With the COVID-19 outbreak continuing to grow around the world, the main form of defence against the virus recommended by most experts, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO), is to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
But what about your smartphone? After all, the device is always in your hands, placed on multiple surfaces throughout the day, and in some cases, even comes along on trips to the bathroom (you know it’s true). Also, if you use your phone to make calls throughout the day, it’s often touching your face.
While it might seem obvious to some, many don’t realize that their smartphone is a haven for bacteria and viruses. In fact, there is even some data that suggests smartphones carry more germs than a toilet seat. This means that next to washing your hands, cleaning your smartphone is another important measure to take when it comes to protecting yourself and others against the spread of illness, especially given experts aren’t entirely sure how long COVID-19 is capable of living on surfaces.
While prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Apple said that using disinfecting wipes on your smartphone could potentially damage your device, the tech giant has changed its tune entirely. Apple recently updated its device cleaning tutorial page to state that 70 percent isopropyl and Clorox wipes are fine to use on the iPhone and iPad. The United States’ Centre For Disease Control (CDC) recommends that alcohol-based hand cleaner should contain at least 60 percent alcohol to be effective, so it’s likely safe to apply the same logic to wipes.
Apple advises people to wipe their device gently and not to submerge it in any kind of cleaner. Opting for a soft cloth like the ones included in screen cleaning kits, or a piece of paper towel, is likely your best bet when it comes to wiping down the device. Further, you can use Q-tips dipped in isopropyl to clean hard to reach places, like around a smartphone’s charging port. It’s worth noting that it’s important to clean both your smartphone and its case.
While Apple’s cleaning method can be applied to nearly any smartphone, Google does officially note you should only use “ordinary household soap or cleaning wipes” on your device. On the other hand, Samsung recommends wet wipes, as well as frequently washing your hands to keep the device virus and bacteria free.
In an interesting turn of events, Samsung says that paper towel can potentially scratch its smartphones, and that it doesn’t leave “your phone as clean as a lint-free cloth would.” While the latter part of this statement is undoubtedly accurate, I’ve been cleaning Samsung smartphones with paper towel for years and have never caused a scratch.
Beyond cleaning your smartphone daily by hand, there’s also a company called PhoneSoap that sells several sizes of devices that clean and sanitize smartphones with UV light. For example, the cheapest option, the PhoneSoap 3, is priced at $79.99 USD (about $109 CAD) plus the cost of shipping.
Samsung is also offering a free ‘Galaxy Sanitizing Service‘ that seems to utilize a UV device similar to PhoneSoap (it’s possible the service actually uses PhoneSoap’s products) to clean smartphones with ultra-violet light. The service is available at Samsung experience stores. There are even several screen protectors and phone cases from manufacturers like InvisibleShield and Gear4 that feature antimicrobial technology.
All that said, the best option when it comes to keeping your smartphone clean is to still just wipe your device down with an alcohol wipe.