Keep it clean: How to improve your device hygiene

March 19, 2020

For all the things we touch throughout the day, we touch our phones more than anything else. And multiple studies have shown that our phones are germier than a toilet seat. Yuck. And on top of that, according to recent studies, Americans are checking their phones anywhere from about 50 to 100 times a day, and actually pressing and swiping more than 2,500 times per day.

Proper device hygiene has never been more important. Here are T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile’s tips for keeping the germs away:

1. Don’t use your phone in the restroom.

When toilets flush, they can spread germs all over the place, including the surface of our phones. And as long as we’re having the bathroom talk, make sure to always wash your hands after visiting the facilities and, of course, throughout the day. The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds — about the amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. We know, singing “Happy Birthday” several times a day can get annoying. Check out Seattle Times’ list of 10 awesome songs to sing while you wash your hands.

2. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize.

Hand sanitizer isn’t an exact substitute for washing your hands, but for general germ battling throughout the day, it’s a decent, reliable backup. Spend about the same 20 seconds covering your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer until they’re dry. And here’s a bonus pro tip: avoid touching your face with your phone. Rather than sneezing or coughing into your screen when you’re sick — and turning your device into a germ breeding ground — think about using earbuds, AirPods or speakerphone.

Disinfect your phone with wipes, not pure alcohol.

If you touch your phone after touching a public door handle or grocery cart, you may immediately think to clean it with rubbing alcohol. Don’t. Straight alcohol can strip the oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings that keep oil and water from damaging your display and other ports.

In the past, we were instructed to not use disinfectant wipes on our phone screens, but now Apple says it’s OK to use Clorox Wipes and others with similar concentrations. Samsung hasn’t commented on whether it’s safe to use disinfectant wipes on its phones.

AT&T’s recently revised cleaning guidelines suggest that you “spray a nonabrasive or alcohol-based (70 percent isopropyl) disinfectant directly on a soft lint-free cloth and wipe down your device while it is powered down and unplugged.” An earlier version of the company’s post suggested using paper towels, which are far too abrasive (see below). After we reached out, AT&T has since changed its post to reflect the soft cloth.

UV light phone cleaner

Another option for day-today cleaning is investing in a UV light, such as Phone- Soap. This UV light company claims to kill 99.99 percent of germs and banishes bacteria. As far as we know, it hasn’t been tested in relation to this strain of coronavirus.

3. Last but not least, clean your device.

Different device manufacturers have different do’s and don’ts for cleaning your phone; check the booklet that came with your device or visit the manufacturer’s website for specifics. We suggest cleaning your device with a damp microfiber cloth, and wiping down your phone and case completely. Be cautious of using alcohol and household cleaners as they may damage your phone.

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