How and when to clean your phone – kill germs and viruses

As the COVID-19 pandemic is ever growing and evolving, health officials are placing increased emphasis on us all to have better hygiene. This includes ensuring our tech is as clean as possible to help reduce the spread of the virus.

It’s something that you may not have considered, but think how much time you spend on your phone, especially as we use them more and more to keep in touch with loved ones.

Studies have shown that all kinds of bacteria can live on our smartphones, with one report from the University of Arizona even claiming that our phones could contain as many as 17,000 bacterial gene copies, which is ten times more than most toilet seats!

Of course, not all bacteria is harmful, but some definitely is, including that which causes the COVID-19 virus, so do you need to be cleaning your mobile phone, and what’s the best way to do so?

Do you need to clean your phone?

In theory, washing your hands as per the government guidelines should be enough to prevent you from contracting the virus from your mobile phone, but think about how many times you touch your phone in between handwashing.

You might not think it’s that much, but it’s actually estimated that we touch our smartphones as much as 2,617 times a day!

With that in mind, it definitely makes sense to be taking steps to clean your phone and phone case to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

How to clean your phone

The main thing to note about cleaning your mobile phone is that it needs to be done carefully to ensure that you don’t damage the device and void the warranty. We’ve put together a simple step-by-step guide to help you navigate through the process but if, for whatever reason, your device does become faulty, you can recycle it safely with us for cash!

1. Remove any charger leads, accessories or phone cases

To start, wash your hands. Then, power down your device and make sure you have removed all accessories, charging leads and the phone case to free up the phone’s ports. This will give you an unobscured surface to clean and these other items will be cleaned separately, which we will run you through in a little while.

2. Find the right cleaning equipment

The first place you should start is by taking a clean microfiber cloth to gently wipe down the exterior of your phone, most importantly the phone screen. This should get rid of any smudges and physically remove germs due to the friction between the cloth and the glass surface. The germs aren’t killed at this stage but are starting to be removed.

Next you should use an alcohol based wipe to disinfect and kill harmful bacteria on the outside of your phone. Apple and Google both recommend 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes are safe to use without causing any harm to your iPhone or Samsung devices.

However, according to our Head of Operations, Ken Parker: “While the Apple recommendation of 70% will be sufficient to tackle bacteria, it will still have a high water content, so should be used sparingly and not into any openings on the phone such as the microphone openings etc. People also need to be careful of using it on any porous sections of the phone design as this may leave some staining.”

You may have noticed though, these alcohol antibacterial wipes for phones can be increasingly difficult to get hold of, especially for a reasonable price in these current times. If you can’t get hold of this method an alternative is to use a light soap and water solution. It’s not perfect but it’s better than nothing.

Start by making a mixture of dish soap and water. Don’t directly dunk your phone into the solution, even if it is meant to be waterproof. The soap in the solution will seriously damage the internal components of your device. Instead, dip a clean microfiber cloth into the solution and gently rub down your phone. These cloths are much less abrasive than towels or tissues and are less likely to damage the protective, scratch-resistant layer on your phone’s display.

As ever though, we advise to be very careful when using water around your phone. The Samsung Galaxy S20iPhone 11Huawei Mate, and many others, have been tested for water resistance. These particular models have an IP68 rating, which means they are designed to withstand immersion in freshwater at a depth of 1.5m for 30 minutes. But if your device has cracks on the screen or you put water in the charging/headphone sockets, it will seriously damage the device.

If you’re looking for a more high-tech way of sanitizing your tech, you can pick up a UV sanitiser for your phone from Amazon. They work like a mini sunbed for your phones, bathing it in ultraviolet light to kill bacteria without causing damage to your phone with excessive moisture or heat.

3. Clean the hard to reach areas

Be extra careful when it comes to cleaning the hard to reach places on your device, this includes the ports, camera lenses and even the tiny hole that lets you access the SIM tray. All these places can collect dirt despite their small size.

To clean them without damaging them, use a cotton bud or wooden toothpick to gently clean around the camera lenses, buttons and ports. Be extra careful not to stick it all the way into the ports though as that could damage the interior of the phone. Once that’s done, use a cloth to wipe away any grime.

4. Leave your phone to dry

Once you’ve cleaned your device you will need to let it air dry completely for at least 15 minutes to let the disinfectant work its magic.

5. Clean your phone case

While you’re waiting for your phone to dry, you can clean your phone case and other accessories to ensure these are just as clean as your phone. Find out how below!

How to clean a phone case

Depending on the material your phone case is made of, you will have to use a different cleaning method to ensure you don’t damage your case.

How to clean plastic phone cases

You can clean your plastic phone case in a similar way to cleaning your phone, by using an antibacterial alcohol wipe and a clean microfiber cloth. Gently wipe the surface of the case and use a cotton bud/toothpick to get into those hard to reach places. Let the case dry thoroughly before putting your phone back in.

How to clean silicone phone cases

Luckily, silicone phone cases are really easy to clean. You can simply place them in a bowl with water and washing up liquid or household soap and gently wipe them over with a soft cloth. Just remember to take your phone out of the case before you do this and get into all of the nooks and crannies to give it a deep clean. Ensure you let the case completely dry before putting your phone back in.

How to clean leather phone cases

To clean leather cases, use a damp cloth with a mild hand soap and water solution on it or a saddle soap that’s safe to use on leather. You can also use a mild cleaner with microfiber cloth to get stubborn stains out. Make sure it’s completely dry before putting the case back onto your phone.

How to clean your charger and other accessories

Take your alcohol wipes and gently clean over all surfaces of your charger, headphones and other accessories you use on a regular basis to ensure they are as clean as your phone.

How often should you clean your phone?

The most likely way that your phone is going to contain harmful COVID-causing bacteria is if someone with the virus coughs or sneezes, causing tiny droplets to land on the device.

With that in mind, if you’ve been in contact with anyone doing a lot of coughing or sneezing, it makes sense to give your phone a clean.

Other than this, exactly how often you need to clean your phone will depend on how much you use it, but use common sense and make sure that you’re doing it regularly.

Of course, if you’re washing your hands frequently, then you have less need to clean your phone so frequently, perhaps just once or twice a day.

The truth is unless you’re in very close contact with someone who has the disease, the chance of catching COVID-19 from your phone is actually fairly low, but that doesn’t mean that, just like in all other aspects of our daily lives, you shouldn’t be taking the necessary precautions.

Other tips to keep your phone clean

If you’re keeping a regular sanitisation schedule when it comes to cleaning your tech, you shouldn’t have a problem with keeping your phone clean. However, we’ve pulled together some other top tips to keep your phone clean to reduce the amount of germs and bacteria making home on your phone.

  • Don’t take your phone to the bathroom with you. Even though it might be tempting to scroll social media while on the loo, studies have shown that as many as one in six phones actually have faecal matter on them. This makes them a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, so leave your phone at your desk.
  • Don’t keep it in the same pocket as your dirty tissues. If you sneeze or blow your nose on a tissue and then, while it’s still damp with snot, stick it in the same pocket as your phone, those germs are bound to transfer onto your device. So throw your used tissue away instead.
  • Avoid scrolling on public transport. If you can, avoid using your phone while commuting on public transport, as the germs you come into contact with on railings and handles can easily end up on the phone’s screen. The best time to use your phone on the train or bus is when you’re sitting down and not clutching a pole or handle.

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