rain-X I was a wax freak.
      Rain-X once a month and it's just a one coat touch up. Wax was almost twice a week.
    • An old trick from the Navy...

      Apply a thin coat of turtle-wax to the tub tile surround every couple of months. Not the tub, too slippery (slippy?).
  • plain and simple method :)

    I just rub my phone on my jeans or shirt. I don't bother with a deep clean because it'll get screwed up within minutes! (seconds?)
  • Very simple cleaning

    I use the same disposable moist towelettes that I use to clean my eye glasses; no fear of too much moisture or scratching. Clean my glasses first then my phone and iPad.
  • Better cleaner

    Ivory soap (not dish detergent). Just a little on a moist Kleenex, then two or three more moist Kleenexes without soap, done and cheap.
  • Cleaning

    For my Acer X223W monitor AND for my Kobo ebook reader,
    a clean soft (cotton) Dishcloth, wetted in HOT water, squeezed till only damp.
    Wipe all edges & corners, screen comes up looking like new.

    And the plus for the environmental freak, no chemicals going down the drain on the rinse.
  • Cleaning iPad,iPhone,glasses

    Regular rubbing alcohol and use a soft cloth. Old T-shirt, or for those who have any left a used cloth diaper.
    • a USED diaper?

      thanks for searing this image into my mind
  • Sicky Tape

    Sticky Tape (Not sure what the American's call it) is also very useful before you out down a fresh sheet of screen protector.

    It gets lint, and most oil off with a few rips
    • Tack cloth?

      Do you mean tack cloth that is used before painting?
  • Overkill

    Jeez, just use a decent quality tissue, dampened with a few drops of water.
  • So...

    Even though there's absolutely NOTHING in this article that's iDevice specific - and in fact no iDevice is ever mentioned in the actual article... the headline HAD to read:

    "How to quickly and safely clean the iPhone, iPad, or anything else with a screen"

    rather than the shorter, less brand-promoting and just as accurate:

    "How to quickly and safely clean any gadget that has a screen"

    because (a) iPhones aren't smartphones; they're SPECIAL and (b) iPads aren't tablets; they're SPECIAL... and they have to be called out. I guess iDevice fans just can't figure out the article applies to them if you don't mention them by name...

    Side note: the headline is actually ambiguous: it could be read as how to clean anything *using* a screen as a cleaning device. I corrected that as well. You're welcome.
    • Well said

      iXXXX fan boy once, iXXXX fan boy forever!
  • For glass screens

    For glass screens like cellphones, tablets, touchscreen laptops, etc...

    Personal use, keep it with the device: Cloth Addiction microfiber cloth (reviewed on ZDNet:

    Cleaning lots of screens during projects (100+ during rollouts, reconfigs, etc.): Scott Rags (low lint, heavy duty paper towels) in the big yellow box of 350. Dampen one with water, rub in circular motion on screen, finish with a dry one. Each towel will last through several screen cleanings.
  • The iPhone screen is oleophobic...

    no need for all of that.

    I wipe mine on my pants or shirt.
    • I'll go with shirts

      ...from 45 years experience with lenses, film and later mobil screens, I'd say that the bit of your shirt that is tucked into your trousers is probably the bit of cloth least likely to contain particles that will scratch surfaces, unless you have a specialist micropore cloth that has not been left sitting around in the open.

      A specialist micropore cloth that has been left sitting around in the open should probably be thrown away.
      Henry 3 Dogg
  • Esay effectiv screen cleaning

    I have found that spraying isopropyl alcohol from a small spray bottle and using a microfiber cloth works great on all screens. Simple, cheap, and effective.
  • Crystal Clear Screens

    I've tried a few but found "CleanSeal" the best. It is available from Mobile Fun, and a little goes a long way.
  • Disinfect? UV light...

    If you're worried about germs and don't want to chance using a solvent like alcohol, bleach or ammonia, try ultraviolet light. Surely if it can disinfect water and tooth brushes, UV can take care of anything infectious on a phone or tablet. Good ol' sunshine for me, but if you must have a gadget to do it, something like this may suffice.
    I disinfect my case with soap, water, and a bit of bleach.