Our phones are constantly in our hands, exposed to germs and dust. Cleaning them regularly isn’t just hygienic; it also extends their lifespan and helps them run smoothly for longer.

Some tips affect battery lifespan directly by reducing the stress of charge cycles, such as turning down screen brightness. Others are indirect, such as avoiding extremes of heat and cold.

1. Remove unnecessary apps

Most new phones have a lot of internal storage taken up by pre-installed apps, also known as bloatware. Bloatware can be easily removed, freeing up storage and improving performance. Once you’ve cleaned up unused apps, make sure the ones you want to keep are running smoothly and efficiently. Look at how much memory each uses, and check whether they’re using data in the background or causing other issues (for example, Facebook Messenger). If you find you’re constantly running out of space, it’s time to delete some apps.

While it’s tempting to close apps that are running in the background, doing so doesn’t actually improve battery life. Both iOS and Android have algorithms that automatically manage how much power or memory background apps use, and forcing apps to shut down disrupts this process. Instead, try installing a ‘light’ version of an app that will run less in the background and use less data.

You’ll want to regularly clear junk files from your phone, as this can improve performance and extend its lifespan. This can be done through the device’s settings or through a dedicated app. You should also ensure your phone and apps are up to date. Newer versions of apps introduce new features, increase power efficiency and fix bugs that could harm your smartphone.

Many people don’t turn their smartphones off at night, but this can damage the battery and shorten its lifespan. Instead, aim to charge your phone to between 20 and 80% before turning it off. This reduces stress and heat on the battery while still allowing you to make calls, send texts, etc. It’s also worth avoiding leaving your phone charging overnight, as this can cause the battery to degrade faster than it should.

2. Clean the screen

Whether it’s dirt, dust, or smudges from your hands or other devices you touch, cleaning your phone’s screen regularly is crucial. It’s also a good idea to wipe the entire phone itself and the case, which can harbor bacteria. Keep a microfiber cloth and cleaning solution handy. You can find them pre-moistened and packaged in convenient packets that are easy to store in your purse, nightstand or car.

The best part is that this method of cleaning is safe for your smartphone’s screen and other components. It’s a quick and inexpensive way to extend the life of your device.

Before you use the microfiber cloth to clean your phone, make sure it’s unplugged and turned off. Then, gently move the cloth in a horizontal or vertical direction over the screen repeatedly until it’s completely free of smudges and dirt. You can also purchase specially designed cleaning wipes for phones that have a high alcohol content, which disinfect your device and kill germs.

For tough dirt or sticky spots, dampen a corner of the microfiber cloth with a little water (no soap or other chemicals). Then, rub the surface of your screen until it’s completely clean and dry.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re updating your device when prompted. That will help with security and bug fixes, which can extend your phone’s lifespan.

3. Remove dust from the USB port

Even if you’re careful to keep your phone away from dust and lint, your USB port will get gunked up by small particles over time. A little bit of this stuff can make it difficult for the connector to fit in the port, causing it to stop working properly or even break. It’s best to clean your port regularly to prevent this problem. Otherwise, this might cause you a trip to repairxpress northpoint for a phone repair.

The easiest way to do this is by using a can of compressed air. Spray a few short bursts of air into the port to loosen up any large pieces of dust or dirt. Be careful not to get water into the port, which can damage the internal components.

Another way to do this is by soaking a cotton swab in isopropyl alcohol solution. Wet the swab and then insert it into the port, making sure to reach inside all the corners and around the contacts. The alcohol will dissolve any sticky messes and clean out the remaining bits of dust. When you’re done, let the swab dry completely.

You can also use a plastic dental floss or a microfiber cleaning brush to get into the harder-to-reach parts of your port, but be very careful not to apply too much pressure. Too much pressure can break or bend the internal connectors, which will cause your port to stop working altogether. You can also buy a set of removable USB-C dust plugs to cover the port when not in use, which will help prevent it from getting dirty in the first place. Using these tips will keep your charging port in top condition, which will prolong the life of your device.

4. Clean the frame

A dirty phone can cause lag and bugs, making it less usable. Regular maintenance can keep your phone running smoothly, improving the user experience and extending its lifespan.

Over time the frame, camera, and screen of your phone will collect dust, lint, and fingerprints. This can leave a sticky residue, scratch the screen, and make it harder for your camera to focus. Cleansing the frame can prevent this.

Start by turning off your phone and removing the battery and case if you have one. Clean the outside of your phone using a lint-free microfiber cloth slightly dampened with water. Don’t use too much liquid to avoid damaging your phone or causing it to get wet. Wipe the screen in single strokes from the earpiece down to the microphone. Be careful not to spread the dirt into the earpiece crack, which can damage the internal microphone.

When you are finished, dry the frame with a separate lint-free microfiber cloth. Then, for wood frames you can dampen a cloth with rubbing alcohol or furniture polish (don’t add too much or it might damage the finish). A cotton swab can be used to clean hard-to-reach areas like the camera lens and flash. Be sure to dry the cotton swab quickly so that water doesn’t seep into the inside of the camera and ruin the flash and lens.

Some smartphone manufacturers glue their covers tightly and require proprietary tools to access the batteries. This makes it difficult to replace the battery and can shorten its lifespan. If you want to extend the life of your phone, buy a device with easy-to-replace batteries. Also, consider waiting a year before upgrading your phone. This is better for the environment, as it reduces the number of new phones that are discarded each year.

5. Remove fingerprints

Fingerprint sensors aren’t just sensitive; they can also be a little finicky. If the sensor isn’t properly cleaned, fingerprints can build up over time, causing it to become less and less responsive. Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to keep your fingerprint scanner working correctly.

Keep a microfiber cloth on hand, and use it obsessively. Using the cloth to wipe down your phone can remove fingerprints and prevent them from building up on the sensor. Additionally, you should avoid using screen protectors, as they can make the problem worse.

Most modern smartphone and tablet screens have an oleophobic coating that helps repel fingerprints and other oils. However, this coating can wear off over time, and some types of household cleaners can strip it away completely. When cleaning your device, use only lint-free cloths or soft microfiber cloths. Avoid paper towels and scouring pads, which can leave rough materials behind that can damage your device.

It’s also important to keep your hands clean and dry when you’re using the fingerprint scanner. Natural oils, moisturizers, and food can all interfere with the sensor’s performance. If possible, register fingerprints from both your left and right hand so that you can unlock your device no matter which hand you’re holding it with.

Finally, it’s important to remember that sometimes the best solution is simply to restart your device. Restarting your phone can fix a variety of issues, from an unstable Wi-Fi connection to a frozen app. And, as a bonus, it can also help you get your fingerprint sensor back up and running. So, next time you notice that your fingerprint sensor isn’t working, try restarting your phone before you head to a repair shop!