In this age of mobile technology, almost everyone carries a phone while they work, eat, play, and even use the bathroom to pass the time. However, this means that phones are exposed to a wide variety of dirt, grime, bacteria, viruses, and other germs throughout the day. To help keep your phone and other mobile devices clean, disinfected, and sanitized, it’s important to use a phone cleaner that won’t damage the sensitive screen, the casing, or the camera.
The best phone cleaners fall into three main categories. Sprays are common disinfectants that work with a soft cloth to keep the phone clean, while wipes are more appropriate for on-the-go cleaning. The third type of phone cleaner is a UV light sterilizer that kills bacteria and disinfects phones with concentrated UV light. All three types are included in the list of top products below so you can start your search for the best phone cleaner for your mobile devices.
- BEST OVERALL: Screen Mom Screen Cleaner Kit
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Lysol Dual Action Disinfecting Wipes
- BEST WIPES: Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
- BEST IN TECH: PhoneSoap Smartphone Sanitizer & Universal Charger
- BEST SET: WHOOSH! Screen Cleaner Kit
- ALSO CONSIDER: EVEO Screen Cleaner Spray
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Phone Cleaners
Having a phone in a pocket or a purse is now more common than carrying a set of keys, so it’s important to keep phones and other mobile devices clean and free of germs, bacteria, and viruses. Before choosing a screen cleaner, consider the product’s purpose, the type of cleaner, and ingredients included for cleaning, disinfecting, or sanitizing. Also check to see if the cleaner comes with a suitable cloth.
One of the first features to look at is the intended purpose of the phone cleaner. For instance, a phone cleaner can be used to clean, disinfect, or sanitize. Depending on the strength of the ingredients, a formula might not be suitable for use on a screen.
- Cleaning refers to the removal of visible dirt, grime, and debris from the screen, casing, and any openings in the phone. This is a simple process that often can be done without the use of a phone cleaner. Still, a basic cleaner can remove dirt and grime more easily and effectively than wiping only.
- Disinfecting is the process of killing bacteria, viruses, and other germs with the use of powerful chemicals proven to destroy these microorganisms. It’s better to clean the phone first and then disinfect to avoid missing microorganisms that might be lurking under stuck-on dirt and grime.
- Sanitizing is a more moderate form of disinfecting. It reduces the number of bacteria and viruses by subjecting the phone to UV light instead of chemicals. Sanitizing isn’t as effective at killing microorganisms as a powerful disinfectant, but sanitizing the phone doesn’t risk damaging the screen or the camera.
Phone cleaners fall into three broad categories, including sprays, wipes, and UV light sterilizers, based on the method of application, available features, and functionality.
- Sprays are the most common type of phone cleaner. They can come in a range of sizes, such as travel-size bottles for the car or work and family-size bottles to keep at home. They might include adjustable spray nozzles to change the amount of phone cleaner or to focus the spray. However, the use of sprays requires an appropriate cleaning cloth to remove excess spray from the phone.
- Wipes are a great option for travel or to take along on the morning commute. They typically come in releasable containers or individual packages, so users can take just one, clean the phone, then dispose of the wipe. This type of phone cleaner is quick, easy, and appropriate for the size of a phone, though wipes can get expensive if more than one person is using a package for regular cleaning and disinfecting.
- UV light sterilizers use ultraviolet radiation to kill viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms living on the phone. These devices are essentially small rectangular boxes that can open and hold a phone in their center. Closing the sterilizer and turning it on activates UV-C light bulbs in the top and bottom of the box.
A UV light sterilizer requires a power source and might come with a cord, operate on a rechargeable battery, or even use a built-in solar panel to charge the device. Deciding whether to use one depends on the need for a portable product vs. a home-based sterilizer.
When using a cleaning solution on a phone, avoid harsh ingredients that can damage screen coatings, resulting in blurred and smudged images. Ingredients such as ammonia or bleach can be too powerful in higher concentrations and can damage anti-glare, waterproof, or fingerprint-resistant coatings, while average cleaning sprays might not be formulated for electronic devices.
Unfortunately, many phone cleaners don’t list the ingredients without digging deep into the safety data sheet, which can be difficult to understand. So, look for products specifically advertised as suitable for cleaning screens and note any common ingredients, if they are provided. If in doubt, avoid cleaners with potentially harsh ingredients, especially if not designed for use on phones.
Choosing an appropriate cleaning cloth is almost as important as finding the right cleaner for cleaning or disinfecting your device. This is because the cloth physically wipes away dirt and grime from the surface of the phone, and the wrong cloth can scratch or otherwise damage the screen. This is especially true if the chosen cloth is too abrasive.
It’s best to avoid all-purpose cloths, rags, and paper towels, since these products are generally made for quick, efficient cleaning on countertops, appliances, and other durable surfaces. Look for a smooth, nonabrasive cleaning cloth, like those made of microfiber or suede.
