How should I clean my smartphone?
All my new infectious-disease friends, however, say that to effectively kill the virus on a surface, you need disinfectant solution—for instance, something with at least 55% isopropyl alcohol.
On Monday, I reported that Apple updated its website to remove its blanket ban on all cleaning supplies. It now gives the OK to use a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox disinfecting wipe on the surface of all Apple products. Google also confirmed that it’s OK to use isopropyl alcohol or Clorox wipes to clean its Pixel devices.
After publication of this column, Samsung updated its cleaning guidance to include alcohol-based cleaners. It now advises Galaxy owners to dampen a cloth with a disinfectant or alcohol-based solution and wipe gently. It says not to apply liquid directly onto your phone.
Of course, the big question right now is, where do you BUY the wipes?
Can you use soap and water, as many have asked me? Sure, but avoid using rough paper towels or sponges on the screen. And never use bleach.
Cleaning ≠ Sanitizing
To clean a phone screen is simply to physically wipe it down. This can be done with a microfiber cloth, a wet wipe, or just the sleeve of your shirt; essentially any common soft tissue or fabric. Each of these items work because they successfully “clean” a touchscreen by physically removing visible debris (such as dirt, grease, oils and dust). They’re purpose is not to kill or reduce a certain number of bacteria.
Sanitizing A Surface
Sanitization can be achieved in several different ways, including germicidal ultraviolet (UV) light. In contrast to cleaning (which emphasizes the removal of debris, but doesn’t define any reduction in bacteria), the act of sanitization focuses almost exclusively on reducing bacterial counts on a given surface. To ‘sanitize’ a surface, you need to deactivate at least 99.9% of pathogens.
Phone-cleaning gadget? Absolutely!
If you’re not into getting your phone and hands all wet, you can try this UV sanitizing gadget that can be bought on Amazon. Pop your phone in the tiny tanning bed for 3 minutes and the company claims to kill bacteria and germs on the surface of the items. NOTE: UV light does not physically remove debris from phones or tablets, but it will deactivate bacteria and spores, effectively killing them. This means that when a phone is exposed to intense UV light, the germs are deactivated but the screen will often look the exact same as before the phone entered the solution.
The big cleaning-solution fear cited by smartphone makers is damage to your phone screen’s oleophobic layer. This is a protective coating on your screen that repels both water and oil. Basically, it helps minimize fingerprints and smudges. “Cleaning products and abrasive materials will diminish the coating and might scratch your iPhone,” Apple’s website reads.
Soft Scrub with some bleach for five minutes? Still in decent shape. Finally, I decided to let it sit in a stew of toilet-bowl cleaner for two hours, then I threw in a five-minute rubdown with nail-polish remover, which has acetone. That did it…just about. (The phone, miraculously, still worked.)