Coronavirus continues to spread around the world, and if you’ve been following news of COVID-19, you’ve likely heard the frequent reminders about washing your hands, covering your coughs and other good hygiene habits.
One item missing from the warnings? Your phone. According to an analysis from the Journal of Hospital Infection, coronaviruses and other germs can live on surfaces like glass, metal or plastic for up to nine days. And phones are known to be more bacteria ridden than toilet seats.
That means no matter how much hand washing and sanitizing you do, if you turn around and pick up an unclean phone right away, you are potentially exposing yourself to those same germs you just got rid of. In fact, Singapore Ministry of Health’s director of medical services, Kenneth Mak, told reporters at a press conference that cleaning mobile phones was a more important preventative measure than wearing face masks.
You don’t want to accidentally damage your expensive mobile device while trying to clean it, and many common cleaning products can do just that. But there is a right way to clean and disinfect your phone.
First, clean the screen and surface. Here’s what you need:
- Microfiber cloth
Here’s what to do, as recommended by Apple and Samsung:
- Unplug all cables and turn off your iPhone.
- Remove any case or covering on the device.
- Wipe the screen and surfaces with a soft, slightly damp, lint-free microfiber cloth.
- If your device is still visibly dirty or germs are of concern, use a soft, lint-free cloth with warm soapy water.
- Wipe down your phone’s screen with rubbing alcohol or a disinfectant wipe. This can damage your device’s screen and remove the coating that protects your device from oils and grease.
- Let any water or moisture into openings, like the charging port, speakers, mute switch or elsewhere.
If your device has any case or covering, it’s important to clean that too. Refer to the case’s packaging or informational materials for proper cleaning. Normal household cleaners may be safe to use on only the case. Make sure the case is dry before putting it back on your device. If your phone’s case is dirtier than you care to admit, you might consider just getting a new one.
If you want to truly disinfect your device, however, household cleaners, aerosol sprays, solvents and other cleaners could be damaging. Instead, these ultraviolet light cleansers are specifically designed to keep your phone germ free by bathing it in UV rays. Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation is an established and effective method of disinfection:
- Phone Soap $79.95
- Pur Phon-itizer $49.99
- UV-CLEAN Phone Sanitizer by HoMedics $79.99
- Lifestyle by Focus Smartphone UV Sanitizer $49.99
There are some basic behaviors you can start adopting to help keep your phone germ free as well. First, as recommended by the CDC, wash those hands regularly, especially before picking up your device.
If you’re on your phone constantly (a 2019 survey found we touch our phones on average 2,617 times per day) and can’t be bothered with constant trips to the sink, frequent hand sanitizer use is an acceptable backup option. The CDC recommends using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content. This recipe makes a sanitizer with 60.66% alcohol content if your local stores are sold out.
If you make a lot of calls, consider using earbuds, like Apple’s AirPods or Samsung Galaxy Buds, which can help keep your hands off your phone and away from your face. It’s also safe to clean them with isopropyl alcohol (as long as you don’t get it inside any openings) unlike your phone.
Don’t use your phone on the toilet. One survey found 88 percent of people have admitted to doing so, but a report from the Chinese Center for Disease Control suggests that coronavirus may have been able to spread so quickly because it’s been “transmitted through the potential fecal-oral route.”