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How to sanitise your smartphone effectively

Touch screens have made your phone even dirtier

(Image: © Future)

The coronavirus has made us all aware of all the surfaces we touch and how properly sanitising can help stop spread through contact points. 

Smartphones are almost all touch screens these days, and these surfaces are far from clean as people don't often stop to consider between grabbing their phone after touching all sorts of other objects. 

While it was previously thought that COVID-19 could not live for long on our phone's surface, new research from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, has found that the virus can live on the phone glass for up to four weeks. 

“At 20°C, which is about room temperature, we found that the virus was extremely robust, surviving for 28 days on smooth surfaces such as glass found on mobile phone screens," said Dr Debbie Eagles, deputy director of the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness. 

The study did note that the sun makes the virus inactive quite quickly, they explained that this research shows why keeping surfaces and hands clean is key to protecting yourself. 

Sanitising a phone isn't as simple as just wiping a cloth over it. Many aren't very waterproof and sanitizer with high alcohol content can harm the screen and its protector. 

While regularly washing your hands means your phones screen should be clean. Here are some ways to sanitize your phone if you are wanting to be extra careful.

Alcohol wipes

This is the simplest solution, though not exactly environmentally friendly. A gentle sweep with 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes will do the trick. 

Using very intense disinfectants is a big no-no when it comes to smartphones but these alcohol wipes are gentle enough to get the job done on your screen without causing any damage.

A downside however is keeping a packet of wipes with you all the time and having to use one and throw them away. If you can find biodegradable ones that is an improvement as single-use products detrimental for the environment. 

Microfibre towel

This is the top recommended way to clean dirt and other impurities off your screen. The gentle fabric will lift and trap dust and dirt without scratching your phone. 

To make this a viable option for COVID-19, simply spray the towel with 70% isopropyl alcohol and gently wipe down the screen. Don't spray directly onto the screen and don't make your cloth soaked either. 

UV-light box 

Since the interest in cleaning phones peaked, the UV-stertilizer has become a popular product. Although many haven't been tested out against the coronavirus specifically, they are labelled as killing 99% of all germs and bacteria. 

Studies into UV light killing the virus have been done on products like N95 masks so they could be reused but none have directly looked at smartphones. 

UV-light boxes like those from Samsung have been designed to be multi-functional and include wireless charging and enough space to disinfect multiple objects. 

Leila Stein

Leila Stein is an experienced multimedia journalist and content producer with a special interest in data journalism. she is skilled in news writing, editing, online writing and multimedia content production and have a Bachelor of Journalism  from Rhodes University and an Honours in Historical Studies from University of Cape Town.