I would first like to clarify that I believe my question is not a dupe of: How can I remove skin oil from my phone's screen? as I am specifically asking about a sensible solution to help prevent breakouts.

I have read that you should wipe down your phone twice a day using anti-bac wipes if you are suffering from breakouts on your cheeks.

However, I don't like the idea of being that wasteful as these wipes are not usually bio-degradable. Using a homemade solution on a cloth is also not a viable option as I need to keep it at my desk at work.

I know you can buy bio-degradable anti-bac wipes but they are not often made for use on a phone so are much too large - which again seems wasteful.

Does anyone have any ingenious, cost and environmental efficient, solutions?

  • @ZeissIkon Transferring bacteria from my hands onto my face, for example?
    – Gamora
    Dec 10, 2019 at 14:36
  • @ZeissIkon I can assure you I have a healthy immune and clean my face properly, I'm not talking about the normal bacteria that lives on my skin, but rather the harmful bacteria which is picked up on my finger tips when I go about my day-to-day life
    – Gamora
    Dec 10, 2019 at 14:45
  • @ZeissIkon So you're trying to tell me that anyone who gets any breakouts has something wrong with their immune system?
    – Gamora
    Dec 10, 2019 at 14:51
  • OK so maybe my wording is wrong, but the general idea is that your pores get clogged by residue from your phone screen
    – Gamora
    Dec 10, 2019 at 14:55
  • What evidence do you have that your skin problem is from your skin oil specifically? Have you consulted a professional dermatologist? You could have a simple hormone imbalance, or contact dermatitis from the plastic screen protector. Do you wash your hands after your day-to-day activities?
    – Stan
    Dec 11, 2019 at 15:33

3 Answers 3


You need

  • a disinfectant (rubbing alcohol will do, or some other sanitizing liquid),
  • a way to apply it and
  • a way to remove it again.

Either use a spray bottle (reusable, use what you have around) to spray the screen, then wipe it off with a piece of cloth (lint-free, washable) or tissue paper (although less sustainable, but at least biodegradable), or moisten the cloth with the liquid and wipe the screen.

Cost: minimal.

A bottle of rubbing alcohol is cheap (a dedicated sanitizer may or may not be more expensive, but you don’t need a “kill-even-the-worst-germs-and-fungi” substance to wipe down a hard and smooth surface like a phone screen anyway) and you probably have a washable cleaning cloth around - in a pinch, recycle some soft cotton clothing, like a t-shirt, or grab a dishcloth.

  • Would reusing the same piece of cloth present an issue though? At some point that would surely no longer be cleaning the screen. How often does it need to be washed? Whats the best way to wash a cloth like that to reduce bacteria build up?
    – Gamora
    Dec 10, 2019 at 14:21
  • This will depend on the size of the cloth and a few other things. But throwing it in the wash with your regular laundry will take care of the “dirt”. Personally, I’d probably change it daily, or after every use for small tissue-like pieces.
    – Stephie
    Dec 10, 2019 at 14:23
  • I'll see if anything else comes in and if not will accept this answer. I was hoping for something a little bit closer to a hack but at the end of the day, this is the best advice
    – Gamora
    Dec 10, 2019 at 15:31

In the spirit of an XY Problem , let me offer an alternative solution:

You want to prevent breakouts caused by bacteria on the phone being transferred to your skin 1. The answer: Don’t let the phone touch your skin.

Instead of holding the device up to your ear, use a headset (or the loudspeaker, if privacy isn’t an issue) for your phone conversations. Bonus: you may even free your hand, if you are sitting at your desk.

Cost: Maybe a headset was part of your phone package, otherwise it’s an initial investment without recurring costs.

And of course don’t prop up your head in your hand during the call and in general don’t touch your skin with your hands unless necessary.

1 And I am not arguing with the premise - you don’t want to transfer anything, independent of the question whether it may or may not trigger breakouts. That’s enough for me.

  • This just transfers the problem to "how do I get rid of bacteria on my phone headset?" Which is probably a worse problem, since most don't clean their ears as often as they wash their faces...
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Dec 10, 2019 at 14:36
  • 2
    @ZeissIkon How does it do that? The idea of this answer is that you won't be touching your face if you use a phone headset. Plus you don't touch your headset with your hands t
    – Gamora
    Dec 10, 2019 at 14:49
  • Thanks Stephie, I'm not keen on using headsets, but it's worth bearing in mind if I ever find one I like
    – Gamora
    Dec 10, 2019 at 15:35
  • 2
    @Bee I had a similar idea, same principle: use speaker phone, possibly with the volume turned down. This way, the phone never needs to touch your face.
    – Lawrence
    Dec 11, 2019 at 12:42
  • But you will still touch your face before and after touching your phone (screen as well as case.)
    – Willeke
    Aug 23, 2020 at 9:42

Idk if this has been mentioned yet but I always save those little square alcohol wipes that come prepackaged. The ones you see at doctor's offices and hospitals to wipe a person's finger before collecting a blood sample. They're often included in screen protector kits. You could buy an entire box and use them as needed or when other options aren't as easily available. I put regular isopropyl alcohol in one of my mini travel perfume bottles to carry with me. It easily fits in a purse or pants pocket. Spray your phone screen and wipe it with a clean piece of paper towel or a clean bit of cloth.

  • I specified environmentally friendly so the wipes aren't a viable solution, the other part of this answer has already been mentioned and accepted. Thank you for your input though
    – Gamora
    Sep 1, 2020 at 8:46

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