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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.
What Are the Best Ways to Clean Your Cell Phone?
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. 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.
2. PhoneSoap 3 UV Smartphone Sanitizer
One of the most effective ways to clean your phone is using a UV (ultraviolet) sanitizer.
Blasting your phone with UV light can kill up to 99.9% of germs, including bacteria, including those that transmit disease. There is no definitive proof UV light can kill bacteria associated with COVID-19, but it can get rid of other nasty germs.
Although it’s powerful enough to kill germs, UV light cannot damage your smartphone. It won’t even make it hot to the touch after a few minutes of exposure.
PhoneSoap’s, third-generation UV sanitizer is our favorite option if you’re only cleaning your smartphone. It’s compact, and takes just 10 minutes to clean both the front and back of your device. You can even charge your device by snaking a cable from your phone to one of its USB ports.
The PhoneSoap 3 needs to be plugged in at all times to work properly — if you have to go to multiple locations for work, we recommend the portable PhoneSoap Go. Your phone is probably the dirtiest device you touch all day, and PhoneSoap’s UV sanitizer can make it clean.
3. Papablic 4-in-1 UVC Sterilizer and Dryer
If you need to clean multiple devices at once, this 4-in-1 UV Sterilizer and Dryer is our top choice.
Roughly the size of a small air fryer or Instant Pot, this UV sanitizer has two advantages: You can clean more gear at once, and sanitize larger tech like the Nintendo Switch, or an iPad. Using the sanitizer takes about 10 minutes and the brand says its dual UV-C bulbs can kill 99.9% of bacteria.
What sets this UV sanitizer apart is that it also has a drying function. This is useful if you want to deep clean non-tech objects like baby bottles or stuffed animals (the large 10L capacity holds up to 11 bottles). You can set the UV sanitizer to dry an object, then blast it with UV light to sterilize it. You can set the drying and sterilization times simultaneously, so you don’t have to get up in the middle of its cleaning.
We’ve gotten a chance to test both of these functions out for ourselves, and they work very well. It’s easy to pick the proper settings, and a countdown timer can tell you how much time you’ve got left at a glance.
If you want to sterilize your tech, sunglasses, wallet, jewelry, watch, and other accessories at the same time, this UV Sterilizer is the one we recommend.
4. Monos CleanPod UVC Sterilizer Wand
Cleaning the tech you touch every day is important, but Monos’ CleanPod allows you to disinfect surfaces, too — and on the go.
The handheld wand features 14 lights that fire UV so powerful it can kill 99.9% of bacteria and pathogens in just 30 seconds. You can wave it over your devices to sterilize them, or use it on commonly used surfaces like your desk. It’s a great way to clean tech of any size without keeping it in a chamber.
You can use this device one-handed (once you turn it on), and its curved handle is comfortable to grip for several minutes at a time. As we start traveling, Monos’ CleanPod is an essential accessory for disinfecting plane or bus seats. We like packing it in our suitcase to help sterilize hotel beds and high-touch surfaces when we’re traveling, too.
5. utilimedic UV8LED UV Light Sanitizer
There are a number of ways to charge your phone in the car, but we’ve been using this UV sanitizer to disinfect our phone while driving too. The utilimedic UV8LED sanitizer uses eight UV-C LED lights to help eliminate 99.9% of bacteria and viruses in five minutes or less. We also use the car sanitizer to disinfect our phone, keys, sunglasses and more, since most small accessories fit into the case.
The case comes with a grippy base, which sits securely on your dashboard and won’t shift or slide while you drive. An include 12-volt outlet plug lets you power up the case through your car cigarette lighter/outlet.
What we like: the car sanitizer also works as a charger, via direct USB phone charging or by placing your device on the wireless charging pad located at the top.