The coronavirus disease has spread to over 185 countries. More than 2.4 million people have been infected with coronavirus, and the number is increasing by the day. People around the world have been told to maintain social distancing, wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, and to clean frequently used surfaces often.
While we’re all trying to follow the guidelines to keep ourselves free from the coronavirus by cleaning tabletops, doorknobs, and keyboards, one surface that we often forget to clean is our smartphone. We pick up our smartphones hundreds of times a day, and it often touches our faces. Read on to know why it is essential to clean your smartphone and how to sanitize it properly.
Why should you clean your smartphone?
Studies have shown that coronaviruses can persist on surfaces like metal, plastic, or glass for up to nine days (1). This virus may be transferred to your phone when an infected person coughs or sneezes nearby. You can also transfer this virus to your phone with your own hands when you touch a contaminated surface like a doorknob or elevator buttons and then touch your phone.
- Suggested read: Learn About the Novel Coronavirus Spread and Protection
You should also remember that when you talk on the phone, it touches your ear and your face. It is better to disinfect your phone regularly to avoid getting infected with the new coronavirus.
Isn’t washing your hands enough?
You may be wondering that if you wash your hands regularly with soap and water, is it essential to disinfect your phone. In an ideal scenario, if you wash your hands before you touch your phone, the virus will not be transferred to your phone. However, it is impractical to wash your hands every time before you reach for your phone.
According to a recent survey by the research firm dscout, an average person touches his smartphone 2,617 times every day (2). Now, can you imagine washing your hands 2,617 times a day? It doesn’t seem very practical. It would be far smarter to clean your phone and disinfect it every day.
How to clean your phone?
While it is essential to clean your phone during the current times, you cannot use the same household cleaners that you use for other surfaces around the house. Most common household cleaners contain ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or sodium hypochlorite. Amongst these, isopropyl alcohol is the least damaging to your phone. The other products may damage the oleophobic coating on your phone. The oleophobic coating is put on the screens of smartphones so that you can slide your finger on the screen without leaving fingerprints all over it.
You should avoid pouring disinfectants into the openings of the smartphone, even if it is waterproof. Take a cotton pad and put some disinfectant on it and wipe the sides of the smartphone. Do not press too hard, wipe carefully. Many manufacturers, including Apple and Samsung, have provided specific instructions to keep their devices clean during coronavirus.
Apple has recently changed its advice against using disinfectants on phones. It now says that you can use 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfectant Wipes to clean the hard, nonporous surface of your Apple product. It also advises you against using bleach or submerging your Apple product in any cleaning agent. It also informs you to avoid getting moisture in any opening. Apple recommends the following guidelines for cleaning its products (3) –
- Use only a soft, lint-free cloth. Avoid abrasive materials, towels, paper towels, or material that are similar.
- Avoid too much wiping, as it might cause damage.
- You must unplug all the external power sources before you clean the phone.
- Keep all liquids away from the product, unless it is otherwise noted for specific products.
- Don’t get moisture into any openings.
- Don’t use aerosol sprays, bleaches, or abrasives.
- Don’t spray cleaners directly onto the item.
Samsung recommends the following guidelines for cleaning its Galaxy phones (4) –
- Use a lint-free, soft microfiber cleaning cloth for cleaning cloth. You can also use a camera lens cleaning cloth. These fabrics are gentle and do not damage your phone.
- Wipe the back and the front of your phone gently with the microfiber cloth. Don’t apply excessive pressure.
- You should also avoid getting excessive moisture onto your device. However, you can use a microfiber cloth dampened with distilled water to clean your phone.
- You can also use a disinfectant, such as a hypochlorous acid-based solution (containing 50-80 ppm) or an alcohol-based solution (containing more than 70% ethanol or isopropyl alcohol).
- You should not apply these solutions directly to your phone; apply them carefully to a microfiber cloth and then use it on your phone.
- Avoid using cans of compressed air to clean, as they can damage the phone surface.
- Do not clean your phone with spray bleach.
Do UV light-based phone sanitizers work?
As people around the world are trying to stop the spread of coronavirus, many are turning to phone sanitizers to clean their phones. Devices like PhoneSoap 3.0, CareBox, and Mobitizer use UV light to kill bacteria on the phone.
According to experts, the UV light spectrum has UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C lights. Only the UV- C light is effective in killing germs. The UV-C light interferes and destroys the nucleic acids of bacteria and other microbes. Though some studies have shown that these devices can kill common household germs that lead to staph, common cold, flu, E. Coli, and salmonella, there is no study to show that they are effective against coronavirus.
How often should you clean your phone?
The answer to this question depends on your lifestyle and personal habits. If your job requires you to go out every day, you should clean your phone once you come back home. This process may sound tedious, but it takes just a few minutes, and it is well worth your time.
If you wash your hands regularly with soap or water, you can clean your phone once a day. If you have put your phone down on a surface that could be contaminated or you are not that diligent about washing your hands, you need to clean your phone more often.
What areas of the phone do people commonly miss while cleaning their phone?
Many people forget to take off their phone cases when cleaning their phones. Germs that are present in the corners of the cover then escape the cleaning process. You must remove the phone cover and clean it separately by washing it in warm water. Take a Qtip to clean the corners and the grooves on the case. Clean your phone with an antiseptic phone wipe. Another area that people forget to clean is the camera lens and its edges. Not only will your phone be germ-free, but even your pictures will also come out brighter.
According to the WHO, people should clean their hands with soap and water and sanitize surfaces that are frequently used to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection. According to a study from The University of Arizona, your phone has ten times more germs than most toilet seats (5). Your phone is exposed to germs and viruses through your hands and the surfaces on which you keep it. So, it is essential to clean your phone regularly and thoroughly.