By Tracey Dowdy
I think it’s safe to say we’re all a lot more aware of how easily germs and viruses can be transmitted than we were a year ago. As a result, we’re also quicker to sanitize surfaces, and that includes our phones. Some guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control have changed over the past several months as we learn more about the risk of contracting COVID-19 through surface-to-skin contact. We now know that coronavirus can last from hours up to several days on surfaces and objects but has not been shown to survive past seven days.
There are many ways to clean your phone, including Phone Soap, but if you’re looking for a less expensive option, not all cleaning methods are safe. Follow these guidelines to ensure your phone is sanitized without damaging your screen.
Never use straight alcohol on your phone screen as it can strip the oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings that protect your display and other ports. There are DIY solutions such as creating your own mix of alcohol and water, but if you get the concentration wrong, you’re likely to damage your screen or fail to sanitize the device. Instead, use disinfectant wipes containing 70% isopropyl alcohol or Clorox wipes (Apple initially advised against Clorox or similar wipes on your phone, but they now say it’s okay). Another option is to spray a nonabrasive or alcohol-based (70% isopropyl) disinfectant on a soft lint-free cloth – not directly on the device itself – then wipe down while the device is powered down and unplugged.
Of course, the safest way to clean the screen and remove those greasy fingerprints and smudges is with a microfiber cloth. If it’s particularly dirty, wet the cloth – not the device – even though the latest phones from manufacturers like Apple and Samsung are water-resistant. Others are a mixed bag, with only specific models passing tests. You can also try a Microfiber Screen Cleaner Sticker designed to adhere to the back of devices, so you’re never without a cleaning wipe.
If you have lint or other debris in the ports, use Scotch tape to lift it out. Lay it along the crevices or roll it up to reach into the charging port. You use a small tool like a toothpick or a micro vacuum tool to remove dirt from hard-to-reach places like the speaker port.
Avoid using hand sanitizer, glass cleaners, anything with abrasive properties, vinegar, bleach, or any kitchen or household cleansers to disinfect your phone. Paper towels are a no-no as they too can scratch the surface over time, and compressed ait will only drive debris further into the device.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.