When and How to Clean Your Phone During the COVID-19 Outbreak
With the spread of the novel coronavirus in the U.S., people are more concerned than ever with staying clean and germ-free. People know, too, that their smartphones and other devices can carry more than a few germs, making it important to clean those gadgets every now and again.`
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 are the steps we’re taking at JEMJEM
- All devices that are traded in and sold on jemjem.com are thoroughly cleaned with Isopropyl alcohol, including careful brush cleaning in all device ports
- Employees wear gloves throughout device handling process
- Devices sold to our customers are placed in sealed plastic bags before they are packed in shipping boxes
Do you need to be cleaning your phone?
If you are washing your hands already, just how important is it to also clean your phone?
Westenberg said that if people wash their hands before touching their devices, that would ordinarily be enough to prevent us from transferring the virus through touch.
“However, as often as we touch our devices, washing our hands before every new contact with the device would be impractical,” he said.
In fact, according to a 2019 survey by research firm dscout, the average person touches their cellphone 2,617 times daily.
In light of this fact, Westenberg said wiping down the touch screens and cases of our phones “should be a part of our routine.”
First and foremost, you will want to consult the website for the manufacturer of your phone or carrying case for any specific instructions that they might have in order to avoid damaging your device or case.
Many manufacturers, including Apple, have provided recommendations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While specific instructions may vary depending on your device, Apple is advising the following for its products:
- Use only a soft, lint-free cloth.
- Avoid excessive wiping.
- Unplug all power sources, devices, and cables.
- Keep liquids away from your device.
- Don’t allow moisture to get into any openings.
- Avoid aerosol sprays, bleaches, and abrasives.
- Avoid spraying cleaners directly onto your device.
Apple is recommending the use of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipes or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes to wipe down any hard, nonporous surfaces.
However, they say you should avoid using them on leather or fabric to prevent damage.
According to Dr. Donald W. Schaffner, extension specialist in food science and distinguished professor at Rutgers University, these are “fairly gentle disinfectants.”
However, you should avoid using chlorine bleach, according to Schaffner. This could damage your phone.
Westenberg further suggested that keeping your phone in a sealed case will make it easier to wipe it down with disinfectant wipes.
According to Schaffner, the most likely way that your device would become contaminated with high levels of the virus is for someone to sneeze or cough near it.
Microscopic droplets containing the virus could then settle on the phone, he explained.
So, if you have been near anyone who is coughing or sneezing, it would be a good idea to clean your phone.
In addition, according to Westenberg, it would be a good idea to clean your phone “on a regular basis,” although not necessarily every time you touch it.
As far as the frequency, this will vary with your habits, said Westenberg.
“If you are being diligent about washing your hands, you would need to clean the screen less often, maybe once or twice a day.
“If you are putting your phone down on a potentially contaminated surface, washing your hands infrequently, et cetera, then I would recommend more often,” he said.
Schaffner said he thinks it’s important to stress, however, that unless you are in a home with someone who has SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, it’s relatively unlikely that your phone has any virus on it.
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.”
“I don’t think there’s any reason to clean your phone more than once a day,” he said, unless it’s potentially been exposed to the virus.
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