How should you clean your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch screen? Should you stick with a dry cleaning cloth or is it okay to use a cleaning solution? If so, what kind of solution is safest? From everyday usability, to applying screen protectors and stickers, to reducing the risk of scratches, keeping your iOS screen clean is something we get asked about a lot. And while it's not a DIY repair, it's every bit as important to know.
First off, if you own an iPhone 3GS or any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that came out after it, you're device has an oleophobic coating. This coating works to help prevent fingerprints and also makes it a lot easier to wipe them off using nothing but a dry cloth and in some instances, even a pant leg or inside of your shirt. Older devices don't have this coating and you may find you'll need to use a bit of water or cleaning spray in order to remove some substances and fingerprints.
If your device has an olephobic coating we don't recommend using any type of liquid cleaner on it as it can actually degrade the coating even quicker. Using a dry microfiber cloth or non-abrasive material will work just fine and should remove most of the oils from your fingers.
If you've gotten food or a sticky substance on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that is resistant to just a dry cloth you can use a bit of water to get it off. Don't apply water directly to your device but moisten the corner of a microfiber cloth and use that. You should make sure you wring out the cloth completely so it is only damp. Also take care not to get any type of moisture in headphone jacks, dock connectors, speakers, or underneath the Home button. After the substance has come off, use the dry part of the cloth to finish wiping it down.
Oleophobic coatings do tend to wear off over time so if you've had your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch for over a year or so, you may start to notice that the screen isn't as easy to wipe down as it once was. At this point it's probably safe to use a non-abrasive cleaning liquid. Always use something that does not contain ammonia, alcohol, or bleach. In short, you should stay away from household cleaners, window cleaners, and aerosol sprays. Only use cleaners that are meant to be used on electronics.
Again, don't spray liquid directly on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch as you increase the likelihood of getting it inside the device. Spray the liquid onto a cleaning cloth and then continue to wipe down the device being sure to use a dry portion of the cloth afterwards to make sure there is no liquid left over.
Make sure you are checking labels on liquid screen and electronics spray cleaners to make sure they don't have any of the previously mentioned chemicals in them. If you want to stay on the safe side, the iMore accessory store also carries a lot of cleaners that are safe to use on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.