Phone cleaning guide: Get more years out of your iPhone or Android

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The difference between a new tech gadget and an older one often feels like night and day. It’s common for a computer to start losing its pep over time. Startups take longer, the browser drags, apps take longer to open, or the system freezes for no apparent reason. Tap or click for five quick ways to speed up your PC.

Of course, your Wi-Fi could be the problem. I get more calls and emails than I can count about bad internet connections. Tap or click for 10 ways to boost your speeds.

When it comes to your phone, a thorough cleanup inside and out can do a world of good. Protect that expensive gadget; follow this list next time yours needs a refresh. Today would be a good day.

The dating app Tinder is shown on an Apple iPhone in this photo illustration taken on February 10, 2016.

The dating app Tinder is shown on an Apple iPhone in this photo illustration taken on February 10, 2016.
(REUTERS/Mike Blake/Illustration)

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Start with the outside

Keeping your phone clean isn’t hard with the right supplies and a little bit of elbow grease. Put down the paper towels and follow these simple steps for cleaning your screen, ports, and case.

Cleaning the screen

First, remove your phone’s case and accessories. You want to reach every nook and cranny.

A microfiber cloth works for wiping away smudges and grease, but I prefer screen cleaning wipes designed for smartphones. They’re just so easy. Skip paper towels. They’re too rough for delicate jobs like this.

I have purchased this 210-pack of screen cleaning wipes from Care Touch time and time again. Use them on smartphones, tablets, monitors, TVs, and remote controls. They’re scratch-free and made with anti-static tissue that cleans without leaving behind streaks or lint.

Don’t forget the ports

Your phone’s ports collect dust, grime, and dirt. Avoid using cotton swabs, which leave behind fuzz and could leave you worse off than when you started. Toothpicks can work if you are very gentle, but breaking off the sharp end inside a port is easy.

I prefer tools made for the job. It helps that these are cheap.

This: Skylety 17-piece phone cleaning kit is under $10. The kit includes anti-static brushes, nylon brushes, cleaning cloths and a de-dusting film. You can use them to clean the gunk out of your ports gently.

Scrub your case

If you keep your phone in a case, I bet you’re shocked every time you take it off and see all the grime collected inside it. You don’t need to be rather as careful with your case as your phone’s screen and ports.

For plastic, rubber, and silicone cases, grab an old toothbrush and a bit of warm, soapy water. Use the toothbrush to reach all the corners and crevices. Rinse it thoroughly.

Very lightly dampen a microfiber cloth with water and a mild soap for leather cases. Lightly rub the case in circular motions.

After it’s clean, let your case dry thoroughly before you put it back on. Need case recommendations? I share some here, along with my favorite screen protector. This has saved me from cracking my iPhone several times.

Now that your phone is bright and shiny on the outside, let’s dive into the inside.

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Make yours: phone faster and more secure

Cookies, location services, and ad networks can slow you down and even pose privacy and security risks. It only takes a few minutes to clear out the junk bogging you down.

Delete apps you don’t use anymore

It’s smart to inventory what apps are on your phone now and then. Delete what you don’t use regularly. Delete or close down the account associated with the app before you remove it. Tap or click here for steps to do that the right way.

You can also take care of that on your computer. This digital tool shows you the best ways to delete unwanted accounts from almost every online service. Tap or click here to see how to delete your unwanted accounts.

On your iPhone, open 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.

On Android gadgets, go to: Settings:then tap Apps:. A list of the apps on your phone will appear. Select the app you want to delete and tap Uninstall:. (Note: Your exact steps may differ depending on the device’s manufacturer.)

Check your permissions

Most apps on your phone collect information to learn more about you. 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 ones use your camera, microphone, or location data.

On your iPhone:

Open the: Settings: app. Scroll down and tap the: Privacy: icon.

Select a tool on which you want to check permissions, like Calendars, Location Services, or Camera. A list of apps that have access to these tools will appear.

Choose which apps can access these tools on your device and remove permissions from apps you don’t want to collect data.

On Android:

Open the: Settings: app >: Privacy:.

Tap: Permission manager: to see a list of permissions and the apps granted those permissions. You will see Body sensors, Calendar, Camera, Location, Microphone, and more.

Click an app to change its permission settings.

Clear the cache

Your phone’s browser stores tiny files that help sites load faster and collect lots of data. You can wipe that out.

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

Open: Settings:scroll down and select Safari:.

Under the: Privacy & Security: section, tap: Clear History and Website Data. This will remove browsing history, cookies, and other site data.

You can clear the cache from other apps, too. Tap: Settings:, General: and: iPhone storage:, and scroll through your apps. They are listed 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 and reinstall it later. You won’t lose any personal information, but you may need to re-enter your login details.

To delete the cache from the Chrome browser on an Android phone, follow these steps below:

Open: Chrome:.

At the top right, tap the: three-dot icon:.

Tap: History:then: Clear browsing data.

At the top, choose a time range. To delete everything, select: All the time.

Check the boxes next to “Cookies and site data” and “Cached images and files.”

Tap: Clear data.

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

Open the: Settings: app, then tap Storage:.

Tap: Apps: to see a list of your installed apps.

Find the application you want to clear the cache of and tap it. Tap: Clear Cache: to delete the app’s cache.

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

Tap: Settings:then: Storage:.

Tap: Free up space.

Your phone will recommend junk files, duplicates, memes, screenshots, blurry photos, and more for removal. Choose a category and tap Select files:.

Choose each file you want to remove. At the bottom, select: Move (number) files to Trash.

File photo:  Sundar Pichai speaks during the Google I/O Conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, California June 28, 2012. (REUTERS/Stephen Lam)

File photo: Sundar Pichai speaks during the Google I/O Conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, California June 28, 2012. (REUTERS/Stephen Lam)
(REUTERS/Stephen Lam)

Update your operating system

If you want to protect your phone, you must keep its operating system and apps up to date with the latest versions.

To get the latest iOS updates on your iPhone.

Go to: Settings: >: General: and then tap: Software Update:. If you’re already running the most recent update, you will see “Your software is up to date.”

If an update is available, tap: Download: >: Install:. You can also tap: Later: >: Install Tonight: or: Remind Me Later:. If you tap Install Tonight, your device will update automatically overnight.

If asked, enter your passcode.

To get the latest iOS app updates:

Open the: App Store:.

Tap your: profile icon: at the top of the screen.

Scroll down to see pending updates and release notes.

Tap: Update: next to an app to update only that app or tap: Update All:.

To get the latest Android operating system updates.

Open your phone’s Settings: app.

Navigate to: System: >: System update:.

You’ll see your update status. Follow any steps on the screen.

To get the latest Android security and Google Play updates.

Open: Settings:then tap Security:.

To check if a security update is available, tap: Security update:.

To check if a Google Play system update is available, tap: Google Play system update.

Follow any steps on the screen.

There you have it. Your phone is like new again. Now the hard part. Keeping it that way. I recommend doing this cleaning a few times a year for the best performance.

In this photo illustration an Android logo seen displayed on a smartphone.

In this photo illustration an Android logo seen displayed on a smartphone.
(Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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Keep your tech-savvy going

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Learn about all the latest technology on: The Kim Komando Show:, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to: online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at: Komando.com