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Bacteria and germs cover every surface you encounter. In fact, your skin holds ten times more bacteria than human cells. Most people reflexively cringe when others cough or sneeze, but the real culprit is your hands. When you bring your palm down on the snooze button at 6 a.m., you deposit germs on your alarm clock. You take part in a germ exchange when you touch a doorknob, stapler, railing or another often touched surface.

The most common germs you can encounter as a result of contaminated contact include ones that cause diarrhea, flu and the cold, but also staph, MRSA, norovirus and more. Fortunately, the skin is the largest organ of the body and pretty resilient, minus the odd scrape or when your immune defenses take a dip. So, don’t forget to hydrate and eat a well-balanced diet to stay on top of your health because where you go, your phone goes, and germs join the party.

Mobile Phones Make Germs More Mobile

Since your skin hosts its own circus of bacteria, you should sanitize anything you regularly touch. Your phone is like another hand, so you must clean it frequently, too. In fact, your phone has roughly 17,000 germs, ten times dirtier than a toilet seat, not to mention that most Americans check their phones 47 times a day.

Now, consider where you place your phone throughout the day. What surfaces does it encounter? Your mobile counterpart goes where you go, whether that’s to the toilet, to dinner or the seat next to you as you take an Uber. Microbiologist Dr. Charles “Germ” Gerba and his team from the University of Arizona tested cell phones that held 100,000 bacteria. Germs have greater mobility these days thanks to mobile phones.

The CDC recommends disinfecting and cleaning frequently touched surfaces daily, especially those touched by other people. Those in a traditional office environment may remember to regularly disinfect desks, keyboards, mouses and corded telephones. However, many forget contact surface decontamination, which should include your cell phone.

Before You Disinfect Your Phone

Unless you come into direct contact with mucus or have a health concern, you may feel like disinfecting your phone daily isn’t necessary. Clean your phone every day when you use your phone during meals and other routines frequently. Some may prefer to clean their mobile phones twice a week while others may do it more often, even twice a day.

Consider increasing how often you sanitize your cell phone during the flu season or at times when you’re more concerned about your health or the surfaces you are interacting with.

So, how do you sanitize your cell phone? Should you use wipes? Is it safe to use alcohol or other chemicals on your phone? When sanitizing your iPhone or Android, review these essential guidelines before disinfecting your phone:

  • Always review the manufacturer’s booklet or website for instructions on cleaning before you disinfect your phone. Different phones are better equipped to handle different cleaners. Google recommends using cleaning wipes or ordinary household soap as needed for the Pixel 3a, but it also does not restrict the use of alcohol-based wipes. Apple states that it’s acceptable to clean iPhones with Clorox disinfectant wipes or 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipes, but every iPhone has different guidelines.
  • Don’t clean your phone while it’s charging. Always remove your phone from its charger and turn it off before you try to clean it.
  • When using wipes, disinfect your phone with wipes specifically made for electronic devices, not wipes used for regular cleaning. Wipes should not contain pure alcohol. The proper wipes will usually specify that they are for electronics on the packaging, such as Windex Electronics Wipes, 3M Electronic Equipment Wipes or Nice N’ Clean Electronic Wipes. Many of these wipes are available at major retailers like Best Buy or Walmart.
  • You can also use e-cloths or microfiber cloths on your phone with a disinfectant. Avoid paper towels as they can be too abrasive.
  • When using liquid disinfectants, be careful with mixing the wrong concentrations of water and alcohol. Though disinfectants can clean cases and perhaps the exterior of a phone, keep it away from the glass. The solution may get underneath the glass and potentially destroy the phone, or at least the oleophobic coating that protects your phone screen.
  • Never use the following to clean your phone for risk of damage: compressed air, aerosol spray cleaners, harsh solvents (like toluene, acetone or benzene), bleach, hydrogen peroxide, abrasive powders or window or household cleaners.

How to Disinfect Your Phone: A General Guide

If not using wipes, here is a general guide on how to safely disinfect most phones with a microfiber cloth and disinfectant solution. To proceed, you’ll need:

  • Lint-free microfiber cloth
  • ½ cup distilled water
  • ½ cup 70% isopropyl alcohol
  • Cotton swabs

Follow these steps to disinfect your phone, comparing them with manufacturer guidelines:

  1. Unplug your phone and turn it off, removing earbuds and the case.
  2. Mix distilled water and isopropyl alcohol in a one-to-one ratio, adding it to a spray bottle. Do not substitute for the distilled water if you live in an area where you have hard water. Shake the bottle like a Polaroid picture.
  3. Gently spray the microfiber cloth with the mixture, not overwetting the cloth. Don’t spray your cell phone directly.
  4. Clean the entire phone using the misted microfiber cloth, wiping down the sides, front and back. To disinfect your phone screen, pay special attention, again, to how wet the cloth is so you don’t damage the phone. Gently wipe the screen.
  5. Look closely for debris in small areas. Do you see any buildup around buttons, attachment ports or the camera lens? Gently use a cotton swab to clean the areas, and follow up with the misted microfiber cloth.
  6. Allow the phone to completely air dry for 15 minutes before use. See the next section for tips on cleaning your cell phone case.

Tips to Clean Your Cell Phone Case

If you sanitize your cell phone, only to put it back in a dirty case, then what’s the point? The protective aspect of the case becomes pointless, in a sense. Phone cases come in different materials, such as leather, hard plastic or silicone. Most cases also have textured edges to give the user a better grip, but these edges are also prone to grime and need regular cleaning.

So, how do you clean each type of case? Here are a few tips:

  • Leather: Clean leather cases with products specified for leather, such as saddle soap. Let the case dry completely before reinserting the phone.
  • Hard plastic: Lightly mist the microfiber cloth with the distilled water and isopropyl alcohol mixture solution. Wipe the case down. Dip a cotton swab in the solution and clean the buttons, lens opening area and any texture edges. Let the case dry completely before reinserting the phone.
  • Silicone: Clean silicone cases with dishwashing soap and warm water. Use a soft cloth to clean grimy areas. Use the microfiber and distilled water/isopropyl alcohol solution technique for daily cleaning. Let the case dry completely before reinserting the phone.

Still don’t think you need to sanitize your phone? While the average person checks their phone 47 times a day, a 2019 dscout survey found that people touch their phone 2,617 times a day. Wiping down your phone, touchscreen and case should at least be part of your weekly routine.

Clean your “office on the go” with as much care as you give your physical office. It’s the little things that give great first impressions and instill confidence in your business investments, especially when you’ve got us to back you up with affordable and secured data plans.