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With the Curves of Coronavirus rocketing straight up still, we are all looking for ways to further reduce the chance of contracting the Virus. Rightfully so, the best strategy to surviving this is not to catch it. I dove deep to research and summarize two main points for us. First, how can I properly clean my phone or tablet without damaging it. Second, how likely is it that I would even catch any kind of virus (including COVID-19) from my phone or other device. Well it can be said that our phone is a third hand, we take it everywhere we go like trains, toilets and other public spaces. We set it down without really thinking too much about it and handle it most when we eat or get cozy in our bed. Often times we also pass our phone to other people to check something out or enter in something for us. With all this in mind, my results may surprise you.
The news here is good, as it is relatively cheap and easy to to find and use products that will be very effective to disinfect our phones. The two real dangers of damage we need to avoid are getting moisture into charging ports, earphone ports and speakers as well as making sure to do our best not to strip the oil-repellent “oleophobic” coating on our phones. So let's break down the good and the bad.
First up to bat is what can we use to kill the germs, but preserve the oleophobic (oil-repellant) and hydrophobic (water-repellent) coatings on our phones that help prevent moisture and grease from our daily use damaging our phones.
These things have become my favorite new thing to carry around 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes. They are small and I can fit 10 right inside the Gecko Phone Wallet I have on the back of my phone, so I always have them handy for wiping my phone and everything else I think is crawling with COVID-19 (shopping cart handles, faucets, car steering wheel, etc). In the past Phone Makers were reluctant to list these as clear to use. However just last month Apple has totally given the OK for these to be used to clean the entire device (screen and frame). “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.” Sweet! I must confess I have been doing it all along anyways but its good to know the Messiah of phone makers has officially given it the green light now.
Another High tech solution that does kill germs on your phone (usually while you charge) are the UV Light Smartphone Sanitizer & Sterilizers. They kill a whole host of the more than 17,000 different germs that can be found on our phones. However one caution here is there has not been a specific study that I could find that confirms the Novel Corona virus gets killed by UV Light.
Begore COVID-19 was even a threat there were companies already way on top of keeping our third hands clean with specially formulated Electronic Wipes solutions that are super safe for our phones and devices. Much like the first-aid wipe, these will get the job done just as well at clearing off the germs and may even be a bit milder on our devices long term health.
So MicroFiber Cloth is actually, by far, the best wipe material to use because it has a unique ability to wick away material and germs. It is by far the most gentle on your device, paper towel by comparison, would be considered very abrasive and not recommended to use on our device screens at all. My Gecko Wallet comes with a microfiber sticker that I always have stuck on the back of my phone for screen cleaning anyways. These kinds of Microfiber Stickers or Cloths can be mixed with equal parts water and alcohol to effectively clean our devices also.
The short answer here is YES we definitely have the risk of transferring the Coronavirus (and other pathogens) onto our devices and then into us. I referenced it earlier that our smartphones carry more than 17,000 bacterial gene copies each, according to a 2017 study. This report concluded that our devices “may play a role in the spread of infectious agents.”
Dr. Amy Edwards, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at University Hospitals who works with the UH Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health says about phone cleaning, “My advice would be to be vigilant, but calm, and not to panic.”
In protecting yourself from Coronavirus, health professionals say the most important thing to do is wash your hands regularly. Don’t forget to clean your phone regularly, too. “I clean my phone at least once a day,” says Edwards. She advocates others to do the same — and many other medical experts agree.
We all know now that the single most important thing is to keep your hands clean. Good hand hygiene is by far way more important than cleaning your phone. With that in mind, once we have our hands sparkly clean, we would be foolish not to keep our third hand (smartphones and other devices) as clean as our real hands are also.