Here's how to sanitize your phone properly
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In this article, we use a phone sanitizing recipe that is 50% water and 50% 70% isopropyl alcohol. For those concerned about coronavirus, the CDC recommends using a mixture that is 60%-70% isopropyl or ethyl alcohol by volume, which would translate into a recipe where 2/3 of the solution (or more) is made up of 99% isopropyl or ethyl alcohol.
Like most people, I'm addicted to my phone. A.k.a I use it almost every minute of every day. However, not counting the occasional swipe with a Kleenex, I have cleaned my phone a total of zero times in my life. Yes, zero. And when you think about all the places my phone has been (public restrooms, the Starbucks counter, the gym floor)—it's disgusting.
But just how gross is it? According to studies, not only is your phone much dirtier than you think, but it can also be covered in potentially harmful bacteria. Especially with the recent outbreak of the coronavirus, now's a good time to sanitize your phone, and sanitize it thoroughly. Here's exactly what's lurking on your phone and how to clean it the right way so you—and your phone—stay germ-free.
Why you should clean your phone regularly
Your phone touches your fingers, your face, and all sorts of surfaces throughout the day—so it's no surprise that it's a magnet for oil, grime, dead skin cells, and bacteria. But even more alarming than that, an unclean phone can also be a haven for dangerous germs like E. coli, streptococcus, and those that cause staph infections or the flu. In fact, one study found that the average high schooler's phone has 17,000 different types of bacteria, making it 10 times dirtier than a typical toilet seat. Yikes.
How often you should clean your phone
Our senior scientist and germ guru, Julia MacDougall, says once a week is a good rule of thumb. However, she notes that the more you use your phone, the more frequently you should clean it. "If you have kids or multiple people handling your phone, I'd recommend cleaning it more than once a week," she says, adding, "It's when people share your phone that you have to start worrying about germs spreading."
The best way to clean your phone
Fortunately, keeping your phone germ-free isn't difficult. Julia recommends this simple DIY method: "Dilute isopropyl alcohol with water, then spray it on your phone and wipe it dry with a soft microfiber cloth." (FYI: Isopropyl alcohol is just a fancy word for good old-fashioned rubbing alcohol.) Avoid using regular paper towels or other rough materials that could scratch or damage your phone's screen and, if possible, use distilled water which is less likely to leave mineral deposits or streaks.
Is it worth buying a phone sanitizer?
You've probably seen UV phone sanitizers that promise to eliminate 99.999% of the bacteria on your phone. "UV light is often used to kill bacteria because specific wavelengths of UV light are 'germicidal,' in the sense that they can cause the bonds to break between molecules within the bacteria's DNA, rendering the bacteria damaged or dead," Julia explains. But do they actually work?
She tried three different sanitizers to find out. The popular PhoneSoap, which has thousands of glowing reviews online, successfully killed most (and occasionally all) of the bacteria on the phone. The CareBox was a close second, leaving behind a single minor speck of bacteria. So if you're going to go with a phone sanitizer, either one will do the trick.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
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