The disturbing amount of time coronavirus can live on your phone screen

Shutterstock

The public wants a surefire way to avoid contracting the novel coronavirus, but health experts urge that the best practice is to follow good hygiene patterns. Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds, cover your mouth when you cough; these are all recommendations that we have heard our whole lives. But here’s a technique most people (or, at least, the older generations) may have not been told as a child: wipe down your cell phone screen with antibacterial wipes to get rid of germs.

This is especially true for the coronavirus outbreak. It’s more important than ever to make sure you wipe down surfaces you come into contact frequently — and we’re willing to bet that your phone is a surface you come into contact with pretty frequently.

The virus, which travels quickly, is spread through droplets that can travel as far as three to six feet from coughs and sneezes. It appears to spread mostly via person-to-person contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but can also be contracted by touching a surface where the virus resides.

So the question is: how long can it last on your phone, and how can you clean it off?

How long can the novel coronavirus last on your smartphone’s screen?

The novel coronavirus can live on surfaces for multiple days, according to Rudra Channappanavar, an immunologist who has studied coronaviruses at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

More specifically, the virus can live on your smartphone screen, if it’s made of glass, for up to 96 hours. This means that if the virus lands on your phone, it can live there for four whole days at room temperature.

With this information, you should know that in theory, it would be easy to pick up this virus from your cell phone screen.

How long can the novel coronavirus last on other surfaces?

The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is a close relative of SARS and, according to the World Health Organization, likely has a similar lifespan on surfaces.

Here’s a rundown of how long COVID-19 is estimated to live on other surfaces:

  • Plastered wall: 36 hours
  • Formica (the laminate material on countertops): 36 hours
  • Plastic: 72 hours
  • Stainless steel: 72 hours

How can you avoid touching a surface with the novel coronavirus on it?

If you are someone who ventures out in the world daily, there is no definite way to avoid touching a surface that has been touched by the novel coronavirus, which is why it’s important to be cautious throughout the day.

Here are a few tips for commuters:

  • Wash your hands whenever you arrive at your destination.
  • Wipe down your phone as soon as possible.
  • Wipe down your bag as soon as possible.
  • Wear disposable gloves when using public transportation or going shopping.
  • Clean counter and table surfaces daily.

How can you clean surfaces that may have been touched by COVID-19?

You can be safe by cleaning the surfaces around you, even if you don’t suspect that they have become infected.

Apple recommends cleaning your phone with a slightly damp microfiber cloth and soap, but baby or face wipes are also a viable option. A solution of half water and half rubbing alcohol will also do the trick, but make sure to avoid any openings in your phone with this technique.

Here’s a thorough walkthrough of how to clean your phone to prevent coronavirus spread.