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Why Facebook and other apps sometimes say "Cleaning..."

With iOS 5 it's not uncommon to sometimes see the label under many apps, including Facebook, sometimes change to read "Cleaning..." This is a feature of iOS 5 that Apple hasn't really explained, so it's caused a lot of you to write in an ask about it. Here's the deal...

Basically, that's iOS 5 deleting cache and temporary files so that when iCloud or iTunes does a backup of your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, that backup is smaller and faster.

Since adding iCloud and Wi-Fi sync options, it's become important to keep app data as clean as possible, so backups are as efficient as possible, so we're not left waiting around for minutes or hours getting as frustrated as possible.

And yes, this is the same reason that, under the original iOS 5.0, apps like Instapaper would sometimes lose all your locally cached articles. (Since fixed with the addition of a third storage option between documents and cache, one that's not cleaned but also not backed up.)

So, if you see "Cleaning..." pop up under Facebook or any of your other apps, don't worry. That's just iOS 5 keeping your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad as lean and mean as possible.

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

26 Comments
  • I thought some people think of "Cleaning..." meant women have to go back to the kitchen...
  • Epic. 9GAG bro?
  • What triggers it? I also have not seen that yet.
  • Make sure you dnwoload the libusb.exe file. The link in the tutorial didn't work for me. I just googled libusbwin32. I can't remember the link I used, sorry.
  • Agreed, I haven't seen this yet either. Hmm.
  • Mine is cleaning now! How long will it take?
  • I have come across this a few time typically happens when you are out of space or running out.
  • Does anyone know I can view my news feed in chronological order? The sort button is there anymore with facebooks newest update.
    Thanks
  • Is there a way to force this? My facebook and twitter apps get to be over a gb and I have to delete and I have to delete and reinstall in order to get them back to their regular size.
  • It's actually not to keep backups small but to free up space on the iPhone when it starts to run low. Files being cleaned up are in the temporary and cache directories, which have never been included in backups.
  • Then mine is broken, I've never ever seen it cleaning, sounds like my DH LOL
  • It's not so expensive and hard to create apps since there are web services like snappii.com They do their utmost to help customers without programming skills make complex apps for business.
  • Can any one tell me how long the cleaning will take as it been below my Facebook app for nearly 1..1/2 now thanks
  • Music Will Change... Foreverwww.musicwillchangeforever.com
  • I prauhcsed the full version, and now am wondering if there will be any Greek and Hebrew studies, or commentaries included anywhere in here soon?I'm having a rough time about me having paid 50.00 for a bunch of pics.
  • It's happening to my Twitter app right now... How long will it take!!!...
  • Mine is cleaning! How long will it take?
  • Mobile apps are hot today. But hiring a programmer is too expensive. I used snappii.com to make apps. It's really easy, the web service allows to make mobile apps in minutes, and without programming skills at all.
  • My Facebook just got "cleaned" it only took about two minuets tops (:.
  • Yes. this cleaning deleted all my books downloaded by Zinio. BS.
  • My pinterest app has been cleaning for 8 hours.
  • I just like the valuable info you supply for your articles. I'll bookmark your weblog and test again right here regularly. I'm slightly sure I will be told many new stuff proper here! Good luck for the next!
  • Never saw this until just a couple minutes ago. Thought I had a virus... Thanks for the explain.
    -R
  • I just noticed that my pinterest app is "cleaning," will this delete all the pins I've posted?
  • wy cant my aps load face book games
  • How can I play my app if it says cleaning? I want to play my app but I can't because the thing says cleaning all the time it's been like this for 2 months