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With all the talk of washing or sanitizing your hands, it’s easy to forget the devices our hands touch the most. We’re talking cell phones, tablets and laptops, which can often transmit germs and viruses as easily as a handshake or hug.
According to tech care company Asurion, Americans check their phones an average of 96 times a day (that’s at least once every 10 minutes) – and that’s how often we expose ourselves to potentially harmful germs.
Many people cite a University of Arizona study that found that cell phones carry up to ten times more bacteria than a toilet seat, but a more recent study found on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website also warned that phones are “not only capable of transferring messages, but also disease-producing microbes.” What’s worse: most bacteria and viruses can live on inanimate surfaces — like your phone or laptop screen — for up to nine days.
The Asurion study found that 45% of Americans have used their phones in a public restroom, and nearly 60% of adults admit to putting their phones down on a table or counter at a restaurant or bar. When you think about how often we put our phones to our faces, or pass them around to friends (say, to read a text or take a photo), it’s even more imperative to be keeping our devices clean.
We already know to use hand sanitizer (Amazon still has a portable one available here and a larger pack available here) but a number of companies have introduced easy ways to disinfect your devices too. While we can’t exactly give our iPhones a bath, we can use specially-formulated cleaning solutions, or harness the power of UV light to zap germs and viruses for good. These hacks keep your phone screens clean, while keeping you away from harmful particles. A bonus: these make great gifts for germaphobes too.
We’ve rounded up the best ways to clean your phone. Keep these products on hand at home, in the office and in your bag, so you never have to worry about a dirty phone getting in the way of your day — or your health — again.
1. Care Touch Lens Cleaning Wipes
Pick up a pack of these Care Touch pre-moistened wipes, which help remove bacteria, dust, dirt and germs from your devices. The ammonia-free formula restores shine to your glass surfaces without leaving streaks or residue. The durable material, meantime, is tough enough to remove stains, but gentle enough to not scratch your screens or lenses.
These wipes work for all glass surfaces, from sunglasses, to phone screens, to computer screens and camera lenses. They’re great for cleaning mirrors and car windows too, and are safe enough to be used on other non-glass surfaces, like a home phone or keyboard.
In addition to getting rid of bacteria, the wipes also help to remove smudges, dirt and fingerprints. A single swipe usually does the trick.
PROS: Individually-wrapped wipes are easy to carry around and won’t dry out, like wipes in a single container. The fine fibers won’t scratch your lenses.
CONS: You may prefer a more textured wipe for stuck-on grime and dirt.
2. Screen Mom Screen Cleaner Kit
Get a more gentle clean with this eco-friendly spray, made from plant-based ingredients and no alcohol, ammonia or harmful phosphates. The cleaning solution also comes in a handy spray bottle rather than an aerosol can.
The spray is highly effective at blasting through dirt and grime, and wipes clean with the included microfiber cloth, with no streaks. This spray works wonders on phone and tablets, but is also safe for TVs, computer monitors, and more, making it great to keep around the house.
The microfiber cloth is soft and plush, and won’t leave scratches. Contrary to some thinking, the microfiber material won’t completely kill bacteria and viruses, but it will remove them from your screens by “trapping” the particles in the cloth’s tiny fibers. Pop the cloth into the washing machine to refresh.
PROS: Microfiber cloth is machine-washable and reusable. Odorless spray.
CONS: Not as portable as cleaning wipes.
3. HoMedics UV-Clean Portable Sanitizer
Save your screens from constant wiping and rubbing by using this sanitizer bag instead. The notebook-sized pouch uses powerful UV-C LED light to kill up to 99.9% of bacteria and eliminate viruses ten times faster than ordinary wipes alone.
Unzip the pouch and place your phone on the cleaning platform inside. Four built-in UV lights get to work, safely disinfecting both sides of your phone without the use of any liquids or harmful chemicals. The phone is fully sanitized in less than 60 seconds. The included lithium ion battery is rechargeable and gets you up to 70 uses on a single charge.
In addition to phones, the HoMedics Portable Sanitizer can also be used to clean things like keys, jewelry, glasses, remotes, a deck of cards, and other small accessories. It’s also safe enough to use on grooming and skincare items, like a comb or makeup brushes.
The pouch is made from a durable yet lightweight material and weighs just 14 ounces. It measures 4.1 x 3 x 8 inches.
PROS: The set comes with a removable platform tray and interlocking clips, to keep your items in place for maximum UV exposure.
CONS: A little too small to clean e-readers and tablets.