If your touchscreen is caked in a layer of dirt or debris, you might be wondering whether it’s safe to clean it with rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol is a powerful cleaning agent. Typically consisting of 70% isopropyl alcohol, it’s able to remove otherwise stubborn dirt and debris from most surfaces. With that said, using rubbing alcohol to clean your touchscreen is a bad idea for several reasons.

Potential for Moisture Damage

Not all touchscreens are resistant to moisture. While resistive touchscreens can typically withstand moisture — including liquids such as rubbing alcohol — capacitive touchscreens may succumb to damage when exposed to moisture. If you have a capacitive touchscreen, you should try to keep it away from all liquids.

Using rubbing alcohol to clean a capacitive touchscreen may result in damage. Some of the rubbing alcohol may work its way behind the display interface and into the capacitive touchscreen’s circuit board where it causes permanent damage. To err on the side of caution, avoid using rubbing alcohol and all other liquid-based cleaning products on your capacitive touchscreen.

Dissolves the Oleophobic Coating

Whether you have a capacitive, resistive, infrared (IR) grid or any other type of touchscreen, rubbing alcohol may dissolve its oleophobic coating. What is an oleophobic coating exactly? It’s an invisible layer of an oil-wicking liquid that’s applied to the surface of a touchscreen. Most touchscreens have an oleophobic coating. Regardless of the specific type of touchscreen you own, it probably has this coating. If you use rubbing alcohol to clean your touchscreen, you may inadvertently dissolve the oleophobic coating.

Rubbing alcohol may clean dirt and debris off your touchscreen, but it comes at the cost of dissolving the oleophobic coating. And once this coating is gone, your touchscreen will be susceptible to fingerprint smudges. The oleophobic coating is designed primarily to prevent and discourage fingerprint smudges. To preserve it, you should avoid cleaning your touchscreen with rubbing alcohol.

Increased Wear and Tear

Your touchscreen will be more susceptible to wear and tear if you use rubbing alcohol to clean it. As previously mentioned, rubbing alcohol will dissolve the oleophobic coating. Aside from making your touchscreen more vulnerable to fingerprint smudges, the lack of an oleophobic coating can lead to increased wear and tear. Performing touch commands will wear down your touchscreen more quickly without an oleophobic coating. You can make your touchscreen last longer by avoiding the use of rubbing alcohol. Instead, clean your touchscreen with a dry microfiber cloth.