My cell phone lens that looks dirty; or, I'm not even sure it qualifies as a lens — it's the transparent cover. See the photo below.

I'm not sure if the lens was always like this or it happened at some point after I got it. It looks dirty and impossible to clean. I tried using lens cleaner (alcohol?) and some paper I bought for cleaning the lens of my DSLR, as well as just rubbing it out with my t-shirt (hey! it's just a cell phone camera):

enter image description here

Any ideas what to do about it?

  • 7
    I vote cell phone cameras are 100% on topic!
    – dpollitt
    Aug 30 '11 at 13:36
  • So the things you tried didn't work? Does the gunk appear to be under the cover, or does it appear that the surface is damaged? It's hard for me to tell from the photo.
    – mattdm
    Aug 30 '11 at 14:14
  • What sort of 'phone is it?
    – vlad259
    Aug 30 '11 at 16:15
  • 1
    It's definitely an HTC, possibly a desire.
    – Matt Grum
    Aug 30 '11 at 17:56
  • 1
    It doesn't look on top of the cover. If I had to guess I said it's inside two glasses. Yeah, the pic is not the best, it's hard to show it.
    – pupeno
    Aug 30 '11 at 21:42

The back cover of the HTC Desire (which this appears to be) is replaceable, which is good because apparently this is a really common problem with this model, and apparently newer models aren't much better.

HTC tells you how to take it off on their web site (it's easy). I'd first try doing that and then using a plastic scratch-remover/polisher on the cover. Not really great for quality optics, but that's not what we're talking about here in any case. If that fails -- or, actually, if the cleaning solution is more than a few bucks and you don't have any on hand -- replacing the back cover with a new OEM version should only cost about $3. (Many options on Amazon.)

It's two years since this question was asked and you may not even have this phone anymore, but I was reminded of this by comments about the iPhone 5's sapphire crystal lens cover, and I came across these instructions for replacing the HTC's scratched lens with a sapphire crystal.


I used to get this problem on Nokia 'phones that I had. With those, if you popped the cover off you could get to the underneath of the plastic cover which is where all the dust had collected.

  • It looks more like liquid between two glasses than dust (in the pic looks like glass... I don't have a proper macro lens and even then it's a tough pic to take for this amateur). I'm going to try to find out where I can find another cover before I try to pop it out. Thanks for the advice.
    – pupeno
    Aug 30 '11 at 21:41

I had the same problem. I cleaned with toothpaste. take matchstick and soft paper,unwrap on stick and take a small drop of toothpaste,clean for 5-10 min. after that clean with new soft paper and that's it. Here's my image:

after / before

  • Good stuff! Toothpaste is a mild abrasive and works wonders for cleaning a large number of things! I cleaned a boat with it once! :D
    – NULLZ
    Aug 10 '13 at 15:47

I would try the Nikon Lens Pen that you can find on Amazon here. It has a brush to wipe away dust or loose particles, and it also has a pad on the other side that uses a graphic reservoir to clean off smudges and finger prints.

If your cell phone "lens" is made of plastic, these options probably aren't going to work. At that point you could look for a plastic polisher, which I am not familiar with.

  • I do have a brush like that, but that is having no effect.
    – pupeno
    Aug 30 '11 at 13:46
  • Do you have the brush similar to a paint brush, or a brush similar to the graphite pad? The pad + graphite is what does the real work.
    – dpollitt
    Aug 30 '11 at 13:48

The lens cover on my Desire looks pretty much the same, only not quite so severe.

I found this thread, where there are some suggestions. Some interresting were toothpaste, brass cleaner, replacing the entire back cover, and ripping out the lens cover out of the back cover.

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