If there’s one thing we’ve learned in 2020, it’s that our health is closely tied to things we touch throughout the day. And what’s the one thing we touch more than a few times a day? Our phones! Or as the Journal of Hospital Infection refers to them, our portable Petri dishes.
Phones fall on bathroom floors. They come into contact with tiny droplets from sneezes and coughs, and encounter every type of germ a person’s hand does. But unlike the hands, phones are impossible to wash with soap and water.
Therefore, cell phones are a potentially dangerous source of viruses including Streptococcus, MRSA, E. coli COVID-19; bacteria, and other pathogens. And according to this study—at least 10 times more germs than a toilet seat. Gross!
It’s not certain how long viruses survive on surfaces, but the World Health Organization reports it may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions such as the type of surface, temperature, or humidity of the environment but just think now how often you touch your phone.
If there’s the slightest possibility that a surface has been infected, err on the side of caution and clean it with simple disinfectant to kill viruses and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. And for goodness’ sake, clean your phone!
What not to do
When it comes to disinfecting your phone and other electronic gear, you want to kill viruses and bacteria without doing harm or voiding your phone or device warranty. That means no dripping antibacterial wipes. Do not use a prohibited cleaner or do not spray anything directly on the device.
Disinfect phone basics
Follow these basic instructions for how to clean your phone, screens, keyboards and other electronic gadgets
- Always unplug the phone or device before attempting to clean it.
- Prepare a dry, soft cloth or open a packaged alcohol wipe designed for eyeglasses cleaning. Never use paper materials like tissues, napkins, or paper towels. The paper contains wood pulp that can leave scratches and permanent marks.
- Cleaning instructions vary from one manufacturer to another. If in doubt, consult the manufacturer’s website.
- Allow the disinfectant to air dry on the surface for at least 10 minutes before you wipe down it with a soft, clean towel.
- Clean frequently used phones, devices, and keyboards twice a day.
How to disinfect iPhone
Apple has just updated its support page to say that you can clean your iPhone with 70% isopropyl alcohol poured or sprayed onto a clean, soft cloth, alcohol wipes, or Clorox disinfectant wipes. Use only a soft, lint-free cloth. Avoid abrasive cloths, towels, paper towels, or similar items.
- Avoid excessive wiping, which might cause damage.
- Unplug all external power sources, devices, and cables.
- Keep liquids away from the product, unless 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.
How to disinfect Android, Pixel
For the Pixel 3a and other Android phones, Google recommends screen disinfecting wipes or eyeglasses cleaner on the screen and ordinary household soap or cleaning wipes, as needed. There are no restrictions on alcohol-based wipes.
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How to disinfect computers, tablets, keyboards, remote controls, mouses
- Unplug and remove batteries, if any.
- Spray 70% isopropyl alcohol on a cloth, never on the screen, keyboard or device.
- If using an alcohol wipe, make sure it is not dripping wet. Wring it out a bit first as necessary, then proceed. You do not want to drip liquid into any openings, especially a keyboard.
- Consider a wipeable cover for your laptop keyboard so you can disinfect it without suffering potential harm to the keyboard itself.
These EPA-approved disinfectants are good options for cleaning phones, devices, screens, remote controls, and keyboards.
- SNiPER Hospital Disinfectant
- Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol 70%
- Alcohol Wipes
- Clorox Clean-Up with Bleach
- Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
- Lysol Disinfectant Spray