How Do I Remove Screen Protectors?

By Carol Finch ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Toothpick
  • Credit card or piece of flexible plastic
  • Sticky tape or duct tape
  • Soft cloth
You can apply screen protectors to phones, tablets and portable touch-screen devices.

Although sticking a layer of film on a screen sounds easy, applying a screen protector -- and taking it off again -- can be frustrating. If you don't align the protector correctly or if you end up with bubbles or dust under it, you may need to take it off and start over. You might decide to change to a new protector if your current one is scratched or starts to look tired. Typically, removing a screen protector is easier than putting one on -- you just lift up an edge and peel it off. Screen protectors are thin, flimsy and meant to stick. If your protector is not following the lift-and-peel rule, find an alternative way to unstick the unstickable, ideally without scratching your screen.

Check that you have a screen protector on your device. It's possible to apply a protector and then take it off again without realizing it. Some protectors have an extra layer of film on top of the protective screen that you remove at the end of the application process. If your screen protector is thin and hasn't stuck to the device correctly, you may not notice if it attaches to the top layer and peels off with it -- you may think it's on the screen, but it's not. If you can't peel a protector off easily, it's worth checking if it is actually there. Look for a border around the screen or bubbles and dust spots. If you can see the protector, start the removal process.

Examine the screen from all angles. Look for weak spots around the edges of the screen protector and around uncovered areas such as your microphone receiver or camera lens. You're looking for air bubbles or spots where the protector doesn't fit or stick. If you find a weak spot, gently use your fingernail or a wooden toothpick to pull up the protector. If the weak spot is on the corner or edge of the screen, try pushing it up with a credit card or a piece of flexible -- but not sharp -- plastic. If this doesn't work, reach for some sticky tape.

Attach one end of a piece of sticky tape to a corner of the device's screen. Push the tape down firmly, so it sticks to the screen protector, and pull it up. The tape may bring the protector with it as you pull, and you can then peel it off. If this doesn't work, give it another couple of tries with some fresh tape and test out different corners to see if you can find one where the protector is weaker. If sticky tape doesn't work, try a stronger tape, such as duct tape.

Clean the screen as soon as you take off the protector to remove any residue or dust spots. You'll get the most effective clean with a soft nonabrasive cloth -- ideally one that is lint-free. If you'll be applying a new screen protector, a soft cloth may have been included in the pack.

Tip

If you want to reapply a screen protector after removing it, go straight to the sticky-tape method. If you use your nails or a piece of plastic to lift the screen protector off, you may bend it or leave oily marks on the underside of the protector. This makes it harder to put it back on again cleanly and effectively.

If you're removing a protector to deal with dust bubbles, use tape to lift it up and then wrap a piece of tape around your finger to dab the dust off. If you just use your finger, you'll smear the screen.

If you find it tricky to install a screen protector without bubbles, try the sticky-tape "hinge" method. Put two pieces of tape on the back of a side of the device, leaving enough tape to go round to the front. Flip the device over and align the protector -- don't remove the backing yet -- on the screen. Push the tape ends over the front of the protector and flip it off the screen to the side. Clean the screen, and when you're ready, peel off the backing and fold the protector onto the screen. If you have bubbles, work them out with a credit card or the piece of plastic that came in the protector's pack. When you're done, remove the protective top layer and the tape.

Warning

Don't use anything metal or sharp to remove a screen protector and don't apply heat. You may scratch or damage your device.

Don't apply liquids directly to screens. If you have stubborn marks on a screen, rub them with a slightly damp soft cloth.

About the Author

Carol Finch has been writing technology, careers, business and finance articles since 2000, tapping into her experience in sales, marketing and technology consulting. She has a bachelor's degree in Modern Languages, a Chartered Institute of Marketing.certificate and unofficial tech and gaming geek status with her long-suffering friends and family.