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Tech tips

If you’ve had your phone longer than 3 months, it needs this deep clean

One of the best parts of getting a new phone is how fresh it feels inside and out. The screen is scratch-free, your storage is empty and the phone doesn’t stall or slow down on you.

But before long, your new device loses its luster. After setting it on dirty surfaces and taking it into the bathroom with you, it’s always a good idea to give your phone a thorough cleaning. Tap or click here to see five things you must do when you buy a new smartphone.

The outside of your phone isn’t the only thing that needs to be cleaned. After a short time, cookies, location services and ad networks could start causing problems behind the scenes. They could even pose privacy and security risks.

The clock starts ticking the moment you take your new phone out of its box. Deep cleaning your phone will help it stay fresh. Let’s get started with the outside first.

The basics

Keeping the outside of your phone clean isn’t too much work. All you need are the right supplies and a little bit of elbow grease. Follow these simple steps to keep your phone as pristine as the day you unboxed it.

You might also like: 4 things to do when you get a new PC

Cleaning the screen

Before you get started, remove your phone’s case and accessories so you can reach all the deep nooks and crannies.

Begin with screen cleaning wipes that are designed for smartphones. This 210-pack of screen cleaning wipes from Care Touch can be used on smartphones, tablets, monitors, TVs and remote controls.

The wipes are safe for your electronics, allowing you to wipe away dust, fingerprints, makeup and oil. They’re also scratch-free and made with anti-static micro-fine tissue that can clean lenses without leaving behind streaks.

Don’t forget the ports

It’s important to also get inside your ports to remove any dust or grime that built up.

This Skylety 17 piece phone cleaning kit can help. Use it to clean out your USB charging ports and headphone jacks — if your phone still has one, of course.

Unlike cotton swabs, the cleaning supplies have an anti-static design that won’t leave fuzz or lint behind. The kit includes anti-static brushes, nylon brushes, cleaning cloths and a de-dusting film.

Tech to the rescue

Looking for an even easier way to sanitize your phone? Check out the PhoneSoap 3 UV smartphone sanitizer and universal charger.

It uses two germicidal UV-C bulbs that sanitize your entire phone and kill 99.9% of bacteria and germs. The unit also comes with a USB port and a USB-C port for charging and works with both Apple and Android devices.

Now that you’ve taken care of the outside of your device, let’s look at practical ways to clean up the inside.

Make your device more secure

Cookies from websites you’ve visited, location services and ad networks could be responsible for slowing down your phone. The good news is you can clean all of these things up and make sure you’re getting the best possible performance in just a few minutes.

Related: Stop your phone from being tracked with these settings

Get rid of those unused apps

Did you know apps can drain your phone’s resources even if you don’t use them? Decide which apps you want to keep and delete whatever you’re not using to clean up your phone.

iPhone

On your iPhone, launch the Settings app, tap General, then iPhone Storage. Scroll and select the apps you want to delete. Tap Delete App and Delete App again to confirm you want to delete it.

Android

On Android gadgets, go to Settings, scroll down, then tap Apps. A list of the apps on your phone will appear. Select the app you want to delete and tap Uninstall. Make sure to go back to your display window to remove the widget. If all else fails, Settings is the place to start when looking to delete apps.

Note: Steps in this article are for Samsung phones. Your exact steps may be different depending on the device’s manufacturer.

Keeping too many apps on your phone can be detrimental to your security. The more unused accounts you leave hanging out, the more opportunities for those accounts to get hacked or leaked in a data breach.

Once you’ve gotten rid of the apps from your phone, get on your computer and delete the accounts associated with them. This digital tool will show you the best ways to delete unwanted accounts from almost every online service you can think of.

Tap or click here to see how to delete your unwanted accounts.

Check your permissions

Many apps collect data from your phone to learn more about your habits and activities. This data can be used for targeted advertisements, marketing and improvements to systems like search engines and voice assistants.

