As people grow more conscious about hand hygiene in the time of coronavirus, there's another potential germ carrier to keep in mind: your phone. Yes, you should sanitize your iPhone (or whatever model of phone you use), and it's pretty easy to do, according to healthcare and cleaning experts. Plus, you probably already have the necessary cleaning products on hand.
To be clear, phones can get pretty gross. "Just like any other object, a phone has an astronomical amount of bacteria on it and putting it directly on our face isn't the healthiest thing to do," Dr. Alain Michon, M.D., Medical Director at Ottawa Skin Clinic, tells Romper. And germs aren't the only thing that can hang out on your phone. "Cell phones are a hotspot for bacteria, facial oil, makeup, and other environmental pollutants to accumulate," Dr. Zain Husain, a dermatologist with NJ Dermatology and Aesthetics Center, tells Romper. But you can't toss your iPhone into the washing machine, so how are you supposed to clean it safely?
Recently, Apple announced that sanitizing wipes are OK to use on its products, which just might make cleaning your phone easier than ever. "Using a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your Apple product, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces," according to the Apple Support site.
And as it turns out, experts love this trick for keeping your phone sanitary. "Frequently sanitizing phones with alcohol-based towelettes or wipes can be helpful. I frequently use alcohol wipes or Lysol wipes in my office or at home to clean my phone," says Dr. Husain. Other healthcare experts support this idea. "Not only do these wipes help keep skin infections at bay, such as ringworm or other fungal infections that can be transferred by touch or person-to-person, but they can also assist with influenza and other illnesses," Todd Minars, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Minars Dermatology, tells Romper in an email. He recommends wiping the phone's entire surface and letting it dry. "That's a big caveat with these wipes (and disinfectant in general) is that they're most effective when they've been given an opportunity to dry naturally," says Dr. Minars. Just give everything a few seconds to dry, and your phone will be good to go.
In addition to using sanitizing wipes, here are some additional expert tips for keeping your phone as clean and microbe-free as possible. It's totally easy to clean the thing without damaging it or voiding that warranty.
1. Wash Your Hands
Soap and water great, even if you can't directly wash the phone itself. "However, if you're wondering how exactly you can limit these germs, you're best off to keep thoroughly washing your hands," says Dr. Michon. "If your hands are consistently clean, your phone will be as well, limiting the number of germs that touch your face." Here's how to care for your hands while following COVID-19 washing guidelines, because you don't have to use super-harsh soap all the time to get them clean.
2. Use A UV Phone Sanitizer
Let tech do the work for you. "I suggest using a UV light phone sanitizing device daily," says Dr. Michon. There are a few options available, including the phone sanitizer that uses UV light to get clean in only 10 minutes. (The version you might know from Shark Tank, Phone Soap, does appear to be currently sold out, although you can pre-order Phone Soap UV sanitizers for an April or May 2020 delivery, according to the company's website.)
3. Wash Your Phone Case
Maybe your case could use a quick bath. "While your phone can't get wet, your case most likely can. At least once a week (or every night before bed... ), remove the case from your phone and wash it in very hot, soapy water. Allow it to dry completely before placing back on your phone," Kait Schulhof, blogger at A Clean Bee, tells Romper. It's a simple way to keep at least part of your phone super-clean.
4. Avoid Certain Household Cleaners
There are definitely some cleaning supplies that should stay far away from your phone. "You shouldn't use products you use to clean your home on your phone. For example, heavy-duty commercial cleaners, bleach, vinegar etc., as they can cause damage to the device," as Dean Davies, cleaning supervisor for Fantastic Services, tells Romper in an email. Instead, Davies recommends — you guessed it — disinfectant wipes, in particular those that contain approximately 70% isopropyl alcohol. Another convenient, phone-specific option: The HÄNS Swipe ($15, Hans-Swipe), a portable cleaning device filled with microfiber cleaning sheets and a cleaning solution that's free of harsh chemicals and safe for phones (and good for hundreds of swipes, apparently). As everybody gets into the habit of frequent hand-washing, phone-wiping can become more standard, too.
Dr. Zain Husain, a dermatologist with NJ Dermatology and Aesthetics Center
Dean Davies, cleaning supervisor for Fantastic Services