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Do you realize how dirty your phone is? How to clean your phone amid coronavirus concerns

Studies suggest average phone is 18 times dirtier than public bathroom

DETROIT – As the coronavirus continues to spread, you’re likely taking extra precautions to avoid germs. But there’s one key thing you could be forgetting to clean: your cellphone.

Most people don’t realize how dirty their phones are. Health officials keep talking about how important hand washing and sanitizing is, but we handle our phones so much before touching our faces, it’s important to think about keeping them clean, too.

Studies suggest the average phone is 18 times dirtier than a public bathroom, so disinfecting your phone without causing harm to the device is important.

Every hand you shake, every doorknob you touch -- all that bacteria gets transferred to your phone.

“You transfer bacteria and viruses onto your phone that is not your own,” Local 4′s Dr. Frank McGeorge said. “Those are potentially not good for you.”

Health officials advise us to wash our hands and avoid touching our faces to hinder the spread of coronavirus. But even if you’re following those suggestions, the efforts might be short-sighted.

“A lot of the same rules I apply to my phone I apply to my hands,” McGeorge said. “If I wouldn’t luck my hands, I wouldn’t lick my phone. Well, you’re putting your phone against your face. It’s basically licking it.”

What should you use to clean your phone? Before you break out the bleach, household products or Lysol wipes, most newer phones have screens that can be damaged by harsh chemicals.

If you want to use a Lysol wipe, make sure you have a screen protector that allows for it. Don’t use window cleaners because they lead to gradual screen erosion.

Don’t use paper towels. They’re too abrasive and can scratch the display.

Rubbing alcohol and vinegar, even when diluted, introduces the risk of stripping the protective coating off of a screen.

Help Me Hank tested some cleaning methods. A Terrycloth purchased for a couple of dollars took off most of the bacteria. That’s what most phone manufacturers recommend, as well.

The UV phone soap device promises to kill 99.9% of germs, and it did.

There are portable phone cleaners and wipes, as well. Be sure to turn off your phone before cleaning it and avoid getting moisture in any openings, such as the charging port.

Smartphone manufacturers don’t recommend using compressed air products, and make sure none of your hard work goes to waste. Sanitize your hands after touching public objects, and before you touch your phone.

“We really need to rethink using our phones in places like this and decontaminating on a regular basis,” said Dr. Jack Caravanos, of the College of global Public Health at New York University.


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