I've read several articles that cleaning an iPhone should only be done by a microfibre cloth to prevent damage to the device. But I can't see how that will actually clean the device and kill things like viruses.

This might sound over the top, but we're all being told to wash our hands frequently and effectively and given how often we touch our phones it seems we should be cleaning them just as often.

Is it safe to use alcohol wipes on an iPhone? Or what is the recommended practice?

  • Understand that the surface of a device, like an iphone, is not especially hospitable to virus. Unlike your hand, it is very dry, and lack of humidity can denature viruses. It is possible to transmit virus via objects, like doorknobs, but the virus do not last long on these items (mins to hours)
    – cmason
    Mar 4, 2020 at 17:00
  • Are you sharing your phone with others? You are better off sanitizing your hands than worrying about your phone.
    – Allan
    Mar 4, 2020 at 23:49
  • @Allan well I'm sharing it with myself if I'm using it before I wash my hands and after
    – Jonathan.
    Mar 5, 2020 at 11:16
  • Then you have nothing to worry about. A virus is spread by coming into contact with others who have the virus. If you’re so worried about your phone somehow carrying the virus, you should be as much, if not more worried about your clothes, your credit cards, and cash. Those at least come into contact with others. A majority of this coronavirus hysteria is media hype. More people have already died from influenza than those only infected by Covid 19.
    – Allan
    Mar 5, 2020 at 11:24
  • @Allan that does really make sense else there’s no point washing your hands. As I understand it you touch the virus you don’t immediately get it, you have to touch your face to get it. So the idea of washing your hands is that if you do get it on your hands you wash your hands before touching your face. But if you touch your phone after washing your hands then you’ll just come back into contact with it. Effectively the phone is just a third hand.
    – Jonathan.
    Mar 6, 2020 at 14:04

4 Answers 4


I use non-alcohol wipes made by Seventh Generation to clean my family's iDevices, computer keyboards, laptop and desktop screens, kitchen counters, etc. It uses thymol, an extract of thyme for its germ-fighting goodness. The label indicates it kills Influenza A virus, H1N1, Rhinovirus type 37, MRSA, Staph. aureus, Salmonella enterica and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.



It may be tempting to wipe down your phone's screen with some rubbing alcohol or a disinfectant wipe. But in doing so, you risk damaging your device's screen.

"These phones have a coating on them to prevent oil or grease from your hand from sticking on the phone," Jason Siciliano, vice president and global creative director of smartphone protection service SquareTrade, told Business Insider. "Using alcohol or or those types of everyday solutions directly on a phone, on its glass, can harm it."

So what can you do to protect yourself when using your electronic device?

If you're looking for an alternative method of killing germs, you can try looking into a UV phone sanitizer like Phone Soap, which uses UV-C light to break down germs and bacteria. It's a relatively small box that almost resembles a tanning bed for your phone that blasts it with UV-C light to disinfect it.

Although you shouldn't use cleaning products on your mobile device, you may be able to do so on its case, depending on the materials it's made from. enter image description here

  • The problem with that article is that the germs on the phone are your germs. It’s not like you have the equivalent of a public urinal in your pocket. This is media hype to generate clicks.
    – Allan
    Mar 5, 2020 at 11:27
  • @Allan Personally, I don't see the need to do anything special to keep my devices clean. I agree this is mostly click-bait but the OP did ask the question so this provides the requested answer.
    – fsb
    Mar 5, 2020 at 13:46
  • I’m saying the article is faulty
    – Allan
    Mar 5, 2020 at 14:15
  • From my understanding of the article's data, it's citing an older study of how germs from our hands and the things we touch end-up on other things we touch, like mobile devices. That appears logical to me. Whether or not cleaning it often will prevent coronavirus is a different topic altogether.
    – fsb
    Mar 5, 2020 at 14:59

The simplest answer, I suppose, would be to buy a case for your iPhone, or at least one of those protective screen-shields, and then clean that. That way you can disinfect the phone without damaging the screen, and if you happen to damage the case or shield... It you can replace.

  • My family all use cases on our iPhones, with stick-on glass protectors, and I still clean them on a weekly basis. (See my post about Seventh Generation wipes in this thread.) I have an iPad with an integral screen protector case from OtterBox, and despite the design, cruft does get inside the case sometimes.
    – IconDaemon
    Mar 4, 2020 at 17:30
  • @IconDaemon: yes. My only point was that if you cover the iPhone screen with a glass protector, you can feel free to use harsher antibiotics without damaging the phone itself. the Seventh Generation solution is also good, I'm just not sure it it's as effective. Mar 4, 2020 at 17:38

Apple has recently published an update to their support document, How to clean your Apple products. The linked, Cleaning your iPhone support page states:

Is it OK to use a disinfectant on my iPhone?

Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the exterior surfaces of your iPhone. Don't use bleach. Avoid getting moisture in any openings, and don't submerge your iPhone in any cleaning agents.

The MacRumors document titled, Amid Coronavirus Outbreak, Apple Confirms That It's Okay to Clean Your iPhone With Disinfectant which noticed the update to the Apple Support document further states:

Prior to now, Apple's cleaning guidelines have recommended against all cleaners, warning that the chemicals have the potential to damage the oleophobic coating on iPhone and iPad displays. Apple still warns against aerosol sprays, ammonia, window cleaners, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, compressed air, and abrasives.


Apple's updated guidelines come as the coronavirus continues to spread around the world. Given that most people use their iPhones and other devices constantly, it's important to be able to disinfect them to cut down on virus spread through surfaces.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .