How to Sanitize Your Smartphone – ConsumerReports.org

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Studies have shown that smartphones are a breeding ground for germs and other pathogens, making it important to keep them clean. That’s certainly true for the novel coronavirus, which current research indicates can survive intact on surfaces for several days.

“Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your Apple product, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces,” Apple said.

The company recommends that you power the device down first and avoid using bleach, submerging the unit in cleaning agents, and allowing moisture to enter any opening in the shell.

“Don’t use [the wipes] on fabric or leather surfaces,” Apple adds.

In an email to Consumer Reports, a Google representative confirmed that it’s OK to use isopropyl alcohol wipes on the company’s devices (including the Pixel smartphone), without fear of causing damage. Consumer Reports has asked Samsung for similar confirmation on the use of wipes on its devices, but has not yet received a response. We’ll update this story if that changes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol have been shown to be effective at eliminating germs.

Consumers who shield their phones from harm with a screen protector and/or a protective case may have an even easier way to keep the device clean and free of germs: plain old soap and water.

Dr. James Dickerson, Consumer Reports’ chief scientific officer, says he regularly washes his smartphone case and screen cover in his sink with soap and water. And according to the CDC, soap and water are actually more effective at eliminating germs than alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

“So if people have those types of covers, that’s probably the best thing they can do,” he says. “They don’t have to go out and buy special sanitizers or anything like that. Just scrub it down.”

Do not, however, do that with a case that features a built-in battery for recharging on the go, he adds.

As for how often you should clean your smartphone, Dickerson says that varies based on your situation. A physician who sees patients regularly, he explains, will want to wipe down the phone several times a day. But the average consumer can do so less frequently. It all depends on how often you interact with other people.

More broadly, Dickerson says, consumers should look to official, reputable sources for information as the situation unfolds.

“You have to be vigilant,” he says. “Take in information from trusted healthcare professionals, and not just social media influencers.” 

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