Top Tips for Cleaning Your Cellphone to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 from a Ball State University Health Science Professor

The CDC says while transmission of COVID-19 occurs more commonly through respiratory droplets, "current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials"

Jul 22, 2020 at 11:30 am
click to enlarge Clean your phone - Photo: Jaelynn Castillo
Photo: Jaelynn Castillo
Clean your phone

Spoiler alert: Cellphones are gross and covered in germs.

One out of every 6 smartphones is contaminated with fecal matter says a 2011 study done by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. A 2012 study from the University of Arizona found that cellphones had more germs on them than a toilet seat. And 100% of health care workers' phones and hands in this study were rife with bacteria ranging from Staphylococcus aureus to Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae.

And we've all seen this viral video

So while the CDC says, "Transmission of coronavirus occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than through objects and surfaces, like doorknobs, countertops, keyboards, toys, etc.," they also note, "Current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings."

“We spend more than 2 hours a day touching our phones, share or touch other people’s phones, and touch our face more than a 1,000 times a day, which is a clear pathway for transmission of COVID-19,” says Jagdish Khubchandani, a health science professor at Indiana's Ball State University, who has created tips for how to disinfect your phone.

“First, I would urge people to not touch other people’s phone. And then you should frequently clean your phone. Understandably, phone companies warn you of not using certain chemicals and techniques and you are also worried about damaging a costly phone,” he says.

So how do you clean and disinfect your phone? Here are Khubchandani's steps:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water, scrubbing at least 20 seconds
  • Turn off your phone
  • Remove the battery, separate any covers, and open/disassemble the phone as much as you can
  • Use a light hairdryer at a safe distance to blow off dust and particles from all phone surfaces
  • Take a piece of cloth and dampen it with soap water or body wash
  • Use computer screen cleaning wipes to gently clean all surfaces.
  • Dry with a clean cloth or blow dry. Dispose all wipes and cloth pieces used and seal your phone.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, scrubbing at least 20 seconds. In the cleaning process, do not touch your face.

And CDC says: "For electronics follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products. Consider use of wipeable covers for electronics. If no manufacturer guidance is available, consider the use of alcohol-based wipes or spray containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens. Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids."

End result: Disinfect your phone.