How to sanitize your phone and other tech, according to doctors
From one-minute cleaning hacks to exhaustive cleaning guides, we often share ideas on how to best stay clean in a fast-moving world. Right now, cleanliness is especially important considering the global spread of COVID-19.
It's important to know that one of the simplest prevention measures you can take to limit the spread of the coronavirus is proper hand-washing. The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water before eating, after using the bathroom and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, as well as before and after caring for a sick friend or a family member. In new guidance, the CDC now also recommends you wear cloth masks in public. It notes recent studies show individuals may be able to transmit coronavirus to other people even though they are asymptomatic. "This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity — for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing — even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms," the CDC advised.
Best UV light sanitizers for your smartphone and other devices
Of course, there are specific ways to best keep your skin clean, whether it's oily, acne-prone, or otherwise. Yet, one device can often get neglected during our daily hygiene and cleanliness routines: Our phones, which we put through the ringer every day.
- You’re constantly scrolling through it — eating, resting in between sweaty sets at the gym and so on
- Maybe your kids are grabbing it with less-than-clean hands
- Or maybe you're whipping up dinner (hello, raw chicken), following a Pinterest recipe.
There’s a lot of microbes hanging around on your stuff.
What are ultraviolet (UV) light sanitizers?
“Unlike the average American, our tech devices don’t take a shower each day,” says Michael Schmidt, PhD, a professor with the department of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina. “We take a shower to remove the microbes affiliated with our skin. The only thing that microbes like better than human skin is plastic and glass,” he explained. In other words, microbes are attracted to your smartphone, your earbuds, your tablet and other products you likely use everyday.
Until recently, your best option was to use a microfiber cloth — or an alternative — to physically wipe these microbes away. Recently, companies have been releasing products equipped with ultraviolet (UV) light to sanitize products (or themselves). These UV light sanitizers promise to rid your tech and other household items of germs that might make you sick.
How do UV light sanitizers work?
On the UV light spectrum there are UV-A, B, and C lights. Only the UV-C light can kill germs, says Philip Tierno, PhD, a clinical professor in the department of pathology at New York University Langone Medical Center.
“This light has a range of effectiveness, which interferes and destroys the nucleic acids of bacteria and other microbes,” Tierno explained, adding that the range of light can also disrupt proteins in the microbes by killing certain amino acids. They work best on smooth surfaces and have limitations, Tierno advised.
“UV-C penetrates superficially, and the light can’t get into nooks and crannies,” he explained. That includes things like buttons or phone cases, which are lined with crevices. If a germ is encased within a food particle, for example, the UV light won’t be able to get at it.
“These kill microbes quickly," Michael Schmidt said. "But when your device comes out, it’s only as safe as its last encounter." In other words, using the UV light sanitizer doesn't license you to get dirty and ignore possible new germs on the phone.
UV light sanitizers to shop in 2020
If you're considering grabbing a UV light sanitizer or a product that uses UV lights, here are some uses you'll likely get out of it:
- These sanitizers can really shine if multiple people are around your tech devices through the day — as in an office, for example.
- They make for a quick clean for your tech after your kids (or grandkids) had their way with it
- And they can be helpful after a day out hiking, gardening, running and so on or a day in cooking, cleaning or playing around with your pets.
Beyond UV-sanitizing devices that clean your tech, there are also products that use UV light to clean what's inside them, like water bottles that self-clean. (Because you know you don’t wash your water bottle as often as you should.) These also employ UV-C light to rid germs and viruses on their interior.
1. UVProbox UV-C Medical Grade Phone Sanitizer (limited availability) $99
The smaller iteration of UVProbox portable UV light sanitizer will fit your phone and little else — which might be worth the trouble considering the amount of time we use our phones.
2. PhoneSoap Pro (available for preorder only, ships June 30)
PhoneSoap designed its products to kill 99.99 percent of bacteria and germs on devices surfaces in five minutes. The recently released PhoneSoap Pro has been redesigned to be larger so it can fit bigger smartphones, their cases, and accessories like AirPods.