What is an Oleophobic Coating?

what is oleophobic coating

by Alex Gustman

Updated: July 5, 2021

Oleophobic coating is often found in the characteristics list of most smartphones from different price segments. The oleophobic coating can repel moisture and other liquids, but users are often unaware of its presence or are skeptical. So what is the oleophobic coating, and why do I need it?

Read also, does your phone need a screen protector?

Oleophobic coating composition

Oleophobic or hydrophobic coating – a film of nanometer thickness that prevents the penetration of moisture. The discovery was patented in mid-2005 by three German inventors. The original composition includes three ingredients: alkyl-silicone, silicone, and solvent. Modern variations may contain different additives in different percentages to improve overall performance.

oleophobic coating in use

Read also, How to Apply Oleophobic Coating on Phone?

How does oleophobic coating work?

Once applied to the screen and dry, the oleophobic liquid creates a thin protective layer of 2-3 or more nanometers. The thicker the layer, the higher the efficiency and service life of this coating. Drops of water, oil, or other liquid are collected in beads and can be easily removed when exposed to oleophobic coating. More often than not, it is sufficient to tilt the treated surface to remove moisture – the liquid droplets will roll down.

The hydrophobic coating reduces the formation of dirty and sweaty fingerprints. Smeared on the screen fingerprints are not so visible, and to remove them is enough a few movements of a dry cloth. In addition, the formed film facilitates the slip of your finger, which is relevant for touchscreen devices. In general, the touchscreen with the oleophobic coating looks more aesthetically pleasing.

oleophobic coating repels water

Oleophobic coating durability

The service life of a hydrophobic coating is affected by the thickness of the layer, the composition, and quality of the components, as well as the frequency of friction on the coating. Therefore, once applied, oleophobic coating can work from several days to several months. For example, a high-quality oleophobic coating on smartphone glass retains its original properties for 2-3 weeks, but with regular friction on the coating – less than a week.

Read also, How to Tell If Oleophobic Coating is Gone?

How to restore oleophobic coating?

It is impossible to restore the original hydrophobic layer, as only the smartphone manufacturer has the appropriate coating available. Therefore, as an alternative, users use oleophobic coating from third parties, which can be purchased at a nearby store or ordered online.

liquid film

Most often, you can find bags with gel, which is silicon dioxide. The gel applied to the touchscreen dries out, after which a firm surface with oleophobic properties is formed. 

liquid film application

Manufacturers and retailers promise that the oleophobic coating prevents the formation of scratches on the screen from sharp objects such as knives, keys, coins, etc.. But how effective is it? Users say that oleophobic coating does not significantly increase screen protection from scratches by sharp objects.

liquid film polishing

Another way is to apply a protective film or tempered glass with oleophobic spraying. The screen protector is mounted on the cleaned surface of the screen and additionally protects the screen from external mechanical damage.

When using oleophobic coating, it is worth clarifying its composition, in particular the extent to which the substance is safe for human health. 

Where is the oleophobic coating used?

Oleophobic treatment is actively used in smartphones, tablets, and other portable electronics. But hydrophobic coating is also applied to shoes and clothing to repel dirt and water. For the same purpose, umbrellas, tarpaulins, and hinges are treated to accelerate drying. Hydrophobic protection is used by motorists to improve visibility in the rain.

Read also, what is the best type of screen protector?

Video about oleophobic coating


Is oleophobic coating worth it?

The oleophobic coating effectively repels water and helps your finger glide easily across the screen. However, the oleophobic coating cannot completely hide greasy fingerprints. Therefore, it is sometimes necessary to clean the screen with a cloth.

How long does oleophobic coating last?

Usually a few weeks or months. With heavy use of the mobile device, the oleophobic coating will wear off more quickly. Some smartphones may have a lower quality coating, in which case it will wear off even faster.

Does screen protector remove oleophobic coating?

Every case is different. If the protective glass has been in use for a long time and is difficult to remove, it is likely that the structure of the oleophobic coating may be damaged.

Can oleophobic coating be reapplied?

Treatment with certain agents or the application of liquid glass can restore the oleophobic coating. However, the new composition may be inferior to the factory-applied coating.

Does oleophobic coating wear off?

The oleophobic coating is a thin film. Use of aggressive cleaning agents and regular rubbing with the finger will gradually wear away and destroy the oleophobic coating.

What is oleophobic coating made of?

The composition of the liquid coating may vary, but usually a mixture of alkylsilane, silicone and solvent in a certain ratio is used.

Is oleophobic coating safe?

Oleophobic coating is safe and cannot harm your finger as you swipe the screen of your phone. Of course, the oleophobic coating is not intended to be consumed internally.


The article describes in detail what an oleophobic coating is. It is a layer of special grease that is applied to a smartphone touchscreen to improve finger sliding and reduce the formation of dirty traces during friction. Hydrophobic coating is not durable and will eventually be erased. So you should periodically apply a new layer of oleophobic liquid to your smartphone screen if you want to take advantage of what it gives you.

Read also, Hydrogel screen protector

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About the author 

Alex Gustman

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