How to Clean Your Phone
Elevator buttons, handrails, petrol pumps, door handles: it’s impossible to avoid germ-infested surfaces in our daily lives, that’s why it is essential to wash your hands regularly. But even if there is no way to guarantee that all public surfaces are regularly disinfected, there is a surface that regularly comes into contact with your hands and face that you to do have control over: your cell phone.
How dirty is the average phone? A 2017 study published in the journal Germs examined 27 teenage-owned phones and found that the screens harbored viruses and bacteria, including E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus, among other gooey germs.
- Research shows that your phone likely harbors viruses and bacteria.
- Experts say that in addition to washing your hands regularly, you should thoroughly clean your phone at least twice a week.
- The best way to disinfect a phone is to use a Lysol disinfectant wipe.
It should be noted that phones are not one of the main culprits in the spread of disease, but some viruses may stay longer than you think. Charles Gerba, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and bio-statistics in the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Arizona, says viruses can persist on hard surfaces from hours to weeks . “Most cold and flu viruses [can] survive from a few hours to up to 9 days, depending on temperature and relative humidity, “says Dr. Gerba.”[However] norovirus can survive on surfaces for up to four weeks. “
The CDC is still determining how long the current strain of coronavirus, COVID-19, can survive on surfaces, but recommended that people disinfect “high contact surfaces”. New research from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease suggests that the new coronavirus can live on surfaces for several days, according to a Reuters report. On plastic and stainless steel, a viable coronavirus could be detected after three days, research shows, while the cardboard did not contain live particles for more than 24 hours. Based on his own research, Gerba claims that viruses and bacteria can transfer from a phone to your hands and then return to new surfaces in your home and office (“It’s like a mobile germ device “, he says).
That said, Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, says that cleaning your phone shouldn’t be something that makes you sleep sleepy – but a regular disinfection routine could reduce your risk of coming into contact with germs, especially during flu season.
When it comes to cleaning your phone, the first rule is that you shouldn’t use the same astringent cleaners that you use to wipe down hard plastic and glass surfaces elsewhere in your home, like pure bleach, metal cleaners or specific bathroom cleaners for tiles or grout. “Never spray anything directly on the phone and avoid over-saturation, because you don’t want your phone to get wet,” advises Forte. “Also, avoid cleaners that advertise” scouring power “or something similar to abrasive.” Likewise, Apple is warning customers that heavy-duty commercial cleaning supplies can damage fingerprint-resistant coatings on its screens and possibly scratch windows, while Samsung has issued the same warning for its popular Galaxy models.
Below, Forte shares step by step instructions to safely clean your phone without ruining it.
How to clean and disinfect your phone:
How to Clean Your Phone
- Remove your phone case and turn off your device.
- Polish with a microfiber cloth. Gently wipe the outside of your phone with a clean microfiber cloth to get rid of stains and dirt. “This will physically kill the germs, due to the friction between the fabric and the glass surface,” says Forte. That doesn’t mean it will kill germs, but it will lift them from the surface – and microfiber does it better than a washcloth or paper towel, because the fibers have more surface area to trap dirt and absorb good fat.
- Then take a Lysol disinfectant wipe. Lysol products are marketed to buyers as safe for topical use on electronics, says Forte, adding that they will effectively neutralize the remaining germs. “If the wipe is excessively wet, wring it out first,” says Forte. Then gently wipe all the surfaces of your phone while avoiding the ports.
- Let your phone air dry for at least 5 minutes. Like most disinfectants, Lysol spray is most effective if it is left to air dry on surfaces for at least 10 minutes. But even if you don’t leave your phone wet for that long, “a Lysol wipe will greatly disinfect your phone,” says Forte, because the manufacturer says these wipes only need four minutes to disinfect.
- Look for a clean paper towel or microfiber cloth. Wipe off any moisture. Ideally, you should not use the same microfiber cloth as in step 2, but another that you recently washed with a laundry disinfectant (such as Lysol Laundry Sanitizer). “Some microfiber cloths can be laundered, but not all. Dirty cloths need to be cleaned regularly to avoid re-depositing dirt on surfaces and preventing the spread of germs,” says Forte. “Ordinary wash cloths can be washed with bleach. Ordinary and microfiber cloths can also be boiled for a few minutes.”
- Finally, clean your phone shell. Repeat the same process with your phone case, but note that you can use more astringent cleaners, since most phone cases are made of hard and durable plastic. Apple maintains that you should not use bleach on accessories that contain fabric or leather surfaces.
Can I use Clorox wipes on my phone?
Forte says most Clorox wipes should be safe to use on electronics, but she recommends Lysol products first, because the brand advertise easily that its cleaning wipes will not affect the quality of your smartphone screen. If you don’t have access to Lysol wipes, you can use a Clorox wipe – Apple has updated its advice to say that Clorox brand disinfectant wipes and other common disinfectants are safe to use on your phone. Or, you can try a mixture of mild soap and water applied to a microfiber cloth. “Soap and water will not be as effective as a wipe, but they can also reduce germs living on your phone if they are applied carefully the same way you would use a wipe,” says Forte.
You may also consider purchasing a screen protector. Not only can these covers help protect your phone screen if you drop it, but they can withstand powerful astringents, Clorox wipes, or most cleaners, as most models are made from glass or plastic alone (no stain-resistant layers that can dissolve).
How often should I clean my phone?
It may not be the answer you hope for, but Forte says wiping your cell phone quickly with a microfiber cloth is more effective if you do it daily. “You don’t need to clean deep every day, but I do keep a few microfiber cloths handy on my desk and at home, and I use them to quickly wipe dirt off my screen every day” , sharing Strong. “Especially during the colder months, I recommend using a Lysol wipe every other day or at least twice a week.”
If wiping your phone everyday seems like something you won’t remember, you can try harnessing the power of ultraviolet light. “UV light damages the nucleic acid of the virus, which makes it no longer infectious,” says Dr. Gerba, adding that the dose of UV light and its proximity to your phone determines how long you use it. Good HousekeepingAccording to Forte, products like PhoneSoap, a device that allows users to leave their phone in an enclosed space charged with UV light for 10 minutes, are available. But the two experts agree that washing your hands and using a disinfectant wipe to disinfect your phone is a better option than using UV light.
How to keep your cell phone clean:
Even if you take the time to clean your phone regularly, it can again be quickly exposed to germs and other harmful bacteria. What are the best ways to reduce the amount of ick your phone is exposed to? Here are some situations where your phone should stay firmly in your pocket.
- Avoid scrolling public transport. If you can manage it, avoid using your phone when traveling on public transportation, as the germs you come in contact with on railings and handles can easily be found on the phone screen. The best time to use your phone on the train, bus or ferry is when you are seated and do not grab a pole or handle.
- Leave the phone out of the bathroom. A 2018 survey found that 3 in 4 Americans text, call, or parade through the bathroom. And although you should wash your hands before and after using the toilet, there is a lot of research showing the number of harmful germs that lurk in bathrooms in general, which makes it easier to get them on your screen.
- Print your recipes. If you can ask your phone to read the instructions to you, this is a good alternative. Cross-contamination between your phone and kitchen surfaces can be easy if you cook with raw ingredients, including poultry, beef, pork and fish. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw ingredients while cooking, and you’ll also save your phone screen.
- Put it on at the gym. Placing your phone in an armband or safely in a utility pocket is a much better option than letting it rest on training equipment that may not have been thoroughly disinfected between uses.