By | November 12, 2023
Why do clear phone cases turn yellow and can you clean them?

Important takeaways

  • Clear smartphone cases allow you to protect your device and show off its color and design, but most clear cases yellow over time due to factors such as UV light, heat and natural oils.
  • You can slow down the yellowing process by exposing the phone to sunlight less often and temporarily removing the case when the phone is warm.
  • To clean a yellowed clear case, you can use rubbing alcohol, dish soap or baking soda, but these methods can only remove surface grease and oils, not the underlying yellow tint caused by UV light. Consider purchasing a clear polycarbonate case for better resistance to yellowing.

Clear smartphone cases are my top recommendation if you’re looking for protection as they allow you to protect your device while showing off its color and design. Clear cases have been around for quite some time, but they’re more popular than ever, given all the color options and unique designs you can get these days. Being able to show off the premium fit and finish of your amazing iPhone or Android phone is great, but most clear cases on the market will yellow over time.

Depending on the make and model of your case, it may either develop some yellow spots or turn completely yellow over time. However, this is a widespread problem with many factors contributing to this inevitable aging process. Thankfully, there is a way to slow down the process or “clean out” the yellow tint once it has formed.

Factors contributing to yellowing of clear cases

The materials used to make these cases play a big role in color shifting, and some of them are more resistant than others to this process. The cheap, soft silicone cases tend to deteriorate faster and see the most drastic color changes, often completely yellow. Here are some factors that contribute to the process:

Ultraviolet (UV) light

An image showing a clear casing exposed to sunlight.

A transparent case on a Galaxy S23 exposed to sunlight.

The ultraviolet (UV) light that comes into contact with your clear case when exposed to sunlight is one of the biggest culprits in turning your case yellow. The UV radiation results in a chemical reaction that accentuates the yellow color. Exposing your phone to sunlight less often will slow down aging, but it can’t be completely avoided for obvious reasons.


Similarly, exposing the case to heat will speed up the yellowing, so you may notice it more on phones that tend to run hotter. Temporarily removing the case while your phone is warm — whether it’s due to charging or just running some resource-intensive tasks — can help alleviate some of this problem, but you can’t avoid it entirely either . Likewise, heat from the sun or even from your hand holding the phone can contribute to this, so keep that in mind.

Natural oils from skin, sweat and fat

A clear case is shown with a bunch of fat fingerprints on it.

While we’re discussing unavoidable factors that contribute to yellowing of cases, it’s worth emphasizing that the natural oils from your body that come into contact with the case also contribute to the overall issue. I say inevitable because, yes, a phone comes into direct contact with your palm and face all the time, both of which are mostly covered in oils that accelerate the aging process. Similarly, sweaty and oily palms can also make matters worse.

Looking at all the contributing factors, it’s safe to say that there’s only so much you can do to prevent your phone’s clear case from turning yellow over time, so you should clean those that have already developed a yellow tint. If you don’t know where to start, below are some proven methods to get you started.

Ways to clean a clear case that has already turned yellow

Cleaning the housing surface using the methods below will only clean the build-up of removable grease or oils. This means that you cannot undo the irreversible damage that UV light does to it.

Cleaning spirit

One of the ways I clean my clear cases is by using rubbing alcohol. Adding a small amount to a paper towel or cleaning cloth and cleaning the case with it will help you get rid of some of the sweat and grease from the surface.

An image showing a bottle of Amazon Basics isopropyl alcohol.

Amazon Basics 70% Isopropyl Alcohol

$6 14 USD Save $8

Use small amounts of this solution to clean the surface of your electronics, displays, phone cases and more. Use it with a cleaning cloth for best results.

Cleaning with detergent

If you don’t have rubbing alcohol on hand, create a warm soapy solution with a little dish soap and water and use it to gently scrub the case. I recommend using a toothbrush to clean the gunk from the corners.

Uses baking powder

You can also try sprinkling some baking soda over your case to cover the yellow spots and then gently scrub it with a wet toothbrush. This method will leave you with a squeaky clean case, although it may not completely eliminate the yellow spots. You can also use toothpaste here as a substitute instead of baking soda to achieve similar results.

I tried cleaning a yellowed silicone clear case with a dish soap solution and some toothpaste, and while my case isn’t completely clear, it cleaned it up quite a bit. This is how it turned out:

Unfortunately, the effective ways to clean a yellowed clear case can only help clean out oil, sweat and grease, meaning that the underlying yellow tint resulting from UV light is largely irreversible. There is no way to stop or reverse the natural aging process, so you have no choice but to buy a new case if you want a completely clear finish.

Choose a polycarbonate transparent case instead

If you must buy a phone case with a clear back, I recommend sticking with some clear hard shell cases made of polycarbonate material. These cases tend to be more expensive, but they are more resilient than cheaper cases made from materials like silicone or acrylic. Brands like Supcase offer a variety of clear cases made from polycarbonate material. They are not completely immune to the problems caused by the natural aging process, but at least they will last you longer before you have to replace them.

An image showing the Supcase UB Pro clear case installed on an iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro case for iPhone 15 Pro Max

Marketed choice

In collaboration with Supcase

With a rugged shockproof case, an included glass screen protector and even a belt clip, the Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro offers complete protection for your smartphone. The clear version is made of polycarbonate and is available for different devices.

Case brands like Ringke also have good polycarbonate cases, but they only offer basic protection. I recommend turning to something like the Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro for the best protection if you want to show off your phone’s colors and want extras like a belt clip, stand, screen protector and more. Not to mention, you can also grab it in some solid colors.

You can also turn to something like the Dbrand Grip, which is quite customizable on the case and allows you to keep your phone fresh at all times.

A rendering of the Apple iPhone 14 Plus dbrand Grip case.

dbrand Grip for iPhone 15 Plus

Dbrand’s Grip cases are among the most durable and versatile cases available right now. Not only do you get to customize it with tons of different skins for a fresh look, but it also offers military-grade drop protection and a solid feel in your hand while maintaining a low profile.

An image showing the Ringke Fusion case for the iPhone 15 Pro.

Ringke Fusion case for iPhone 15 Pro

This clear case from Ringke is also made from a blend of polycarbonate and TPU, which means it won’t yellow as quickly as some other standard silicone cases do. It is also available for a bunch of devices.

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