These days, people are quick to worry about coming in contact with the coronavirus on "high-touch" surfaces in public places, such as elevator buttons in office buildings or door handles in restrooms. But they may be ignoring one of the most-touched objects of all — their phones.
Tests done by scientists show that the virus can live on surfaces such as plastic, glass and stainless steel for hours or days, although the Centers for Disease Control says "this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads." Still, the CDC recommends cleaning all high-touch surfaces daily, including phones, keyboards and tablet computers.
How to do it?
Several companies, including one on Long Island, are marketing phone cleaners that use UV-C light to sanitize the devices.
For example, Spectronics Corp. in Westbury makes a CellBlaster phone sanitizer that sells for $139.99.
The product, which also can be used for glasses, watches and other small devices, eliminates "up to 99.9% of germs, viruses, and bacteria on any portion of the mobile device exposed to the UV light," according to the company web site.
Other options, with prices ranging from $49.99 to nearly $200, include the Pur Phon-itizer from Pur-Well Living and several models from Utah-based PhoneSoap. Pur-Well's website says its device is temporarily sold out "due to overwhelming demand."
It's unclear how effective the devices are against the coronavirus.
Though Spectronics' CellBlaster "has been laboratory tested against common household bacteria and other common viruses," it has not yet been tested on the virus that causes COVID-19, its web site says.
Samsung, the world’s biggest phone manufacturer, has offered a UV-C light phone-sanitizing service at select stores and service centers. The company cautioned that all bacteria, germs and viruses might not be eliminated.
To clean your phone yourself, both Samsung and Apple recommend more old-fashioned methods, such as using a soft, slightly damp, lint-free cloth.
In answer to the question, "Is it OK to use a disinfectant on my iPhone?", the Apple website says: "Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the exterior surfaces of your iPhone. Don't use bleach. Avoid getting moisture in any openings, and don't submerge your iPhone in any cleaning agents."
AT&T further recommends wringing out disinfectant wipes, and says paper towels work, too. You can spray them with disinfectant; don’t spray the cleaner on the phone itself.
Cleaning products may damage the fingerprint-resistant, oil repellent coating included on iPhones, Apple says.