With the spread of the novel coronavirus across the world, people are more concerned than ever with staying clean and germ-free. Also, people know that their smartphones and other devices can carry more than a few germs, making it important to clean those gadgets every now and again.
Studies have found that the novel #coronavirus may be able to survive on some surfaces for up to nine days, & that may include your beloved phone. It could easily transfer from your phone to your skin. So clean your #smartphones with disinfectant wipes regularly. Be safe. pic.twitter.com/qwwRUbyJlD
— Sangeetha Mobiles (@SangeethaMobile) March 18, 2020
But how should you be cleaning your smartphone or tablet? And how worried should you be about catching or spreading a virus-like COVID-19 via your trusty smartphone in the first place? Here’s what the experts say.
Disinfecting wipes are fine, mostly
Studies have shown everything from staph to e. Coli can thrive on your smartphone’s glass screen. COVID-19, meanwhile, can survive on surfaces for anywhere from a few hours to over a week, depending on conditions.
If you’re in the mood to kill those germs, some alcohol can’t hurt. At least, it can’t hurt now, as companies like Apple have recently changed their position on using alcohol-based wipes and similar disinfecting products on their devices.
In Apple’s case, it still recommends using a slightly damp lint-free cloth to wipe your device clean. But it has changed its previous advice to avoid disinfectants — instead of warning against harsh chemicals, claiming the products may strip the oil-repellent “oleophobic” coating on your phone, Apple now says those problematic wipes are in the clear.
— India TV (@indiatvnews) March 13, 2020
“Using a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the exterior surfaces of your iPhone,” Apple says on its updated support page. “Don’t use bleach. Avoid getting moisture in any openings, and don’t submerge your iPhone in any cleaning agents.”
Wash your hands, not your smartphone
Experts say that keeping your phone clean won’t matter much if you’re not practicing good hygiene in other ways. So remember to wash your hands regularly, don’t touch your face, and so on.
“For sure, if you’re worried about your phone, you can sanitize your phone,” says Dr. Donald Schaffner, professor at Rutgers University’s Department of Food Science and co-host of Risky or Not, a podcast about “everyday risks from germs.” “But more importantly, stay away from sick people, and wash and sanitize your hands. Those are probably going to do a lot more to reduce your risk than sanitizing your phone.”
You don’t need a UV light
Should you invest in one of those cool UV phone sanitizers you’ve probably in your Instagram ads? Probably not. UV light has been effective against some other viruses, but we don’t yet know how it might affected COVID-19. And these gadgets are pretty expensive considering that cheap alcohol wipes do the job just fine. “If you think it’s cool and want to buy one, go for it,” says Schaffner. “But please don’t buy one because you think it’s better than other technology.”