Keep your phone coronavirus-free: Here’s how to clean it safely

Korin Miller

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Make sure you're regularly cleaning your phone. (Photo: Getty)

Thanks to coronavirus, many people are realizing they should be cleaning some regularly-used items more than they have in the past. A good example: phones.

It’s no secret that phones are dirty—research has found they can carry a lot of different microbes that could make you sick, like Staphylococcus aureus and pseudomonas. Even more studies have discovered pathogens like streptococcusMRSA, and E. coli, on phones. And, of course, your phone, like other objects, can carry SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

That raises a major question: How should you clean your phone?

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends steps for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, practicing social distancing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces regularly, like door handles, countertops, and toilets. But the CDC doesn’t specify say how to clean a delicate device like your phone.

“I don't think there is any official guidance for this,” Richard Watkins, M.D., an infectious disease physician in Akron, Ohio, and a professor of internal medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. Watkins says he cleans his phone “with a bleach wipe once or twice a day.”

Apple recently released updated guidance on how to clean iPhones. The company says you should do the following:

  • Unplug all cables and turn off your iPhone.

  • Use a soft, slightly damp, lint-free cloth, like a lens cloth.

  • If material is still present, use a soft, lint-free cloth with warm soapy water.

  • Avoid getting moisture in openings.

  • Don’t use cleaning products or compressed air.

Your iPhone has a fingerprint-resistant oil-repellent coating and cleaning products and abrasive materials will diminish the coating and might scratch your iPhone, Apple says. (Of course, if you have a screen cover, this is less of a concern.)

Apple also says that you “may” use a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes to gently wipe the exterior surfaces of your iPhone, but the company cautions against using bleach.

If you want to sterilize your phone, you’ll want to make sure you do it properly. “It’s very important to note that the appropriate concentration of alcohol for killing bacteria and viruses is between 60 and 80%,” Donald W. Schaffner, PhD, a professor at Rutgers University who has researched handwashing and cross-contamination, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “If you water down your alcohol, it’s not going to be very effective at killing microorganisms.”

While cleaning your phone regularly is important, keeping your hands clean and only touching your phone after you’ve cleaned your hands is even more important, Schaffner says.

Still, there are plenty of cool tools out there that swear they can help clean your phone, like UV lights and anti-microbial covers. None of these are scientifically proven to work against coronavirus, and Watkins says it’s still a good idea to disinfect your phone regularly with more standard tools. “Even if I had an antimicrobial cover, I would still clean it with a bleach wipe,” he says.

 Want an added layer of protection? These are worth looking into.

Swisstek UV-CLEAN

This smartphone sanitizer doubles as a wireless charger. (Photo: Swisstek)

The Swisstek UV-CLEAN can kill up to 99.99 percent of surface viruses and bacteria, thanks to its dual UV disinfection light system. In fact, it can even kill germs inside of charging ports for a full deep clean. Along with just about any smartphone, this device can also clean keys, glasses, earbuds and other small household items.

On top of that, the Swisstek UV-CLEAN doubles as a wireless charger for your smartphone. Right now, it’s on sale for just $50, or $150 off at That’s 75 percent off.

 Casetify UV Sanitizer

The sanitizer destroys 99.9 percent of germs that live on your phone. (Photo: Casetify)

Casetify’s UV sanitizer destroys 99.9% of germs that live on your phone's surface in three minutes. The sanitizer uses six Mercury-free UV lamps to take out germs. Simply place your phone in the sanitizer, close the lid, push a button, wait a few minutes, and you’re good to go.

PhoneSoap 3 Phone Sanitizer

This case both sanitizes and charges your phone. (Photo: PhoneSoap)

PhoneSoap’s phone sanitizer kills 99.9% of germs with UV light while it charges your phone. It fits all smartphones and most case sizes, and can sanitize anything you can fit inside. The sanitizer also has an acoustic audio amplifier so you can hear alarms and notifications while it goes to work.

Speck Presidio Pro

In addition to drop protection, the case also offers Microban antimicrobial protection. (Photo: Speck)

Speck’s Presidio Pro case is sleek and simple, and it contains Microban antimicrobial protection to help keep germs off your phone. Microban also continues to repel germs for the life of your case. The case comes in five different colors.

Homedics UV-Clean Phone Sanitizer

Household germs are no match for this phone sanitizer. (Photo: Homedics)

Homedics’ UV-Clean Phone Sanitizer kills up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses with the use of UV light. The sanitizer uses two UV-C germicidal LED lights to fight germs in a minute. To use it, put your phone in the case, zip it up, and turn it on. After 30 seconds, flip your phone over, and do the same thing to clean the other side.

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