How to Protect and Restore Your Smartphone’s Oleophobic Coating

A hand wiping the screen of a smartphone with a cloth.nikkimeel / Shutterstock

Your smartphone and other touch devices have a layer called “oleophobic coating”. No matter how carefully you try to protect it, it wears out over time. Fortunately, you can restore it and give the touch screen a new look.

What is an oleophobic coating?

When you unpack a new smartphone for the first time, one of the most striking things is the new, shiny appearance of the screen. This has surprisingly little to do with the lack of scratches and more to do with the new oleophobic treatment layer.

From the first day you start using your smartphone, this coating starts to wear out. Using a screen protector is the only way to really protect it. And if you apply a glass screen protector, it will probably also have an oleophobic coating.

The coating affects not only the appearance of your device, but also its feel. Your fingers slide easily on a brand new screen and little friction slows you down. It’s also easy to clean fingerprints and grease the screen with a cloth.

A hand holding an Android phone with spots on the screen.ThomasDeco / Shutterstock

As the coating wears out, fingerprints tend to hang around longer and require more thorough cleaning. The oil or water that was beaded into smaller droplets is now on the screen and smears.

To test this, just put a drop of water on the screen. If it pearls and holds together in a sphere, the oleophobic coating does its job. However, if the water spreads and moves around the screen in a large drop, you know that the coasting has run out.

The oleophobic coating is not essential for the operation of your device. Your phone will work fine without it, and your screen can no longer be scratched or broken. It will not look nor as pleasant.

If your device is a year or two old, don’t be surprised to find that the oleophobic coating has completely disappeared. The more you use your phone, the faster it wears out.

Protection of the oleophobic coating

Although this oil-repellent coating wears out in ordinary use, there are steps you can take to protect it. The most obvious thing you can do is never use any abrasive cleaner or detergent on the touch screen.

This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

Windex or other window cleaners
Bleach or other bleach-based cleaning agents
Detergents, such as washing powder or washing up liquid
Cream cleansers
Cutting agents, such as T-Cut, or other polishes

Abrasive cleaners completely remove the oleophobic coating. Some may even damage the screen or leave it streaked or cloudy. Fortunately, there are safe ways to clean your smartphone and other touchscreen devices.

First of all, always start by wiping your device with a soft, lint-free cloth. Moisten it with water and remove any visible dirt and grime. This is important because bacteria and other bad guys cling to dirt.

A blue microfiber cloth sitting next to an iPhone. Tim Brookes

AT disinfect your smartphone, use an alcohol-based cleaning solution containing at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol. Apple recommends that you use 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes to clean iPhones, iPads and other devices during the current coronavirus pandemic. You can apply the same instructions to modern Android phones made of similar materials.

Keep in mind that cleaning the screen this way can accelerate the wear rate of the oleophobic coating. However, it is necessary to disinfect your phone or tablet this way, as you are probably touching it hundreds of times a day. This is especially important if you hold your phone to your face during calls.

If you want to restore the touch screen to like-new condition, you can use some replacement products to do so.

RELATED: How to disinfect your smartphone

Oleophobic coating restoration

If you’ve applied a glass screen protector to your device, you can simply replace it to give it a new feel. It is a cost-effective way to restore your device to its former glory. It will also help it maintain its resale value.

For those who have not thought in advance, you can purchase an aftermarket oleophobic coating kit (as Fusso by Crystal Armor) and reapply it yourself. These kits cost around $ 10 or $ 20 for a single treatment, which is good for a device.

Keep in mind that the instructions may vary depending on the product. Always follow the instructions on the product.

Generally the process is quite simple. The following is a summary of how iFixit describes the process of restore the oleophobic coating:

Clean the screen with isopropyl alcohol until it is free of grease and other dirt.
Let the alcohol evaporate completely so that the screen is completely dry.
Place a ziplock bag on your finger (you’ll use it like a squeegee).
Apply 10 to 15 drops of liquid oleophobic coating on the screen.
Immediately spread the liquid on the screen with your finger covered with plastic. (It dries quickly, so be quick!)
Allow the coating to cure for eight to 12 hours (ideally overnight). Wipe off any excess residue with a soft cloth.
Repeat this process if necessary, according to the instructions on the product.

The more you repeat the process, the thicker the coating and therefore the longer it will last. Although the coating appears to dry quickly, you should leave it intact for an extended period of time.

However, if you follow the instructions, there is very little room for error. Your device will be shiny and new again. You can even “fill” certain surface scratches so that they are less visible.

Apple and other phone manufacturers agree that the disinfectant wipes * will not break an oleophobic screen coating. We have therefore updated our guide on how to apply or reapply it:

– iFixit (@iFixit) March 18, 2020

The oil is back

Again, remember that your recently restored oleophobic coating will not last forever. It is also unlikely that a third coating will last as long as the one applied at the factory. However, they should be similar in terms of look and feel.

You can also use oleophobic treatment on all glass touch screens, including smart watches, tablets and some fitness trackers.

If you plan to choose screen protection for your next device, it’s worth noting the Gorilla Glass on most new phones. is stronger than many base metals.

RELATED: You probably don’t need a screen protector

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