Will Dust Under A Screen Protector Scratch My Phone Screen?

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A phone screen protector is a thin, flexible piece of tempered glass or plastic film that adheres to your phone to protect the screen from scratches and other damage. Dust particles can easily get under a screen protector and become trapped. But can dust actually scratch your phone screen?

Dust can’t scratch your phone screen. Phone screens are made of scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, and screen protectors have an adhesive that bonds to the screen. Any dust trapped between the screen and the protector will be immovable and harmless.

Let’s look at whether dust can scratch your phone screen and if you should remove your screen protector in order to clean the screen. We’ll also go over the correct way to remove a screen protector and whether you can then reapply it. Finally, we’ll look at which type of screen protector is best.

Can Dust Under a Screen Protector Scratch Glass?

Process of removing broken tempered glass screen protector from smartphone

The short answer is no. Dust particles cannot scratch a phone screen.

Phone screens are made of Gorilla Glass, a tough, chemically strengthened type of glass designed to be scratch-resistant. Because Gorilla Glass is so strong, it’s used in industrial and military applications where scratching or shattering is a risk.

Plus, the underside of a screen protector is sticky, inhibiting dust from moving around and scratching the screen.

And even if a dust particle could move around, it would take something much sharper and harder than dust to scratch the surface of your phone screen. 

Should I Remove My Screen Protector to Clean the Screen?

While removing your screen protector to clean the screen is unnecessary, you may want to do so if there’s a noticeable dust build-up, especially if it’s affecting your ability to see the screen properly.

Screen protectors are usually polyethylene terephthalate (PET), thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), or tempered glass, and they adhere with a sticky backing. Thinner film protectors use electrostatic force to stick to the screen.

Removing a screen protector can impair the sticky backing, making it harder for the screen protector to adhere again. This could cause air bubbles to form.

Tempered glass screen protectors will also crack or shatter if bent during removal. Film protectors can be removed and reapplied more easily but may not lay flat again.

So, you’ll likely need to replace any screen protector you remove, depending on the material and how you remove it.

How to Properly Remove a Screen Protector

You can try to pry one side of the screen protector back and remove the dust from the screen with scotch tape or an alcohol wipe. But if you need to remove the entire screen protector, there are a couple of things you should do to avoid damage:

  • If your screen protector is tempered glass, heat it with a hair dryer for 15 to 30 seconds to loosen the adhesive and make it easier to remove.
  • If your screen protector is another material, use a credit card, guitar pick, or similar object to pry back one corner of the screen protector. Once you have a small opening, grasp the edge of the screen protector with your fingers and peel it off.

Once you’ve removed the screen protector, use an alcohol wipe to remove any leftover adhesive or residue.

Can a Screen Protector Be Reapplied?

Screen protectors are normally a onetime use item because the adhesive is designed to bond only once. Reapplying a screen protector generally doesn’t work very well.

But if you want to attempt to reapply a screen protector, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Make sure that the surface of your phone’s screen is clean before reapplying the protector. Any dirt or dust on the surface will become trapped under the protector, which can ultimately lead to bubbles or poor adhesion.

If the screen protector was initially applied correctly and there’s no damage to it, you may be able to peel it off and reapply it without issue. However, if the protector is damaged either from use or during removal, it’s best to replace it with a new one, as it won’t adhere securely.

When reapplying the screen protector, line it up correctly and apply gentle pressure evenly across the surface to avoid trapping air bubbles.

What’s the Most Effective Type of Screen Protector?

Installs a screen protector in a phone

Tempered glass is the most effective type of screen protector. 

Because tempered glass is four times stronger than regular glass, it provides better protection against scratches, drops, and other impacts. A tempered glass screen protector will also preserve the clarity and responsiveness of your phone’s display.

Spigen (on Amazon) has tempered glass screen protectors with an auto-alignment installation kit, making the application process easy and bubble-free. ESR (on Amazon) offers a similar alignment frame kit.

And if you have a curved-screen phone, Supershieldz (on Amazon) offers specialized screen protector installation kits.

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