How to clean coronavirus off your smartphone

March 16, 2020
Posted in Article
March 16, 2020 Tumelo Moloi
One way to fend off germs: Clean your phone. Your phone is your "third hand"; one that harbors the multitude of germs and bacteria we come into contact with each day.

The COVID-19 coronavirus can survive on surfaces for up to nine days, which means your smartphone may be a hotspot for the virus.

Smartphones come into regular contact with various surfaces, our hands, our face, and other people – where they could potentially pick up and spread the coronavirus.

Disinfecting your smartphone is not straightforward, however, as there are a number of products which may damage the protective coating on your screen.

Apple has updated its support page to give iPhone users tips for cleaning their smartphone.

These are outlined below:

  • Use a soft, lint-free cloth. Avoid abrasive cloths, paper towels, or similar items.
  • Avoid excessive wiping, which might cause damage.
  • Unplug all external power sources, devices, and cables.
  • Keep liquids away from the product, unless otherwise noted for specific products.
  • Don’t get moisture into any openings.
  • Don’t use aerosol sprays, bleaches, or abrasives.
  • Don’t spray cleaners directly onto the item.

These tips will apply to smartphones from other manufacturers, although the degree of care you should exercise in wiping down your device also depends on its IP68 rating and whether it is waterproof or not.

Apple states that it is fine to use 70% isopropyl alcohol disinfectant on the hard, non-porous surfaces of their devices.

Don’t use isopropyl alcohol

While Apple has stated that using alcohol-based disinfectants is fine in certain cases, using rubbing alcohol on your smartphone can lead to serious damage.

Wiping down your screen with isopropyl alcohol can damage the oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings which keep oil and water from interfering with your display.

Oleophobic coatings reduce the formation of fingerprints on your smartphone screen and hydrophobic coatings allow water to roll off the display without damaging any components.

The safest way to clean your smartphone without damaging these surfaces is to use a simple combination of soap and water.

Speaking to the BBC, microbiologist Dr Lena Ciric said this will effectively clean your device without damaging any components.

Ciric warned against using chemicals, hand gels, and abrasive cleaners to clean your smartphone, advising that users clean their handset with a microfibre cloth – applying water and household soap to the cloth, and then gently wiping the phone.

“Take care not to get water in any of the openings because even water-resistant phones can lose their protection over time,” Ciric said.

This is an effective and easy way to clean your smartphone without the risk of damaging the special coating of your smartphone screen.

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