We have all heard it by now. Practice social distancing, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face and eyes with your hands. Health experts say that this is our best shot at protecting ourselves against the coronavirus pandemic that has caused worldwide havoc. This intense focus on hygiene and disinfection has understandably made a lot of people wonder if they need to clean their phones.
Our phones spend the better part of the day in our hands and we press them up against our face multiple times a day. It wouldn’t hurt to know how to properly clean and disinfect them. Samsung has provided some tips on how you can go about cleaning your phone to keep it free from bacteria and viruses.
How to clean your phone to protect yourself against coronavirus
If we take a step back and consider how frequently our phones come into contact with surfaces that countless people touch every single day and weigh that against the fact that our phones are intimately ingrained in our daily life, you can imagine why people might be freaking out about how to make sure that their phone doesn’t become a carrier of the virus.
It certainly has the potential of becoming a carrier of the virus. As the Wall Street Journal points out, it was revealed in a recent study that the coronavirus can survive on surfaces like glass, metal or plastic, materials most commonly used for smartphones, for a significant period of time ranging between two hours and nine days. Emma Hayhurst, a University of South Wales microbiologist, told the scribe that there’s no evidence that the coronavirus won’t transmit through a phone, which means that it very much remains a possibility until it can be ruled out conclusively.
The greatest infection risk is from coming into contact with a surface where the virus is present. Imagine you’re riding on the subway and you put your phone down on the seat beside you to tie your shoe. You’re not aware that the person who got off at the previous stop before you got on had sneezed or coughed at that same spot. Your phone could, at least in theory, pick up the virus from that spot. The same goes for a variety of other scenarios, be it the checkout counter at a grocery store where you’re paying with your phone or the boarding card scanner at the airport.
All of us have been using phones long enough to know that our phones don’t really cause us to get sick. We don’t think about disinfecting them, the most we’ll do is wipe them on the sleeve of our shirts or really rub them clean once in a while with a microfiber cloth. We use them with reckless abandon, placing them down at public places or handing them to strangers when we want a picture taken without much concern. However, these are uncertain times and seeing how rapidly the virus is spreading, it would be better to follow these steps just out of an abundance of caution.
Follow these steps for ideal results
Samsung has provided guidelines to follow if you’re thinking about thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting your phone. Before you begin, power down your device, remove any case or cover and unplug any accessories. Wipe the exterior surface of the phone with a soft, lint-free microfiber cloth. Samsung warns against applying liquid cleaning solutions directly on the phone as that may damage the device, particularly the oleophobic coating which helps protect the display from fingerprint smudges. Liquids and water could even get into open spaces, particularly on devices that don’t have an IP rating like the Galaxy Z Flip, so you could end up damaging your phone. For disinfecting the phone, dampen the corner of your cleaning cloth with a small amount of distilled water or disinfectant.
You can use a hypochlorous acid-based (50-80ppm) or alcohol-based (formulated with more than 70% ethanol or isopropyl alcohol) product and wipe the front and back of your phone gently without too much pressure. Avoid wiping the device excessively. Samsung also cautions against using compressed air or applying spray bleaches or liquid solutions directly on the phone. These cleaning guidelines are meant for glass, ceramic and metal surfaces, not for soft accessories that are made from materials like plastic, rubber or leather. If you use cases or covers on your phone, it would be a good idea to disinfect them as well, since they tend to capture a lot of dirt and grime anyway over time.
Samsung is even offering a free Galaxy Sanitizing Service through its official service centers and stores in dozens of countries across the globe. It’s using special machines to disinfect the phones with UV-C light, thereby eliminating the need to use cleaning solutions on the phone. The complete list of countries where the Galaxy Sanitizing Service is available can be found here.
Prevention is certainly the best cure in this situation. Once you have gone through the ritual of disinfecting your phone, be mindful when you’re using it outside your home. Keep it close to you, don’t set it down and don’t hand it to anybody. It’s a temporary nuisance but it could go a long way in protecting your health and safety as well as that of your loved ones.