Tip: Using Rain X to help keep your Windows Phone display smudge free

Back a few weeks ago we came across a post detailing how using Rain X, the popular anti-rain liquid for car windshields, can help reduce finger print smudges on your phone.

Having applied the solution to our devices, we used them over the last two weeks and we figured we’d share our results.

The Theory

Rain X is “a synthetic hydrophobic surface-applied product that causes water to bead, most commonly used on glass automobile surfaces”. The keyword there is hydrophobic, meaning it repels water. That’s different though than oleophobic, which means to repel oil. That latter one is what we often find on the iPhone and other modern devices and it greatly helps reducing fingerprints and smudges. It doesn’t completely remove them of course, merely reduces their appearance.

In that sense, Rain X doesn’t seem to be the ideal solution for this problem but being a –phobic product it’s not too far off the mark either.

By applying Rain X ($3.99, super markets, auto stores) to a cleaned smartphone display, you simply wait until it dries and then wipe off the excess, giving it a good "polish". This “process” took no more than two minutes, meaning it was hardly a project.


Truth be told, Rain X in of itself is great for cleaning screens and for that reason alone it’s not a bad idea. The smudges, on the other hand, seem just as apparent as without the Rain X usage—at least initially.

We will say over the following few weeks, our devices were perceptibly cleaner and less “smudgy” than without the Rain X coating. At the very least, wiping the display with a cloth was a lot easier to clean than without the Rain X.

So the conclusion? Rain X certainly helps keep the display cleaner and we’re putting it on all our glass screens (it’s not advised to use it on plastic, but that should be a thing of the past). It’s not a 100% home run and you still will see smudges, but over the following days post-application, you should notice a reduction in the amount of fingerprints on your Windows Phone. You could do a lot worse and we don’t see any negative side effects in our usage, just keep expectations in check and you should be happy with the results.

Do you have a tip for this problem? Share your experience in comments.

