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How do our once beautiful phone cases start to look so bad? Since we use our phones every single day, they become exposed to environmental conditions such as UV radiation, humidity, heat, dust, friction, etc.

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We'll show you how to clean that gross phone the right way. Spoiler alert: Using rubbing alcohol and a paper towel isn't the best idea. As we near the new year, it's approaching the time to set new goals.

Some common resolutions are cleaning or organizing different rooms in your home, and this coming year why not extend those goals to your tech, too? Actually, your iPhone or Android phone could use a good clean to make it last as long as possible. Think about everything you touch -- door handles, buttons and even pens. Between the ongoing spread of coronavirus and the flu, you should regularly disinfect frequently touched items.

And yeah, that includes your phone. You should clean your phone at least once a day by following your phone's manual for cleaning instructions. Cleaning your device the wrong way like using rubbing alcohol and paper towels can strip away coatings that protect your screen. Usually, a disinfectant wipe or microfiber cloth will do the trick. We'll show you the most common ways to clean your phone free of germs and gunk the right way, especially for phones rated for water resistance.

We've recently updated this story. Learn smart gadget and internet tips and tricks with our entertaining and ingenious how-tos. If you touch your phone after touching a public door handle or grocery cart, your first thought might be to clean it with rubbing alcohol. Straight alcohol can strip the oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings that keep oil and water from damaging your phone's display and other ports.

Some websites suggest creating a mix of alcohol and water yourself, but it's crucial to get the concentration right. Get it wrong and you could damage your phone.

Before the pandemic, we were instructed to not use disinfectant wipes on our phone screens, but Apple says it's OK to use Clorox Wipes and others with similar concentrations. Another option for day-to-day cleaning is investing in a UV light, such as PhoneSoap.

Rubber phone case

This UV light company claims its product kills As far as we know, it hasn't been tested in relation to this strain of coronavirus. Fingerprint smudges are hard to prevent because your skin constantly produces oils. That means that every time you pick up your phone, it's bound to get fingerprints all over it. The safest and most effective way to clean your screen is with a microfiber cloth. If the screen is in desperate need of cleaning, use distilled water to dampen the microfiber cloth and then wipe down your screen -- avoid squirting the water directly on the screen.

This method can be used on the back and sides of your phone, too. You can also try a microfiber screen cleaner sticker, which you stick to the back of your phone and can pop off when you need to give it a wipe-down.

How often should i clean my phone?

Check out Samsung's tips on cleaning your phone, too. Lint and sand can get stuck in the small ports of your phone and in the crevices where the screen meets the body. The best way to remove sand and lint is Scotch tape. You can lay it along the creases and speaker, and roll it up and gently place it in the ports. The tape's stickiness will pull out any lint or sand that may be stuck in your phone. For the smaller speaker holes that tape can't reach, use a toothpick gently or try to vacuum the debris out with a small crevice tool.

These tools can also be used for other small appliances or hard-to-reach areas in your car.

When you have a full face of makeup and need to make a call, guess what that foundation is about to stick to? That's right, your phone screen. And while you may use makeup remover to take off your makeup every night, you shouldn't use it as a screen cleaner due to some chemicals that could be lurking in the ingredients. Instead, you could get your phone its own makeup remover, such as Whoosh. The company claims its product is safe for all screens and contains no alcohol, chlorine, ammonia or phosphates that could damage the various screen coatings. You can also use a damp microfiber cloth to clean the phone -- and then throw that cloth in the wash.

Make sure to use a spray bottle to spritz the cloth, rather than running it under water. The less water, the better. If you have a water-resistant phone, rated for IP67 and aboveyou can rinse it with water. Although these phones, like the new iPhone 13 and the Galaxy S phones, can withstand submersion for up to 30 minutes in up to 3 feet of water, it's a much better idea to use a damp or wet cloth to clean your phone. Then dry your phone with a dry, soft cloth to remove the water.

Make sure to pat dry all speakers and ports. Dunking the phone in water or running it under a faucet will get water into the ports, which means you won't be able to charge it until they're dry, and that can take time. Remember that having a water-resistant phone is more about peace of mind in case of accidents than it is about purposely taking your phone for a swim.

How to clean and disinfect your phone:

We're here to warn you, not shame you, but drop that bottle of Windex, stat. Here are a few products you should never use to clean your phone. Since some hand sanitizers have ingredients like fragrances and ethyl alcohol, it's best to keep sanitizer off your phone's screen. However, if you've touched anything outside your home, you should sanitize your hands before touching your phone to prevent viruses and bacteria from spreading.

For bestuse a manufacturer's hand sanitizer rather than making your own at home they're not as effective. You clean your mirrors and windows with window cleaner, and they're squeaky-clean, so window cleaner must be OK to use on your phone?

Using harsh cleaners can strip the coating and could leave your phone more vulnerable to scratches. James LeBeau, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at MIT, told us that any cleanser with an abrasive agent will likely scratch the surface, so those should be avoided entirely.

A screen's scratch-resistant properties won't get ground down by cleaning agents, but stripping that protective coating is still a problem.

That's why Apple also suggests not using household cleaning products to clean your iPhoneincluding bleach. Bar Keepers Friend, for example, states that its abrasive formula may harm the protective layer. Bon Ami states not to use on glass with coatings.

They may be the go-to for cleaning your desk, but keep them away from your phone. The paper can shred, making the debris on your phone much worse. Paper towels can even end up leaving scratches on your screen.

Since many newer phones have a protective coating, rubbing alcohol can wear it away more quickly over time, causing your phone to be more prone to scratches. Make sure to check for alcohol in the product ingredients on any "safe to use" phone screen cleaners. Apple says to avoid alcohol when cleaning its devices. Some makeup removers may have chemicals that can be harsh to an electronic screen.

Cleaning the case

LeBeau suggests avoiding makeup remover and instead, using a soft cloth with a little bit of water. Your phone is delicate, so blowing an intense amount of air into its portals can cause damage, especially to your mic. Tech companies, like Apple, specifically warn not to use compressed air.

While your dish and hand soaps may be gentle, the only way to use them is to combine them with water. Most phone companies suggest keeping water away from your phone, so again, stick to a damp cloth. This is a no-no.

Vinegar will strip the screen's coating. You could, as Lifehacker suggestsuse very diluted vinegar to cleanse other parts of your phone. If you're thinking about getting a new phone, check out Apple's iPhone 13 lineup and the latest Galaxy Z-fold phones.

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Katie Teague. Make sure you're cleaning your phone the right way.

That earwax gunk is gross You can speed up your browsing on your iPhone by clearing the cache. Here's how to do it iPhone slowing down? How to speed it up by clearing 'Other' storage. PhoneSoap 3. See at Amazon. Now playing: Watch this: How to clean your phone and things to never do. Micro vacuum attachment. See at Whoosh.