The recent outbreak of coronavirus has focused public attention on the need to take sensible precautions to help prevent the spread of illness. In addition to regular hand washing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends diligently cleaning commonly touched surfaces that can harbor bacteria, including things like light switches, remote controls and door knobs.
Put your cellphone at the top of that list. According to a 2019 study, a typical cellphone user touches his or her phone 2,617 times every day. While that creates plenty of opportunities to stay connected, it also gives harmful microorganisms you’ve picked up from other surfaces a good chance to travel from your fingers to your device and beyond.
As a general rule, you should clean your phone at least once a day, and more often if it’s been exposed to any potential risk—if, for instance, you’ve been in a crowded public location like a supermarket, doctor’s office, or a movie theater. Fortunately, there are simple ways you can do this to help combat germs that can live and grow on its surfaces.
- Wipe touchscreens with a microfiber cloth (like a lens cloth) dampened with warm water and soap. This will help decontaminate the screen while also preventing scratches. Avoid using household products, like glass cleaners, as these contain chemicals which can damage the protective coating on the screen’s glass.
- To clean the backs and sides of your phone, first unplug all cables. Then, use cleaning wipes, or household soap. Apple instructs iPhone users to rub their devices down with a microfiber cloth and warm soapy water.
- Hand wash cases with mild soap or laundry detergent.
- Though many phones are labeled as water-resistant, don’t put them under a running faucet or immerse them in water. Doing so allows water to enter the phone’s open ports, which need to be completely free of moisture before the phone can be charged.
In addition to regular cleaning, following these “best practices” can further protect you from unnecessary exposure to harmful germs and bacteria when using your phone.
- If at all possible, don’t put your phone to your face when making or receiving calls. Orifices like the mouth and eyes are prime entry points for germs, so consider using the phone’s speaker, or headphones that have a microphone, instead.
- Keep your phone to yourself. Sharing it with others adds another layer of risk since it diversifies the kinds of germs you’re coming in contact with.
Finally, keep your phone in your pocket or purse when going into any bathroom. This will prevent it from coming into contact with the many airborne contaminants commonly found there.