Some disinfectants even come with their own cloth, eliminating the need to shop for that too. Still, inspect the quality of the included cloth before using it to prevent avoidable damage to a phone.
Our Top Picks
The products below have been selected based on their purpose, type, and ingredients. They also take into account the product value and the overall quality. These products are among the best phone cleaners for keeping your phone and other mobile devices protected from bacteria and viruses.
Screen Mom’s Screen Cleaner Kit includes phone cleaner spray in an 8-ounce bottle. A simple plastic lid prevents the spray nozzle from accidental pressing when carrying the bottle in a pocket, bag, or purse. The spray cleaner is designed for use on sensitive electronic screens, so users won’t have to worry about damaging their devices as long as they follow the directions for use.
The cleaning solution contains mostly water but also a small percentage of plant-based cleaners intended to make it easier to remove dirt and grime from the phone and screen. This is a cleaner, and it does not include ingredients to disinfect the phone surface. It comes with a large microfiber cloth that won’t scratch or damage the phone. This product doubles for use on computer monitors, tablets, and TVs.
This package of Lysol Dual Action cleaning wipes is a great value for the price, with 75 wet wipes packed into a resealable plastic container to ensure that the wipes don’t dry out. The containers are too large to carry in purses or bags, but they’re affordable enough to purchase one to keep one at home and one at the office. Each wipe contains the active ingredient alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, which can kill up to 99.9 percent of viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms, as well as remove more than 95 percent of allergens.
These Lysol wipes have a scrubbing side that can remove stuck-on dirt and grime and a touch-up side that is soft and suitable for most electronic devices. However, the active ingredient might be too harsh for some sensitive screens. Users should always test a new product on a small corner of the screen before cleaning the entire phone.
This three-pack set of Clorox Disinfecting Wipes contains 75 individual wipes per package that are kept safe and moist inside the releasable plastic packaging. Each package is small enough to carry in a backpack or a purse. An ammonia-based active ingredient known as alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride can kill up to 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria.
The disinfecting wipes are specifically noted as effective at killing SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) on hard, nonporous surfaces. However, the cleaning agent might be too powerful for sensitive screens, like those common in Apple products. Users will want to test the phone cleaner on a small corner before using a wipe on the entire screen or use the wipes only on the nonscreen parts of the device.
The PhoneSoap 3 UV light sterilizer is a great choice for regularly sanitizing phones that have sensitive screens because the sterilizer uses ultraviolet light to kill viruses and bacteria instead of harsh chemicals. Just plug in the sterilizer and place the phone inside the case. A disinfection indicator light on the top of the device lets users know when the phone has finished disinfecting.
This phone cleaner also has a built-in USB-A and USB-C port for charging a phone while it’s disinfecting. The interior of the UV light sterilizer has two UV-C light bulbs and a reflective surface to ensure that every part of the phone is exposed to ultraviolet light. This process should kill up to 99.9 percent of germs that are present on the phone for effective sanitizing without potentially harmful chemical disinfectants.
The WHOOSH! phone cleaning kit with solution and cleaning cloth is a great option for both the home and the vehicle or for the office and the home. It comes with a large 3.4-ounce bottle of cleaning spray and a small 0.3-ounce bottle of spray, plus the set includes three microfiber cloths for convenient and scratch-free device cleaning.
This phone cleaner contains a mild bactericide known as 2-phenoxyethanol for sanitizing electrical devices without damaging them. Though this cleaning solution won’t kill as many microorganisms as some products, it can help keep phones free of dirt and grime with less worry about damaging screen surfaces.
The EVEO phone cleaner set comes with a 16-ounce spray bottle of screen cleaning solution and a microfiber cloth that’s suitable for laptops, computer monitors, TVs, and phone screens. The large bottle isn’t the best option for traveling, but with about 1,000 sprays per bottle, this is an excellent option for use at home or at work for cleaning a range of electronic devices.
This phone cleaner spray uses the active ingredient 1,2-benzisothiazol-3(2H)-one to kill bacteria, viruses, and other germs that can accumulate on phones and other devices throughout the day. The mild cleaning solution sanitizes the phone without damaging the screen, and it helps pick up known allergens like dander, dust, and pollen.
FAQs About Phone Cleaners
For more information on choosing and using the best phone cleaner to keep your mobile devices germ-free, check out the answers below to some commonly asked questions about these products.
Q. How often should a phone be disinfected?
A phone should be disinfected regularly and especially after it has been near anyone coughing or sneezing. For most people, disinfecting the phone once or twice per day is more than enough to ensure the phone is clean.
Q. Can a phone cleaner be used to disinfect hands?
It’s not advisable because phone cleaners are not made with human skin in mind. This means that they can have higher concentrations of alcohol or other sanitizing agents, which will dry out the skin and can lead to sores, cracks, and bleeding.
Q. Does a phone cleaner have an expiration date?
Phone cleaner products can expire, though not all products have a listed expiration d