It can be really frustrating to find several fingerprints on the display of your smartphone. Unfortunately, most smartphones today do not support fingerprint resistance. Thus, there is a continuous need to always wipe our smartphone screens to make them look cleaner. While many people are comfortable with a simple wipe using any clean cloth, some are not. Some users believe that they need some sort of disinfectant to make the smartphone screen clean. During the pandemic, various alcohol-containing disinfectants and cleaners have become common household items. We hold mobile phones in our hands every day and they can easily get contaminated with various pathogens. Since various alcohol-containing cleaners can not only clean oil stains but can also kill germs, wouldn’t it be appropriate to use them to wipe the smartphone screen? Well, don’t be too sure about how appropriate alcohol is for cleaning a smartphone screen.
Adverse alcohol effect on an LCD display
While you may be tempted to use alcohol-based disinfectant to wipe your smartphone screen, please don’t. This is because if you do it incorrectly, it is likely to damage your phone or other electronic devices. Because using alcohol to wipe the smartphone screen is likely to cause irreversible serious damage to the screen. This is particularly true for LCD screens. So, why does alcohol have a strong erosive effect on LCD screens?
The liquid crystal screen is composed of multi-layer materials and its core is a sandwich structure with a layer of liquid crystal molecules sandwiched between two polarizers. Both the polarizer and the liquid crystal molecules themselves are very soluble in alcohol. Once corroded by alcohol, they will dissolve immediately and the screen will become mottled.
However, modern LCD screens, especially various touch screens, are not so fragile. Because we will also set a glass cover on the top layer of the screen, this cover mainly prevents scratches from damaging the screen. Furthermore, this later can naturally block various moisture and solvents from the outside from directly interacting with the structure below. But even so, wiping the screen with alcohol-based cleaners is a dangerous practice for two main reasons.
Reasons why you shouldn’t use alcohol on your smartphone screen
As we said earlier, there are two main reasons why we should avoid the use of alcohol for cleaning our smartphones.
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First, the surface of the glass cover is actually coated with a special organic film, such as an oleophobic film. This can reduce oil adsorption and ease fingerprints from dirtying the screen. Most of these coatings contain various organic compounds, and their resistance to alcohol is very weak. If they are wiped with alcohol from externally, the coatings are more likely to fall off. This will cause the display to become blurry. Of course, if the screen of the mobile phone is covered with film, then there is no need to worry too much about this problem.
Second, although the top layer of the LCD screen, that is, its surface is not so squeamish, its sides are still very fragile. Most of the LCD screens damaged by alcohol are actually because the alcohol penetrated into the gaps on the side of the screen. This means that as the user wipes with alcohol, the alcohol, finds its way into the sides of the display. It manoeuvres from the glass panel and drills directly into the lower structure. The surface tension of alcohol is weak and the capillary effect is strong. Once it finds its way into the side of the display, it will quickly penetrate into it. As we will all expect, the consequences are naturally very irritating.
What to do if alcohol enters the side of your screen
If somehow, a small amount of alcohol enters the inside of the screen, you can immediately turn off the device to dry naturally. Alternatively, you can use a hairdryer to dry it carefully and this will not affect subsequent use.
How to clean your LCD smartphone screen (other gadgets inclusive)
From time to time, there is usually a need to clean the display of our smartphones. We also need to clean the screen of our tablet or computer. When we have such a need, all we have to do is spray some special LCD screen cleaner and wipe it with a soft cloth. This will make the screen clean and appear brand new. The LCD screen cleaner has a very good removal effect on fingerprints and oil films, and many wet wipes also have similar functions.
The active ingredients contained in these cleaning products are mainly surfactants. They have a good cleaning effect on oil stains and will not damage various organic coatings. If there is no similar cleaning agent, the LCD screen can also be cleaned with a damp cloth dipped in a very small amount of pure water. However, be very careful not to let water flow into the gaps around the screen.
To sum up, if it is just for cleaning, it is not safe to use alcohol. If there is a need for disinfection, then you should be cautious. Some mobile phone products will be sterilized with alcohol. It is recommended to read the instructions before disinfection. In addition, when disinfecting a mobile phone with alcohol, it is also recommended to first dip the alcohol on a soft cloth, and then gently wipe it with the soft cloth. Do not spray or pour alcohol directly on the screen, so as to prevent the alcohol from flowing everywhere and increase the risk of eroding the original screen and damaging the mobile phone.
There are multiple types of LCD screen cleaners that users can purchase off the shelf. If you feel that a simple cloth wipe is not enough, then try and purchase any of the LCD screen wipes on the market. As much as you can, try to avoid the use of alcohol or alcohol-based disinfectant to clean your smartphone. The adverse effect of this could be worth much more than the need to clean or disinfect the device.