As we all must be aware of by now, our cellphones are a major carrier of microbes and germs, such as viruses, bacteria and fungi.
During this horrific COVID-19 pandemic, it has become even more important to clean the surfaces that are commonly touched, including our cell phones. Our phone touch screen is easily one of the most commonly and frequently touched surface and can be easily a carrier of SARS-CoV-2.
Touch screens of our phones can be cleaned with the use of disinfecting wipes. How often you need to clean the phone depends on the usage of the phone, your lifestyle and the exposure your phone gets to the outside contaminants.
Why Should You Be Cleaning Your Phone? And What the Research Says About Cleaning Your Phone.(8, 9)
Due to this pandemic, a lot of importance is being stressed on preventive measures of covid-19, such as frequent washing of hands, social distancing and cleaning and disinfecting the commonly touched surfaces.(1) When it comes to the latter, we may be neglecting one of the most frequently touched, exposed and used surface; that is our cell touch screens and the pouches/cases for our phones.
According to many studies, cellphones have proven to be carriers of various pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria and fungi; along with the most neglected source of germs and other microbes.(2, 3, 4, 5)
While it’s true that many of these microbes are harmless; there can be some that can cause disease, such as SARS-CoV-2 virus which can not only survive, but also thrive on surfaces for sufficient time to be transmitted to another person from you or from someone else to you.
Just as cleaning your hands is important, it is equally important to clean your phone. Imagine this, you have just washed your hands and they are clean; however, when you pick up your cell phone with your clean hands, then all the germs present on the surface of your unclean phone get transferred to your clean hands. Now, imagine using your phone and casually rubbing your nose or eyes with your not so clean hands, because you touched your phone. Now this will lead to immediate transmission of the germs from the hands, which you picked up from your phone to an orifice of your body and next we know you are down with some illness, such as Covid-19.
According to research, an average person touches their cellphones around 2,617 times in a day 6). So, in light of this constant touching of your cell phone screen; it becomes imperative that you clean or wipe your phone cases and touch screens every now and then depending on your exposure and how often you use your phone.
The Right Way to Clean Your Phone
First thing to do is you find the information about your cell phone company to look for any specific instructions with regards to avoid damaging your phone case and device. There are multiple cell phone manufacturers, including Apple, that have given recommendations because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following instructions are given by the Apple Company(7, 9) and can be used for other brand cell phones too depending on what they have advised.
- Before cleaning your phone, always unplug all devices, power sources, and cables.
- Avoid excessive cleaning and wiping your cell phone screen and case.
- Always use only a lint-free, soft cloth to clean your phone surface.
- Keep your phone away from any liquids.
- Do not use abrasives, bleaches and aerosol sprays for cleaning or disinfecting the surface of your cell phone.
- Do not spray any disinfectant directly onto your screen.
- Do not allow any moisture to seep into any openings of your device.
- According to the recommendations from Apple, the use of Clorox Disinfecting Wipes or isopropyl alcohol wipes 70% can be utilized for cleaning nonporous and hard surfaces. However, they are also advising to avoid using these on fabric or leather to prevent damage.
The Right Number of Times for Cleaning Your Phone
The frequency of cleaning your phone surface depends on your habits and your daily activities.
According to studies, your phone can get contaminated with covid-19 virus or any other pathogen if someone coughs or sneezes near the phone; or if someone touches your phone with contaminated hands. This will result in transmission of virus via microscopic droplets to the phone.
So, it stands to reason to clean/disinfect your phone immediately if you have been near someone who is sneezing or coughing. Also, if you have been somewhere outside and have had to put your phone on a potentially contaminated surface, then in addition to washing your hands, cleaning/disinfecting your phone and its case is of paramount importance.
Generally it is recommended to clean your phone regularly through the day. But if you are someone who travels a lot; or steps outside your home frequently; or if your job requires meeting people daily, then along with washing your hands, the number of times you need to clean or disinfect your phone in a day also increases.
If you live alone, are working from home, and are diligently washing your hands, then it is enough to clean your phone surface a couple of time in a day.
Also of importance is the point that unless and until you are living with someone or are meeting with someone who is suffering from or carrying the COVID-19causing virus, SARS-CoV-2, then it is unlikely that your phone has any virus on it.
The importance of cleaning the surface of your phone; especially in this pandemic, cannot be stressed enough. How many times you clean/disinfect your cell phone and the case depends on its usage, its exposure and your lifestyle. So, along with cleaning other household surfaces, please do not neglect cleaning the surface of your phone too, which can be a potentially innocent carrier of SARS-CoV-2(8).
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