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How to clean your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

Do not clean any iPhone with an abrasive product like this. We're begging you.

You've spent a lot of money on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, and you don't take enough care of them. Here's how to clean them — and, crucially, what you must not ever do.

There's a reason all of the equipment in Apple Stores always looks so good — it's typically cleaned around twice a day. You're never going to have the time or the staff to do that and, to be fair, you're unlikely to have hundreds of customers trying out your new iPhone 11 Pro.

Still, you are human, and that means both that your fingers are naturally oily and that whatever iPhone, iPad or iPod touch you've got, you're going to have other things on your mind than keeping it pristine.

You do want it to stay looking good, however, so knowing how to clean it when necessary is important. It also varies between devices — and between different models. The latest iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, for instance, have what Apple calls an "advanced textured matte finish" which needs careful handling.

Cleaning iPhones

Switch off the iPhone as soon as you notice anything like a stain, smear or apparent scratch on its casing. Also switch it off when you can't see anything obvious, but the phone has been in sand or dirt, or it's been near detergent, makeup products, or foods.

There is one difference with the latest iPhones which may give you some hope if you see what appears to be a scratch on the casing.

"On iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max," says Apple in a support document, "... [with] normal use, the textured glass may show signs of material transfer from objects that come in contact with your iPhone, such as denim or items in your pocket. Material transfer may resemble a scratch, but can be removed in most cases."

The words "most cases" seems a bit optimistic, but you have to give cleaning a go.

Here's how to clean that iPhone

  • Power down the iPhone
  • Wipe with a lint-free cloth
  • If that doesn't work, dampen the cloth with soapy water
  • But don't get liquids or moisture into openings
  • Never use compressed air or cleaning products

From the original iPhone through to the iPhone 5, Apple also specifies that you shouldn't use compressed air, aerosol sprays, solvents, ammonia, or hydrogen peroxide.

It doesn't say that with the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 11 Pro Max, but pretend it does. These types of cleaning products are strong, and your iPhone is delicate.

With these latest iPhones, Apple also notes they have "fingerprint-resistant oleophobic— oil repellent— coating." Using a cleaning product will wear away that coating and that could be what gives you phone a scratch.

Here's how to clean an iPad

Apple uses a similar oleophobic coating on the iPad, but this time for the screen. To clean that, bring out your stock of lint-free cloths and wipe.

  • Switch off the iPad
  • Unplug all cables
  • Wipe with soft, slightly damp lint-free cloth

Again, don't use any household or window cleaning products, aerosol sprays, solvents or really just about anything at all other than that lint-free cloth. It's a good thing someone invented those.

In normal use, the only issue with your iPad screen is going to be the oil from your fingers, but that's enough to look messy. But even wiping to clean that is also going to diminish the coating eventually, so consider putting up with a messy screen.

It's not as if you're going to notice the fingermarks when the screen is on and you're using the iPad, too.

Or you can take Apple's advice and buy a case.

Cleaning the iPod touch

In terms of cleaning, the iPod touch is a hybrid between the iPhone and the iPad. It's as delicate as either, and is as dependent on lint-free cloths as anything Apple ever makes.

It does not, though, use an oleophobic coating that you need to be careful of. To clean an iPod touch:

  • Switch it off
  • Unplug the Lightning cable
  • Unplug any headphones
  • Wipe over with soft and slightly damp lint-free cloth

Don't use any abrasive cleaning products. Really don't use anything but the lint-free cloth.

Just in case

Every Apple product is designed to take hard knocks, except the one in your pocket. Every iPhone is built to withstand the most amazing drops onto concrete, unless it's your iPhone and your concrete.

As good as an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch feels in your hand, it is an expensive device and you can both protect it and keep it clean by putting it in a case.

In 2021, Apple introduced its own Apple polishing cloth. While roundly mocked for its $19 price tag, it immediately sold out — and is good for cleaning screens.

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