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How to sanitize your filthy smartphone to kill coronavirus

Published Mar 13th, 2020 9:29AM EDT
smartphone cleaning
Image: Zach Epstein for BGR

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  • You can easily clean your phone using common sanitizing products. 
  • Use a CDC-approved cleaner, but avoid bleach and heavy-duty chemicals. 
  • Clean your phone and phone case separately. 
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

Sanitizing your smartphone doesn’t have to be complicated. Combining cleaning agents (especially sprays) with electronics can seem like a bad idea, but as the world reacts to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to know how to keep your smartphone free of the virus and anything else that could make you or someone else sick.

You touch your phone countless times each day, and with what we know about how the coronavirus COVID-19 spreads — it can live on surfaces for many hours — your phone could become an easy avenue for the virus to infect you. The good news is that there are a ton of readily-available cleaning products that are known to kill the virus, and applying them to your phone is relatively straightforward.

What To Use

There’s a long list of cleaning products that are approved by the EPA and are known to kill coronavirus and lots of other nasty stuff. You can check out the full list, but here are some of the most popular, and you might already have them in your cabinet:

  • Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
  • Clorox Commercial Solutions
  • Clorox Disinfecting Spray
  • Lonza Formulation
  • Lysol Clean & Fresh Multi-Surface Cleaner
  • Oxycide Daily Disinfectant Cleaner
  • Peak Disinfectant Wipes
  • Peroxide Multi-Surface Cleaner and Disinfectant
  • Purell Professional Surface Disinfectant Wipes
  • Sani-Prime Germicidal Disposable Wipe

It’s advisable that you avoid any heavy-duty cleaners as well as bleach. However, wipes that contain 70 percent isopropyl alcohol are okay, as well as Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. Or, if you’re quick and you get a little lucky, you might also find some products online that use UV-C light to sanitize smartphones and other small devices. Here’s an example of one on Amazon that was in stock and shipping immediately at the time of this writing.

How to use cleaners

According to the CDC, your phone is one of the surfaces considered high-risk for transmission of sickness, along with things like keyboards, doorknobs, and countertops. However, your phone being an electronic device means you need to approach the cleaning in a different way.

Phone manufacturers, including Apple, suggest avoiding spraying your device directly. This obviously also applies to dunking your phone in a cleaning agent, even if the device has some sort of water resistance rating. You risk damaging to destroying your device, so just don’t do that.

Instead, apply a sanitizing cleaner to a soft cloth and wipe lightly. Don’t force it, and don’t aggressively rub on any surface. Light strokes will be more than enough to spread the sanitizing agent and wipe out the nasty things clinging to it. Avoid pushing the cleaner into any of the openings on your device.

If your device is in a case, you have some extra work to do. Remove your device from its case and clean both items separately. Depending on what kind of case you are using, various cleaners may be okay, but in most cases, a nice rubdown with dish soap and water will likely be fine. If possible, check your case manufacturer’s website for guidance on cleaning the case before testing anything out.