You use your phone for several hours a day, including when you’re checking your shopping list at the store. And studies have found the novel coronavirus may be able to survive on some surfaces for up to and maybe even longer than nine days -- and that includes your beloved phone. This is the device you handle constantly and often press to the side of your face, which means that any bacteria, virus or other germ that makes its way onto your phone or case could easily transfer to your skin.
Washing your hands the right way can help keep you and your loved ones from transmitting the virus, but what about cleaning your phone? The good news is that disinfecting your electronic device has officially become easier. Apple says on its website that you can safely clean your iPhone with disinfectant wipes, like Clorox sheets. Samsung added to its website you can use an alcohol-based solution (70%) and apply it to your phone with a microfiber cloth.
However, there are still cleaning agents and techniques to avoid. While you might initially see good results, these harsher methods can eventually damage the screen (or possibly the internal components) that you’re working so hard to protect. We’re going to tell you what products to avoid and the best ways to disinfect your phone and clean off fingerprint smudges, sand and lint from the ports and tenacious makeup off the screen (hint: never with makeup remover). We also tell you how to care for phones rated for water-resistance. And here are nine more practical tips you can use to help limit your exposure to coronavirus.
Disinfect your phone: Wipes, not pure alcohol
If you touch your phone after touching a public door handle or grocery cart, you may immediately think to clean it with rubbing alcohol. Don’t. Straight alcohol can strip the oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings that keep oil and water from damaging your display and other ports.
Some websites suggest creating a mix of alcohol and water yourself, but it’s crucial to get the concentration right. Get it wrong and you could damage your phone. The safest bet is to use disinfectant wipes that contain 70% isopropyl alcohol to clean your phone screen.
In the past, we were instructed to not use disinfectant wipes on our phone screens, but now Apple says it’s OK to use Clorox Wipes and others with similar concentrations.
AT&T’s recently revised cleaning guidelines suggest that you “spray a nonabrasive or alcohol-based (70% isopropyl) disinfectant directly on a soft lint-free cloth and wipe down your device while it is powered down and unplugged.” An earlier version of the company’s post suggested using paper towels, which are far too abrasive (see below). After we reached out, AT&T has since changed its post to reflect the soft cloth. Samsung has also recently said you can create an alcohol-based solution of 70% ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, applied with a microfiber cloth.
Another option for day-to-day cleaning is investing in a UV light, such as PhoneSoap. This UV light company claims to kill 99.99% of germs and banishes bacteria. As far as we know, it hasn’t been tested in relation to this strain of coronavirus.