Your Phone is Filthy. Here’s How to Clean it

The coronavirus is here, and it’s showing no signs of letting up. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to keep your hands clean and off your face, but it’s hard to maintain constant vigilance.

Keeping your phone sanitized is another smart way to keep germs off your fingertips. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers your phone a “high-touch surface,” which could make it a carrier of the virus.

But cleaning your phone — thoroughly, I mean — is not as straightforward as it might seem. There are all sorts of nooks and crannies, delicate glass and intricate protective cases.

Any sort of moisture can interfere with your phone’s function. Apple recommends that people avoid using spray cleaners or heavy-duty products.

No bleach, no aerosol sprays. You need your phone to work, even if you want it clean.

Also — and this probably goes without saying — don’t dunk your phone into any sort of liquid, anti-bacterial or otherwise. It won’t end well for either of you.

A gentle wipe with a product that has 70 percent isopropyl alcohol will do just fine. Apple recommends Clorox, and the C.D.C. says household disinfectants registered by the Environmental Protection Agency are effective.

Wear disposable gloves to clean, the C.D.C. recommends, and wash your hands thoroughly after you’re done. Like your phone, reusable gloves might harbor virus particles, rendering them effectively useless.

And don’t forget your phone case.

Wipe it down, in and out, through and through. Let it dry before reassembling it.

You might also consider changing a bit of your behavior. AT&T suggests sharing photos through texts, instead of passing the phone around, and using devices like headphones and technology like Bluetooth to keep your phone away from your face.

This might be the best thing you can do all day. This outbreak is fast-moving and research is, by nature, slow to catch up. As a result, the C.D.C. does not yet know exactly how long the virus can cling to a surface, but evidence suggests it could be “hours to days.”

And phones are, well, gross. A 2017 study published in the journal Germs found a host of bacteria, viruses and pathogens on 27 phones owned by teenagers. The scientists wrote that they “hypothesize that this may play a role in the spread of infectious agents in the community.”

Safe is always better than sorry.

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