The rapid spread of coronavirus has heightened awareness around germs and how easily we come into contact with them. Coronaviruses, including Covid-19 are said to be able to survive on some surfaces for several days. Considering how often we touch our phones after being out in the world, it makes them a potential target for infection.
With the number of confirmed coronavirus infections steadily rising in the country's major cities, it's likely more and more Australians with suspected symptoms will head in to get tested. In order to better understand how the process works, we asked the Department of Health what happens when you're required to test.
What Not To Use On A Phone
Cleaning a phone isn't as simple as scrubbing it down with a paper towel and surface spray. Screens are delicate and cleaning agents can damage them. Vinegar and alcohol based substances in particular can eat away at the oleophobic coating.
- Household cleaners
- Compressed air
- Vinegar (at least not for the screen)
- Paper towel
- Window cleaner
What To Use To Clean A Phone
This depends entirely on your phone model. For example, something as simple as water won't be okay for older devices that don't have an IP rating - but you can certainly use it with most devices that have come out over the last couple of years and have a high IP rating.
As you'll see below, many modern iPhones and some Androids can tolerate 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipes or disinfectant wipes. But still, be careful if your phone is older.
That said, there are a few things that you can use on almost all devices.
Antimicrobial cleaning cloths are gentle on phone screens, can kill a large number of bacteria and help reduce the spread of viruses. If your phone is IP rated you can even use a little water to help clean your screen.
If you're using a screen protector you have a few more options. You're won't have a problem using disinfecting wipes because it won't damage the screen. A small amount of soap and water, making sure not to get any in the charging ports or headphone jack, would also be fine here. If you are using a screen protector it's probably a good idea to replace them more regularly than usual right now.
If you want to go to the full extreme and don't mind spending some cash, you can also invest in a UV sanitiser, also known as Phone Soap. Ultraviolet light can kill bacteria, and there are gadgets out there specifically design to do this for phones.
It only takes a few minutes and you can fit other smaller items in there as well (earbuds, watch, keys) if you want to give them a UV-based bath.
How To Disinfect An iPhone
Apple recently updated its information regarding the use of disinfecting wipes.
"Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your Apple product, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces. Don't use bleach. Avoid getting moisture in any opening, and don't submerge your Apple product in any cleaning agents. Don't use on fabric or leather surfaces," said Apple on its website.
Of course, this may be difficult considering that its nearly impossible to actually buy isopropyl or other kinds of disinfectant wipes right now.
Apple also offers the following information on how to clean an iPhone 11:
- Unplug all cables and turn off your iPhone.
- Use a soft, slightly damp, lint-free cloth—for example, a lens cloth.
- If material is still present, use a soft, lint-free cloth with warm soapy water.
- Avoid getting moisture in openings.
- Don’t use cleaning products or compressed air.
Instructions for the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7 are similar, but Apple does not recommend using soapy water.
You can read the full details on Apple's website, including instructions for older iPhone generations all the back to the iPhone 3G.
How to disinfect An Android phone
Google offers similar information to Apple when it comes to cleaning the Pixel. This advice can be applied to most modern Androids, too.
- Wipe your phone clean
- Turn off and unplug your phone.
- With a soft, lint-free cloth, gently wipe off your phone.
- For most streaks, smudges, or dust, use a dry cloth.
- For most colour transfers, like from makeup or a new pair of jeans, use a damp cloth.
- For other stains and grime on screen: use screen wipes or eyeglasses cleaner.
- For other stains and grime on the backs and sides: use ordinary household soap or bleach-free cleaning wipes.
Google has also advised that you can disinfect its phones by using "ordinary household disinfecting wipes or 70% isopropyl alcohol-based wipes. Don’t use wipes that have bleach."
Gizmodo Australia has reached out to Samsung locally to see what disinfecting advice it has for its customers.
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