How to keep your phone (and yourself) clean from germs and Coronavirus

So you’ve been protecting yourself during the ongoing spread of COVID-19. You’ve been following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for keeping yourself free of germs. You’re washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and have been avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

That’s great, but have you cleaned your phone lately?

At least 18 US states have confirmed cases of the coronavirus, as the crisis approaches 100,000 total cases worldwide. Businesses have started to prepare for work in case an outbreak were to force office closures for weeks. Whether you’re going to still report to the office or work remotely during a potential outbreak, it’s very important to make sure you’re clean and safe while commuting and at work.

How to clean your phone

Did you know that your cellphone is 10 times more germs than a toilet seat?

Pretty gross, but don’t worry: it can be cleaned in a few steps. But before you do anything, you should avoid using any kind of rubbing alcohol or disinfectant wipes because it can damage your phone screen. In addition, phones should be unplugged and turned off before cleaning.

For Apple products like the iPhone 11 and other new models, Apple suggests owners use a soft, slightly damp lens cloth to clean the surface of the phone. Normally, that should do the trick since the lens cloth will capture and clean residue, but if dirt or grime is still present after the first clean, you could use a soft, lint-free cloth and apply warm soapy water to it disinfect and clean your iPhone. However, phone users need to be extra careful and try to avoid getting moisture in openings.

A similar cleaning routine can be used for older iPhone models including the iPhone XS, iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 7. For more information on how to properly clean your iPhone and other Apple products, the company has additional details listed on its website.

Other devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Note line advice for a similar cleaning procedure. When cleaning with a dampened cloth, Samsung suggests going up and down the screen to clean it, while using a dry corner of the cloth to remove any excess moisture left on the phone.

If you have a case around your phone, it should be cleaned in addition to your phone at least once a day. Depending on the surface, Lysol wipes or a mixed solution of 60% water and 40% rubbing alcohol (as microbiologist Charles Gerba suggests) should do the trick.

At work

Think about everything that you touch at your desk. From your keyboard to your mouse, it’s time to clean those daily.

Similar rules apply when cleaning your laptop. Apple recommends powering down your device and unplugging it from a power adapter. MacRumors said a Lysol Wipe or two to wipe down areas including the keyboard and trackpad, but be cautious to not get any liquids beyond the surface. Apple suggests squeezing the wipes before use. After the initial cleaning, use a wet microfiber or cloth to wipe down the areas that were dampened.

On the commute

The New York Post spoke with Gerba about how to avoid germs on the New York City subway after the Coronavirus officially reached the Big Apple.

Gerba suggested using hand sanitizer immediately after getting off the subway. Here are a few other tips he recommended:

Avoid crowds: Try to travel during off-peak hours and avoid over-crammed subway cars. More people means more potentially unsanitized hands.

Careful with the turnstile: Avoid using your hands. Gerba said use your hips or the back of your hand when pushing through the turnstiles.

Bags: If your bag touches the subway car or station floor, you should wipe it with a disinfectant wipe immediately.

Phones: Try to avoid using your phone on the subway for germ purposes.

Don’t eat: Because no one wants hand-to-mouth contamination.