Ask LH: How Can I Keep Takeaway Grease Off My Smartphone Screen?

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

Dear Smudgey,

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.

See also: How To Properly Clean All Your Gadgets | Make Your Old Phone Feel Like New This Weekend | Top 10 DIY Smartphone Repairs And Upgrades

Cheers Lifehacker

Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact form.


    Or, I dunno. Not use your phone while you're eating?

    I'm sure you can go 5 minutes without using your phone.

    Last edited 05/06/14 1:36 pm

      My thoughts exactly. I never get takeaway grease on my phone. Here are two tips:
      1. Don't buy takeaway food so often that this actually becomes a problem that you ask Lifehacker about (it's terrible for you, the environment, your family, basically the only thing it's good for is the Colonel's wallet)
      2. Put your phone away.

      But... but focusing on eating food/the company of good friends is so boooohooohooohooorring!
      Five minutes without phone is an eternity! It's almost as bad as going to the loo without out!

      Food isnt gonna take a picture of itself!

    Is this a troll question? Someone's actually so attached to their phone they can't put it down for a few mins to finish a meal?

    I think its been summed up pretty well in the comments so far.

    My addition would be that if you are so desperate to use your phone, then wash your damn hands first?

    Get some moist towelettes when you get takeaway? and use them first?

    Ahh, asker... I see you use your smartphone without a case/screen protector.
    I, too, like to live dangerously.

    At any rate, just do what everyone else does - buff your phone on your shirt and look disappointed that all you've managed to do is give the grease an interesting new pattern or texture. Then shrug and tap away anyway. Later that night when the grease is getting in the way of really enjoying your porn, spare a few extra tissues for the screen.

    (Edit: Also, ignore these luddites who don't know the trauma induced by being separated from the hivemind. They do not know the bliss of the Belonging.)

    Last edited 05/06/14 3:03 pm

    *LICKING* the screen?!?!
    You know how many people use their phone in the toilet??? like.. ALL OF THEM!


    Use a freakin' stylus if you're that desperate to Instagram your Kentucky chuck.

    They're $10.00 at officeworks

      What's a Kentucky chuck. I live in Kentucky and I feel out of the loop since I've never heard of that

        Kentucky Chuck = Kentucky Fried Chicken / KFC

        the 'chuck' is a twist on the word 'chick' here and also summaries the quality of the chicken quite nicely as well...

    In defence of OP, I was very curious as to an answer too. But for slightly different reasons.
    I'm a greaseball - my skin is rediculously oily, and that goes even moreso for my fingertips. (somewhere along the line I have Greek heritage. I blame that :S)
    So no matter whether I'm eating, or how often I wash my hands, I'll smudge up any touchscreen.
    I'm not so worried about my own devices. I use screen protectors on everything, and wipe them on my clothes (or if I can find a glasses cleaner handy, that's even better).
    It's more embarrasing when someone wants me to go through photos on their phone/tablet. I try to clean the screen with my sleeve as best I can before handing back, but looks like there isn't a good solution. (And I'm not into licking other peoples screens :) )

      This is what brought me here as well. I was hoping someone would get past the food jokes and actually have something useful to say but I underestimated the fact that a holes with nothing to say usually fill up the comments on the Internet. It's like thousands of people wake up everyday and think how can I get on the Internet and say nothing useful while being the biggest dick I can. Job well done guys.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now