Via: Netbook Network

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • So I guess applying it to your screen protector is a no-no?
  • You can do it, I don't thinkn anything bad will happen. Try it in the corner, wait a few days, see what happens.
  • sorry - double posted for some reason...
  • Any suggesions on smoothing out those hairline scratches that are really only visable when the light hits the screen a certain way? I've read that in some cases toothpaste and a cutip has worked. Has anyone had any experience with this or tried something else?
  • Don't do  that, the toothpaste scratches it, thats how it cleans your teeth
  • Pledge or any other waxy furniture polish.  We use it on airplane wind screens.
  • As an auto detailer I just can say that Rain X is criminal against rubber parts, so just be careful it does not touch anything rubberized.
  • Is it safe to apply on the screen-guard?
  • Why would anyone need a screen guard for gorilla glass? An honest question.
  • gorilla glass is scratch resistant not scratch proof
  • I can vouch for that. I've got a few scratches on my 920's glass. I suppose they could be from it falling face-first onto asphalt. Thinking about looking for a protector now. Just need to find one that has a similar feel to the glass and won't come off.
  • I've got a few on mine and it's never been dropped, so who knows where they actually came from
  • Try to put some sands on your GG screen, and you'll see. Well, i'm not encouraging you tho.
  • I work in construction and my screen would've been scratched with out it
  • Let me tell you why, because I drop my phone on the side walk and have scratches and when I called Nokia to ask if gorilla glass wasn't suppose to stand up to things like this they said no and things like having your phone in the same pocket as your keys because that might scratch your screen in not recommended
  • Its no possible to scratch Gorilla Glass with keys or any metal object because it is lower on the Mohs hardness scale. The only things that will scratch it are things the same or higher which means sand, stone, other gorilla glass (god forbid). If you take keys to your screen it appears to be scratched but after wiping it disappears.
  • Oh ok thanks. Learn something new everyday.
  • can I apply it on my face instead? I rather not put any of that stuff on my L920 :)
    (totally kidding btw)
  • Lolllll
  • I've noticed fleece(inside my goodies) is the best way, that I've personally used, to completely remove smudges in on my cell screen, do that first then wipe some rain-x on the screen with news paper. News paper leaves no streaks!!!
  • direct on the eyeballs, only way to get them smudges out.
  • For a screen projector I think a cloth lens cleaner would be more effective
  • I have a very simple way of keeping my phones screen clean. I clean it with that little soft towel that comes with any pair of glasses. And when one isn't available...the t-shirt will do lol
  • Micro fiber!
  • "I have a very simple way of keeping my phones screen clean. I clean it with that little soft towel that comes with any pair of glasses"
    Right but I note that using Rain X makes even doing this easier/more effective ;) Just saying...
  • Just an FYI - some people are allergic/sensitive to the chemicals in Rain-X. I have a friend who did this and she developed blisters on her fingertips within a couple days of doing this little trick. You can pretty easily find the ingredients on the net, so might be worth checking it out just to be safe.
  • Thanks! We should be aware!
  • You sure it wasn't because she used some knock-off brand, Rain-Z?
  • It's all qualitative information so far... Nothin concrete
  • I'd call it more ancedotal than anything but yeah, not really sure how you measure smudges on a scale of severity for a controlled experiment.  Either way, I had Rain X laying around and it cost me nothing to give it a go.
  • Anybody else notice that they have been sporting the ATIV S in a lot of their articles...I was going to get one....then I realized that I live in the "land of the free".  Turns out that just because you think your the best, doesn't necessarily make it so.
  • Buy it unlocked and go with an MVNO.  Do the math.  You'd be dumb not to.
  • Exactly what I did, and this Ativ S is one great phone!!!
  • Was going to do that but found the L920 for about 470 over at tigerdirect, and with the points I had accumulated on a credit card I was able to take off a huge portion of the price through the credits cards rewards program,  so for now the Ativ will have to wait.
  • Are there any products out there similar to rain x that are oleophobic and not hydrophobic? That would be a great product if it existed.
  • there's a product called Purple Slice and will resist oil better than Rain-X.  It's not cheap if this is your only application, however I think you'll find more uses than to keep your phone smudge free.
  • Thanks, but I'll stick to breathing on the screen and rubbing it on my sleeve.
    Nothing like rubbing poison all day.
  • eh, compared to what is in our food and water, this seems trivial. And it's not toxic, AFAIK. No warnings on the bottle.
  • ok fellows. use it. do not look on another side of bottle there warning about toxic. :-)
  • So I shouldn't drink it? (I just checked my bottle. No warnings about it being toxic. Citation?)
  • http://www.myombrello.ru/aboutombrello3.htm
  • http://a.d-cd.net/4d4214u-960.jpg
  • But that's not Rain X... Like I said, on the Rain X bottle there is no warnings about coming into contact, getting it on the skin or it being toxic. It just says don't put it in your eyes. 
  • However - it's chemistry is designed for the car. What will be in contact with the hands and the face does not even know your dermatologist. Why take the risk?
  • I'd rather continuously touch my own fingerprint oils than some chemical coating meant for car windows. I clean my display with a microfiber whenever I need and it stays clean enough..
  • I have the perfect cleaning solution for my Lumia 920: Jeans! I have the phone in my front jeans pocket, screen facing inward towards the soft pocket lining. And upside down of course, the way the phone ends up when your hand holding it drops naturally to your side.
    Each time I take it out it is highly polished like new. Taking it out I only grip it around the back so no fingers touch the glass inthe process. Levi's 501, although I'm certain it will work with other brands too. ;p
  • It only works on Levi's because they are the proprietary Jeans of WP.  Just like Wrangler is for Android.  You can't mix the two.  Someone had an Iphon and tried to mix it with a pair of Levis, and I was like "nooooo, it wont work!" and we just laughed about it for a while.  We're married now with 3 kids.
  • Has anyone tried the Fusso oleophobic stuff you can order from Amazon? I was thinking of getting the large bottle and do several phones.
  • Just ordered a kit for Tablets/Phone and will let you know.
  • How did that turn out?
  • Daniel, any news on the Luimia 620 review?  I'm really anxious to see it...
    In the last podcast you thought it would be out the next day... was a while ago...
    Love the site, thanks!
  • lol, yeah. almost done actually...finishing it up today.
  • *Rubbing hands with evil laugh*
  • Hmm, how toxic is this stuff?  Do you really want to be touching your RainX covered phone, eyes, mouth, and nose all day?
  • You get waaaaay more exposure when you apply it (even to your car) compared to once it is dried. Shoot, there's barely any on the screen and once it is dry I can't see how it is any more risky than getting it wet, on your hand. For the record there is no "toxic warning" on the lable and they don't tell you wear gloves, not to get it on your skin, ec.
  • Your tears will just glide off your face with such efficiency!
  • Walter, I like you.
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=IPM8OR6W6WE
  • http://www.myombrello.ru/aboutombrello3.htm
  • Its not gd for the phone in a long run. Great initially. But later you won't be able to clean off a weird film on your phone which makes it worse. With the harder surface of gorilla glass 2, you don't have a hard time keeping your glass screen clean compared to iPhone or non gorilla glass phones.
  • Is it healthy to be touching a chemical not Kent to be touched initially????
  • I have a smudge free screen protector on my 920 but my surface screen is one finger print magnet
  • I have a smudge free screen protector on my 920 but my surface screen is one finger print magnet. Do I dare try this?
  • I would like a natural product that accomplished this but I rather got without the chemicals--many of which we absorb through our skin, though I don't know if that is the case with Rain X.
  • Wow, don't people read prior comments before they post?
  • Can I have your Samsung.
  • My 920 stays pretty much smudge free since it gets cleaned naturally going in and out of my back pocket several dozen times a day.
    The same technique was not as affective on my old Focus. My theory is that the size if the 920 makes it more snug and more pressure is applied when it is removed ;). The curved glass helps a little too.
  • Hahah :D Use RainX and try this (or even without RainX)
  • This seems like a bad idea. I'd rather keep chemicals off my face. You're not even supposed to use Windex on smartphone screens so I can't imagine RainX is any better. I'll stick with my microfiber cloth and water. It works for me.
  • You want to clean glass, do a a Google search on how photographers clean their lenses. On light scratches, a headlight restore kit from a car parts store should work (for glass though, not plastic).
  • After reading all the posts about questions/worries I would not try this on my 8X. At least, until someone can verify that it doesn't add a coating on the screen after a while. This is my main concern. It can make the screen more light reflectant, opaque or worse.
  • Do you really want to put this chemical on the thing that you touch with your fingers all the time and your kids constantly playing with? No wonder 90% of north americans suffer from allergies.