Combat Coronavirus: How to practice phone hygiene?

Photo by Frank Vessia

Do we all think it is necessary clean our smart phones? If NO, it’s high time we started to think about it. The coronavirus scare has forced us to put on our thinking hats on what to do to prevent the spread of the virus through our phones.

After all the hype about hand hygiene, it is the time for phone hygiene now. These phones are very close to our daily lives and we use them like we use air to breathe. But beware, these phone screens are considered even dirtier than our toilet bowls. It is known to contain considerable amounts of bacteria, including fecal matter. And for those few, for whom their Smartphone is basically an extension of their hand, for them the need to consider phone hygiene is even more serious. A research study has found out that, on surfaces such as metal, glass or plastic, coronavirus can survive for anywhere between two hours and nine days. Hence, these viruses are learnt to live on these phones too and this is especially true when someone has sneezed or coughed on your phone and then you handle it. This way you could pick up the infection very soon. All you need to know is that, by keeping the phone very close to yourself, you can avoid any risk involved in getting infected by the virus. But many other researchers are of a different opinion. They say that we need to worry about door handles that thousands of people touch rather than our phones that we alone handle.

Should I clean my Smartphone?

The scare about the coronavirus is spreading faster than the virus itself and the panic button seems to be ON. It is time that we started accepting the situation and find ways to turn it around. ‘Hygiene’ is the IN word now, and recently smarphones have become synonymous to this term. Right now, apart from the virus scare, there is also a mass panic over mucky phones. So, there is a great need to clean our phones, especially if we are coming into contact with coronavirus patients.

How to clean my smartphone?

All major phone companies, especially Apple and Samsung advise the use of microfiber cloth to shine up our phones. However, they also mention that to effectively kill the virus on a surface a disinfectant solution that has at least 55% isopropyl alcohol should be used. Apple has also allowed its users to use a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox disinfecting wipe on the surface of all its products. Google too confirmed that it is OK to use isopropyl alcohol or Clorox wipes to clean its Pixel devices. Samsung too has given the ‘GO’ sign to include alcohol-based cleaners for cleaning their gadgets. It now advises Galaxy owners to dampen a cloth with a disinfectant or alcohol-based solution and wipe the phone gently with it. It says not to apply the liquid directly over the phone. In case, these cleaning products are not available in your locality, you can use a mixture of soap and water for your phones. But, avoid using bleach at any cost.

 Will cleaning damage my Smartphone?

The big cleaning-solution fear cited by Smartphone makers is damage to the phone screen’s oleo phobic layer. This is a protective coating on the phone screen that repels both water and oil. Basically, it helps minimize fingerprints and smudges. According to the latest update on Apple’s website – “Cleaning products and abrasive materials will diminish the coating and might scratch your iPhone.” It is also learnt that these screens are quite resistant to these products and the oleo phobic layer on the phone will wear from normal use anyway. When cleaning with disinfecting wipes, one should take care so that liquid does not enter the device through the ports. Even if most phones are now water resistant, that resistant wears over time.

Phone Soap says it has seen 1,000% revenue growth this year, due to increased interest in phone cleaning since the coronavirus spread. Last week, inventory the company put up on Amazon sold out within an hour.

Samsung is fine with using Phone Soap or its competitors – and is even offering free UV cleaning at select Samsung stores, if you feel like venturing out. Apple doesn’t explicitly offer in-store cleaning, but store employees are known to clean the company’s gadgets using wipes with 70% isopropyl alcohol.

The obsession on the hygiene and cleaning of electronic and Smartphone gadgets that we use daily shows that our anxieties are at an all-time high. Go ahead with cleaning if it does make you feel better and please note that this may not be the ultimate solution.