Give your phone a privacy checkup by reviewing the permissions you’ve given your apps. You might be surprised at which apps use your camera, microphone or location data.

On iPhone:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down and tap the Privacy icon.
  3. Select a tool that you want to check permissions on, like CalendarsLocation Services or Camera. A list of apps that have access to these tools will appear.
  4. Choose which apps can access these tools on your device and remove permissions from apps you don’t want to collect data.

On Android:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Apps & notifications, followed by Advanced App permissions.
  3. Select a tool like CalendarLocation, or Phone.
  4. Choose which apps can access these tools on your device and remove permissions from apps you don’t want to collect data.

Clear that cache

When your phone runs low on storage, it can slow down significantly. An easy way to free up space is to clear your phone’s cache. Here’s how:

iPhone

To delete the cache from your Safari browser, follow these steps below:

  1. Open Settings, scroll down and select Safari.
  2. Under the Privacy & Security section, tap Clear History and Data. This will remove browsing history, cookies and other site data.

To clear the cache from other apps, tap Settings, then General and iPhone storage, then scroll through your apps. Apps are listed in order by the amount of space they take from most to least.

If an app uses a ton of space, like more than 500MB, it’s a good idea to uninstall it and reinstall it later. Don’t worry; you won’t lose any personal information.

Note: To see how much space an app is taking up, select the app and look for the number next to Documents & Data.

The Facebook app is notorious for hogging space. If it’s using several gigabytes, uninstalling it will clear the cache. All of your posts and friends will still be there when you reinstall the app and sign back into Facebook. This can free up lots of space and help your phone run smoother.

Android

To delete the cache from the Chrome browser, follow these steps below:

  1. Open Chrome.
  2. At the top right, tap the three-dot icon.
  3. Tap History, then Clear browsing data.
  4. At the top, choose a time range. To delete everything, select All time.
  5. Next to “Cookies and site data” and “Cached images and files,” check the boxes.
  6. Tap Clear data.

Clearing the cache from your apps can improve your performance and give you more room for photos, videos and new apps.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Storage. If your phone runs an older version of Android, tap App Manager.
  3. Tap Other Apps to see a list of your installed apps.
  4. Find the application you want to clear the cache of and tap it. Tap Clear Cache to delete the app’s cache.

Android also gives you the option to free up space by deleting infrequently used apps and files. To access the Free Up feature, follow the steps below:

  1. Tap Settings, followed by Storage.
  2. Tap Free up space.
  3. Pick a file to delete and check the empty box on the right.
  4. Tap Free Up at the bottom of the screen.

How to get better battery life

Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi can significantly impact battery life because your phone is always searching for a signal. Turn them off when you’re not using them — especially if you’re in an area with a spotty connection.

Here’s how to change these settings to save your battery:

iPhone

To turn off the GPS on your iPhone, tap SettingsPrivacy, then Location Services. Slide the toggle to off. To turn off Bluetooth, open the Settings app, scroll down and tap Bluetooth, then slide the toggle to off. For turning off Wi-Fi, launch Settings, tap Wi-Fi and slide the toggle to off.

You can also switch off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in your phone’s handy Control Center. How you access the Control Center depends on which iPhone model you have, but it’s equally simple. For iPhone 8 and older, swipe up from the Home screen. For iPhone X or newer, swipe down from the top right side of the Home screen, and voilà, there it is.

If the icon of the feature you want to turn off is blue, it means it’s on. Just tap the icon and it will turn white, which means the feature is off.

Android

On your Android, to turn off Wi-Fi, go to Settings, tap Connection, then find Wi-Fi and slide the toggle to off. On the same page, you can also turn off your Bluetooth and GPS.

If your Android supports this function, go to your home screen and swipe down to see the Status Bar. From there, you can turn off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS by tapping the appropriate icons.

Related: How to save battery power on your Android phone

Now that you know how to keep your current phone sanitized and working perfectly, there is no need to run out to buy a new one any time soon. With newer models running well over a grand these days, why not save yourself some money?

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