8 ways to spring-clean your smartphone so you and your phone can function better

Most of us treat our phones like an essential extra limb, so there’s nothing more annoying than when it lags, crashes, or won’t hold a charge. But there’s no need to go broke for a new phone just yet. Your smartphone may just need a little refresh. With spring right around the corner, how about doing a little spring-cleaning on your smartphone?

“Smartphone slowdown is real,” Andrew Moore-Crispin, tech expert and director of content at Ting Mobile, tells HelloGiggles. “Phones can easily accumulate a lot of junk from downloads, apps, pictures, videos, music, etc. Some spring-cleaning, with a bit of attention to what’s on your phone and how those apps are performing, can help cut the clutter and put the spring back in your smartphone’s step.”

Being proactive and paying attention to your phone’s performance can go a long way. While spring-cleaning season is a good time to assess your phone’s efficiency, it never hurts to routinely check and declutter your phone throughout the year.

“For instance, if you love to take pictures and capture videos, your phone might run out of storage faster than others,” Moore-Crispin says. “And if your device warns you that you’re low on storage, don’t ignore it. It’s better to address the problem head-on than to ignore and repeatedly deal with it.”

So here are some things you can do to clean your phone and keep it working like new, according to experts:

1 Get older photos off your phone

“If you have more than 1 GB in your photos, you should consider copying photos and videos to another storage space so you can delete them and free up a lot of space,” Sascha Segan, lead mobile analyst at PCMag, tells HelloGiggles. He says iCloud works the smoothest with iPhones, but Google Photos offers free unlimited storage for images if you don’t want to pay for a plan.

2 Take inventory of the apps you have and get rid of the ones you don’t use

“We’ve all downloaded useless apps before, but the shame is in keeping them,” Moore-Crispin says. “Start to be more mindful of the apps that might be taking up data, slowing down your device, and eating battery life.”

A good rule of thumb is: if it’s been a while since you last used an app, it’s probably time to get rid of it.

If you have an Android, tap and hold the app, drag it up to the top of the screen where it says Uninstall, and drop it. For a list view of all apps, just go to Settings > Apps > See any app you haven’t used in a while and tap Uninstall.

On iPhone, just tap and hold the unused app on the home screen. Your apps will then start to wiggle. Tap the X in the corner of any app you want to get rid of. For a list view, go to Settings > General > Storage, tap any app, tap Delete, then tap to confirm.

You can even auto-delete apps you don’t use. To do so, navigate to Settings > General > iPhone Storage > Offload Unused Apps. The good part is, it won’t kill the data associated with the apps. So you can always download it again later and use as if nothing ever happened.

3 Organize your remaining apps

Spare yourself the endless swiping and put your most frequently used apps on the home page, Moore-Crispin suggests. It’s also not a bad idea to compress and organize your apps into smart folders.

4 Deny location tracking

According to Moore-Crispin, allowing apps to track your location can drain your phone’s battery. While it’s necessary for some apps like Lyft or Uber, it may not be necessary for every app that asks you for permission. Not every app needs to know where you are. So find those apps and deny permission to track your location.

On Android, you get to choose which permissions you’ll grant to a given app as you install it. If you want to add or take away permissions, just go to Settings> Apps. Tap an app, tap Permissions, then turn the options on or off accordingly.

On an iPhone, just go to Settings > Privacy > Location, and then choose the apps that you want to give location access to.

5 Clear your cached data

“Cached data is helpful and can save on mobile data because you’ll have quicker load times,” Moore-Crispin says. “However, the more time you spend online, the more sizable the cache.” This, in turn, will slow down your phone.

So in order to get things moving again, clear your cached data. This will vary on Android phones, so search for your specific model if you’re not sure how to do this. On an iPhone, you can easily clear Safari browser data. Just open Settings > Safari and tap Clear History and Data.

“If you have an app that’s presenting problems, you might want to delete and reinstall the app to clear the cache,” Moore-Crispin says. “Hopefully this can clear up those problems.”

6 Get your charging port cleaned by a professional

In order to keep your phone healthy and avoid any charging issues, Liz Hamilton, director of people and customers at Mobile Klinik, tells HelloGiggles to consider seeking out a professional mobile technician. They can remove any lint, dust, or debris that may be in your charging port using a special tool.

“It’s best not to try and clean this yourself as you could damage your phone, resulting in more costly repairs,” she says. “Along with the interior, take special care of your smartphone’s screen by using a special screen cleaner or screen wipes.”

7 Don’t be afraid to hit reset

Sometimes, desperate times call for desperate measures. “If the system freezes for no apparent reason or apps refuse to launch, you can give your phone a clean slate by doing a factory reset,” Moore-Crispin says.

On Android, go to Settings > Backup and reset and then choose Factory data reset. On iPhone, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase all content and settings.

Before you do so, remember to completely back up all of your data first since everything on your phone will be deleted.

8 Make sure your phone is up to date

It’s important to note that older phones will require a little extra love and care. So remember to keep them updated. “Not only will your phone get the latest in security and bug fixes, but it will also integrate new and helpful features, offering you a better experience with your cell phone,” Moore-Crispin says.

Keeping your phone in good shape is all about being proactive. Whether you’re in need of a good spring-clean or experiencing slower speeds throughout the year, these tips are easy and will keep your phone running like new.