What's the best way to clean an iPhone screen? Without damaging the display, of course.
A vital part of being a true Apple fan is learning to clean your Apple devices like a professional. Apple kit looks beautiful when fresh out of the box and you want it to stay that way. In this feature we look at what tools and cleaners to use to clean a Mac, iPhone or iPad screen, or the display on an Apple Watch.
You've spent a lot of money on your Apple devices, so you want them to look as good as possible (and they are beautiful when clean). Apple likes bright white colours; that can quickly show up any dirt, dust or grime. And who wants to look at an Apple screen only to see finger-smudges and a fine layer of dust?
You need to be careful what to use when cleaning an Apple screen. After all, you don't want to throw bleach and ammonia at your computer and scratch the screen. In this feature we will look at how the professionals clean a Mac and iOS device.
We'll be talking about physical spring cleaning - cleaning up the exterior of your Apple products - but if you want to spring-clean the insides, take a look at How to clean iOS junk files and cache and How to speed up a slow Mac.
How to clean an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch screen: Get the right equipment
First of all, make sure you get the right equipment. It doesn't cost much compared to the cost of a Mac to buy a decent cloth and some cleaning solution that's designed for computer screens. Here's what you need:
- Microfiber cloth. You can use any non-abrasive cloth but buy a microfiber just to be sure.
- Screen cleaner (make sure it is ammonia free) or Isopropyl Alcohol. You can often buy a Screen Cleaner and Microfiber kit, like this ECO Cleaning kit.
- Isopropyl cleaning wipes. These are optional but we hear it's what Apple uses.
Some people also suggest using Isopropyl Alcohol and diluting it with 50 per cent water solution. This will certainly clean your computer, but it's powerful stuff and normally used for removing serious junk (like sticker resin or thermal grease). It's handy stuff to own, but we consider it overkill for screen cleaning.
Just make sure you don't get any of the items below.
How to clean an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch screen: Things to avoid
Stay away from these items:
- Paper towels
- Tissue paper
- Ammonia-based cleaner
We'd also advise you to stay away from any other general-purpose cleaning ingredients. Some people suggest various household items and combinations of vinegar and vodka. It's cheaper and safer to just buy a dedicated bottle of screen cleaner: a bottle lasts a long time.
How to clean an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch screen: Get your method right
You might think it's easy to clean something. But there is a right order to cleaning a screen properly. Follow these instructions when cleaning your Mac or iPhone:
- Power down the device. On a Mac choose Apple > Shut Down. On an iPhone or iPad hold down the Sleep/Wake button and use the "slide to power off switch".
- Use the dry microfiber cloth to wipe the dust from your screen. Wipe in a slow, gentle circular motion. Do not scrub the display.
- Place a small amount of cleanser on the cloth (don't soak the cloth). Wipe the cloth gently around the screen in a circular motion. Keep using small amounts of screen clean at a time and wiping gently until the screen sparkles.
Follow these tips and your Mac or iPhone's display will sparkle and shine like new.
How to clean an Apple Watch
The Apple Watch is different to other Apple devices, in that it is splash- and water-resistant (but not waterproof). As such you can be a bit more freewheeling with your Apple Watch. Apple recommends using a damp cloth with fresh water to clean the Apple Watch.
It's important to remember that different straps respond to various cleaning materials. If you have a leather strap, we'd advise removing it before cleaning the Apple Watch.
Can I clean my Apple Watch under a tap?
Some readers wonder if they can just clean an Apple watch by rinsing it under a tap. The answer is yes, but you should consider wiping it down with a cloth instead. Apple recommends rinsing the Apple Watch under a running tap for 10 to 15 seconds to remove debris clogging up the Digital Crown. Be careful to remove leather straps, and dry the watch afterwards with a non-abrasive, lint-free cleaning cloth.
On the whole, we prefer to wipe down the Apple Watch with a cloth rather than run it under a tap. But the Apple Watch is splash-proof and we have used one under a tap and it carries on working fine.
How to clean an iPad and iPhone screen
Cleaning an iPad and iPhone screen is much the same as the Mac. Both the iPad and iPhone have oleophobic screens designed to resist greasy prints, but we still find touch screen displays show far too many fingerprints. Cleaning an iPhone and iPad screen is one of the most rewarding things you can do
Follow these steps to clean your iPhone and iPad screen:
- Turn off the iPhone or iPad. Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and slide to switch off.
- Dampen a soft, lint-free cloth to gently clean the screen. Remove any oil left by your hand touching the screen.
- Turn the iPhone or iPad back on.
Apple issues this warning "Don't use window cleaners, household cleaners, compressed air, aerosol sprays, solvents, ammonia, abrasives, or cleaners containing hydrogen peroxide to clean."
Cleaning the iPhone and iPad screen reduces (ever so slightly) the oleophobic coating because you are in effect rubbing it off. The surface will diminish over time with use, but using an abrasive material reduces the oleophobic coating much faster.
How to clean your iPad or iPhone case
The iPad and iPhone are now often used with cases, and these often show scuffs and marks over time. How to your case depends on the material it is made of
- Polyurethane/Silicon iPad and iPhone case. First remove the case, then dampen a soft, lint-free cloth and wipe the front and inside of the case to remove any dirt. Don't use any cleaning material
- Leather iPad and iPhone case. The colour of the leather case may change if you clean it (it may also evolve over time). Use a clean cloth with warm water and mild hand soap to gently clean the leather. You can also use a mild leather cleaner and conditioner, but again know that it might change the colour.