Ever since the Covid-19 outbreak, we’ve never been more cautious about the things we touch. We elbow lift buttons, refrain from touching our faces, and wash our hands incessantly. But what about our mobile phones? After all, our digital BFFs, which we take everywhere with us — even to the toilet — and often hold up to our faces, are one of the dirtiest things we commonly touch. Ten times dirtier than toilet seats, to be exact. Yikes.
According to the Journal of Hospital Infection, coronaviruses and other germs can live on surfaces like glass, metal or plastic for up to nine days, so regardless of how often you wash your hands, you are still going to expose yourself to those same germs if you don’t sanitise your mobile phone. It’s no wonder the Ministry of Health’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak says cleaning our phones is more effective then wearing a mask.
But just frequently wiping your phone on your pants isn’t going to cut it. Ideally, we should be cleaning our devices daily. Here’s how you can keep your phone clean and you safe.
1. Turn off your phone
First and foremost, before you begin cleaning, unplug all cables, turn off your phone and remove the battery, if possible.
2. Use a microfibre cloth
The easiest and most effective way to clean your mobile phone is with a lint-free microfibre cloth. Microfibre traps and removes dust, grease and bacteria, where other products can simply spread them around. Apple also recommends using a lens cloth like the ones that come with glasses.
Do not use: Paper towels or tissue. These can scratch the surface and over time may render your touchscreen non-responsive or become trenches where more bacteria can breed.
3. Wipe down
Dampen one corner of the cloth and gently wipe your screen in a horizontal or vertical direction repeatedly — never spray water directly onto your phone and avoid getting moisture in openings. When done, use a dry corner of cloth to remove any excess moisture on your phone. Make sure you clean the back, sides, and mobile phone case too.
If you are using the iPhone 11 series, it is okay to use warm water and soap, but for older models, stick to good ‘ol H2O.
Do not use: Household cleaners and alcohol on your phone. While they are great for cleaning your home, many cleaning products are abrasive and can contain harsh chemicals that can strip your screen of its oleophobic (oil-repellant) and hydrophobic (water-repellent) coatings, leaving it more vulnerable to scratches.
4. Don’t forget the crevices
For harder-to-reach areas like the speaker ports or microphones openings, gently clean with a dry cotton then remove any debris with a clean soft-bristled brush like a paintbrush. Do not use sharp objects and compressed air as they can damage your speaker or microphone.
5. Dry phone completely
Let your device dry completely before putting it back in your phone case and turning it on.
6. Clean your cloth
To clean the cloth, soak in warm soap solution, rinse it clean and dry completely before using it again.
7. Do not use disinfecting wipes
Most of us do not think twice about using antibacterial wipes to clean our phones. While they are effective at getting rid of dirt and germs, most household disinfectant and antibacterial wipes contain chemicals like alcohol or ammonia that can corrode or eat away at protective coatings.
8. Use only wipes made specifically made for touchscreen devices
If you insist on using germ-killing wipes, go for those that contain no or a diluted amount of alcohol so there’s just enough to kill germs but not enough to damage your phone. If you encounter a very damp wipe, remove any excess liquid before use and avoid getting moisture in openings.
9. Consider UV sanitisers
For serious germaphobes, there are more heavy duty options like all-in-one cleaning kits and UV santisers like the PhoneSoap Charger that cleans your phone with UV light while it charges. The device, which looks like a tanning bed, claims to kill up to 99.99 per cent of the microbes on the surface of your phone, including small crevices, in 10 minutes. You can use it for your headphones and earbuds too.
10. Use Bluetooth headset or headphones
If you’re speaking on the phone a lot, consider using a Bluetooth headset or headphones to avoid bringing your phone up to your face as frequently.