If you’re like most people, your cell phone is practically an appendage. According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center, 95 percent of Americans own a cell phone, 77 percent of whom own smartphones. What’s more, smartphone users spend nearly three hours a day using apps, browsing the internet, and keeping in touch with friends and family.
However, despite the ubiquity of these devices, countless individuals don’t exactly know how to keep them in tip-top shape. Perhaps that’s why, according to figures from the Consumer Technology Association, smartphones have a relatively short 4.7-year average lifespan. Consider that smartphones can easily cost $700 or $800—or, in the case of the iPhone X, a whopping $999—and the fact that simple repairs, like screen replacements, can run tabs of more than $150, and you’ll realize that owning a cell phone in the modern era can get expensive, fast.
So, before you ruin another wallet-busting electronic device, learn about all the ways you’re kneecapping your phone’s health, often without even realizing it. Correct course on this behavior, and you’ll never need to visit a cell phone repair shop again. And who knows—you might even be able to wait entire years longer before plopping down serious cash on another digital appendage.
If you think that wiping down your phone with a little water on a paper towel will get it clean, think again. Not only do many standard methods of cleaning leave you potentially risking water damage if your cleaning materials get into your speaker or headphone jack, they’re also keeping your phone crawling with germs. In fact, according to a study published in the journal Germs, the average high schooler’s phone studied had 17,032 bacterial gene copies on it, including the potentially-deadly Staphylococcus aureus. (That’s the thing that gives you Staph infections.
So, how should you clean it? Dampen—don’t saturate—a cotton pad or clean cloth with a bit of rubbing alcohol and use a pointed cotton swab to clean out headphone jacks and speaker components.