Dear LH, When using my smartphone, my fingers leave smudges on the screen. I’m not sure whether it’s just skin oil or the KFC I’m eating. I know I can clean it on my shirt (the screen that is, not my fingers!); but does anyone have any useful tips on how to keep a smudge-free screen? I’m aware this is a first world problem.Yours faithfully, Smudgey
Takeaway phone picture from Shutterstock
You’ve come to the right place, my friend. As Lifehacker’s official takeaway adjudicator I’m regularly up to my armpits in all manner of greasy foodstuffs. This obviously isn’t a good look on a smartphone and it can also compromise security — a US study found that greasy fingers leave tell-tale marks on touch screens which make them easier for thieves to unlock.
So what to do? According to this old Lifehacker post, cleaning the screen with your tongue works wonders. You also get to savour the finger-lickin’ taste of leftover chicken grease. Win-win! The downside is that you’ll almost certainly be ostracised by society and could end up contracting salmonella. The payoff of a cleaner screen probably isn’t worth it.
A more socially acceptable solution is to invest in a screen protector. These tend to be more grease-resistant than smartphone glass and can also be swapped over to keep your screen looking fresh ‘n’ shiny. There are countless screen protector products on the market to fit almost every phone imaginable, but if you want to keep costs down, it’s not too difficult to make your own.
To craft a DIY screen protector, you’ll need vinyl covering (the thinnest kind possible), sharp scissors or a craft knife, a pen and a ruler. Simply measure and cut the vinyl covering to the size of your screen, with the appropriate shapes cut out for the buttons and camera lens. Once that’s done, apply the vinyl to your device while using your ruler to push out any air bubbles. For an even cheaper solution you can try using clear packing tape.
Another advantage of screen protectors is that they help to protect your screen against scratches (hence the name). This extra barrier also means you can use tougher cleaning agents such as alcohol or ammonia when wiping down touch screen — handy if you’re paranoid about grease and grime.
Before you add a protective film though, you’ll need to thoroughly clean your device’s screen. You can pick up some general tips here. Good luck!
If anyone has any better solutions, let Smudgey know in the comments section below.
Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact form.