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Department of Health News

How Clean is Your Phone?

Phone Germs

There are plenty of ways to spread cold and flu viruses: door handles, shaking hands, not covering your mouth properly when you cough or sneeze, working with the public or groups of children, or even kissing your spouse before they show symptoms of illnesses. But have you ever thought about smart phones or tablets spreading diseases?

First of all, how many germs are on your smart phones or tablets? Aside from cold or flu viruses, over 2/3 of Americans admit to taking their smart phones into the bathroom with them, including over 90% of the Gen Y population. Basically, our phones and tablets, without proper cleaning, can get pretty gross.

The Journal of Applied Microbiology recently found a high risk of transmitting pathogens from glass surfaces (like our tablet devices) to human skin. If a virus gets transmitted to the screen of your smart device, there is a 30% chance it will get on your fingertip, which can then travel to your nose or eyes to infect you.

So how do we clean our phones to make sure we're not turning them into our own personal petri dishes? According to Apple:

  • Use only a soft, lint-free cloth (microfiber is a great example)
  • Avoid abrasive cloths, towels, paper towels, etc.
  • Unplug all external power sources, devices, and cables
  • Keep liquids away from the product
  • Don't get moisture into any opening
  • Don't use aerosol sprays, solvents, or abrasives
  • Don't spray cleaners directly onto the item

Since they don't recommend using anything with alcohol, ammonia, and other popular cleaners. A great alternative is to use a screen protector that is more tolerant to cleaning supplies (when applied to a cloth first). Plus, they're easier to replace than a new screen on your device and protect from scratches. Isopropyl cleaning wipes are also a great solution that you can pick up at most stores that sell smart phones and tablets.

Basically, use common sense when cleaning your device, or when touching other people's stuff. It's flu season, so wash your hands maybe more than usual and keep hand sanitizer handy when you go out into public. It's impossible to completely stop the spreading of germs, but there are also obvious precautions we can all take to avoid getting sick.