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I have a waterproof Android smartphone that has rubberized edges.

I recently picked up the phone after using hand sanitizer at a medical facility. Now the rubberized sections of the edges are very tacky. They feel sticky.

I tried taking a wet 100% cotton towel and wiping the phone's edges real good. Doing this perhaps helped just a little, but not much.

What can I do to make the phone's edges feel like they did before this happened?

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  • Those rubberised coatings fail eventually anyway - first symptom is 'stickiness'. Usually, it's too thin to abrade below the sticky layer & next thing is you have to just clean it all off. Been an issue on many similar surfaces for many years, computer mice often have similar coatings.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 27, 2021 at 19:12
  • @Tetsujin I think it depends on the coating. I have tools with rubberized coatings that show no signs of degradation after years of hard use in rather severe conditions. Of coarse, I also have some coatings that have failed during shipment to me without ever being taken out of the shipping box. Dec 28, 2021 at 7:03
  • Sure. I was thinking mobile phone casing would be more like a mouse & less like a power drill ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 28, 2021 at 8:38

3 Answers 3

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You can try wiping with plain (medical) ethyl or isopropyl alcohol to remove the gooey additives in hand sanitizer, if that is what is making the phone feel sticky.

However, there's a chance that the hand sanitizer partially dissolved the rubbery coating, so alcohol could make it worse, or remove the coating completely, so test in a small spot before wiping down the whole case!

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  • Thanks Dr. Moishe. Is there something that might remove the gooey feeling without possibly making it worse? Dec 23, 2021 at 6:46
  • Try wiping with said medical 70% alcohol (tissue-like) wipe. I used them almost everyday when I just came back from outside to wipe my smartphone glass-front and rubber-casing back. For me, it removes the sticky-feeling from the rubber too. Note that this is in the context of a smartphone casing's rubber.
    – aff
    Dec 29, 2021 at 5:05
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If there is contamination left on the rubber, you could use a dish liquid solution on a warm damp dish cloth. Use care and try it along a bottom edge to see if it cleans without extra damage.

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Water + baking soda

The rubber might be permanently damaged but you can salvage it with water and baking soda.

I had a similar problem with my mouse. I used baking soda dissolved in water to wipe it clean. It removed the stickiness but the rubber still did not feel the same as before, and it became sticky again after a couple weeks of use. So you probably have to repeat the process regularly until you replace the device.

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