Keep Your Handheld Devices Spring Clean, All Year Long
Everyone knows about personal hygiene: Wash your hands after using the bathroom. Don’t cough into your hands. Shower regularly. Brush your teeth. Keep your hair and nails clean. But the pandemic has put the spotlight on another equally important practice: phone hygiene.
Think about all the different surfaces you touch during day-to-day activities. Door handles, gas pumps, ATMs, credit card machines, shopping carts, self-checkout counters, light switches and crosswalks. You’re constantly picking up germs and bacteria on your hands and fingers, which are passed back and forth to your devices.
We’re so used to grabbing our phones automatically and don’t always have clean hands when we do - and that can make you sick. Handheld devices are a breeding ground for microbes and can promote ear and throat infections, stomach flu, ear infections, pneumonia and coronavirus.
Some experts claim cell phones carry 10 times more bacteria than toilets. Our phones touch our face and ears and come close to our mouth, eyes and nose. But chances are, we’re not cleaning them thoroughly or often enough.
Steps to disinfect germs from your devices
Use disinfecting wipes for the safest, most effective way to kill the germs, bacteria and viruses lingering on your devices.
- Unplug the device and remove the device from its case.
- Wipe device with a soft, lint-free cloth to help remove grease, grime and dirt.
- Use a disinfecting wipe to clean the device, taking care around ports and buttons. The same wipes you use when disinfecting surfaces are safe for electronics and kill the bacteria and viruses living on your phone. Don’t oversaturate and avoid using liquid household cleaners and sprays that can find their way inside and damage your device.
- Let air dry for 5 minutes. Keep in mind that many products for electronics contain alcohol because it dries quickly.
- Wipe off any excess disinfectant with a soft cloth, preferably with a different cloth from the one used in step 2.
For electronic surfaces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends following the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions and using a disinfectant from the EPA List N (if needed). Steer clear from heavy-duty chemicals, abrasive agents, bleach and bathroom cleaners. Also keep in mind that disinfecting wipes with alcohol, bleach or vinegar may wear down the protective coating on device screens.
6 ways to help keep your device germ-free
Because we take our phones with us everywhere, they’re constantly exposed to germs. But you can help keep your phone clean and limit exposure.
- Don’t cross-contaminate: An easy way to spread germs is by touching your phone and then touching something else. Be extra careful if that “something else” is food-related.
- Where you go matters: Know there are potential germ hazards at gyms, grocery stores, retail shops, or anywhere else with shared, high-touch surfaces. Whenever possible, keep your phone in your purse, bag, pocket or car.
- Get in sync: Go hand-free when making calls so your phone doesn't press against your face or mask.
- Keep bathrooms phone-free zones: Many people admit to using their cell phones in the bathroom. It’s time to flush that habit down the drain.
- Take preventative measures: To remove germs, wipe your phone down when you come home after being out in public, or at least once a day.
- Kill the germs: Disinfect your cell phone every other day, or at least twice a week.
Always wash your hands: Always. Wash. Your. Hands.