The Dos And Don'ts Of Keeping Your Phone Clean In The Time of COVID-19

by Sofia de Aros for   |  Mar 22, 2020
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My phone has a Digital Wellbeing app installed, and it shows that I unlock my phone an average of 92.72 times a day. Each unlock is its own story. I unlock my phone while cooking, vaccuuming, reading, eating, and while having coffee next to my dog. That's 92.72 instances of compounded hand contact with an assortment of things inside my house, and that's not even counting the surfaces where I put down my phone.

Rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizers are the products of the year at this point, since proper hand sanitization is one of the top ways to avoid contracting COVID-19. Let's face it, though: We're so often on our phones—and if we neglect cleaning them, our hands could not possibly stay 100% sanitized. 

According to The New York TimesThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has categorized mobile phones as a "high touch surface," which means it's probably a landfill of all the germs we've come into contact with day in and day out. In addition, a 2017 article by TIME Magazine also claims that our cellphones are 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat. (Yikes!)

That said, here are six tips on how to handle your phone to minimize and eliminate the spread of pathogenic bacteria. 

1. DON'T bring it inside the bathroom. 

A 2011 study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found that one in every six phones they scanned in the UK had particles of fecal matter. If you're bringing your phone to the bathroom, you're likely heightening the chances of unwanted bacteria getting snagged on it. It would be best to make the restroom a strictly no-phone zone—especially if you're planning to use your phone later while you're in bed or getting into your nightly skincare routine. 


2. DON'T let it touch your face. 

Both for virus-avoiding and skincare reasons, your phone should not be allowed to touch your face. If you have to make a phone call, try to use earphones or the speakerphone when you can. When you sleep at night, opt to set your phone on your bedside table or on a shelf, never anywhere near your pillow. Cleaning your phone regularly might make it less dangerous for your face, but why take the risk? 

3. DON'T let others hold it as much as possible. 

Let's say you're at work or school and you chance upon a hysterical meme you have to show your friends. Do you pass your phone around? Maybe not. To be safe, opt to hold the phone as others take a peek, or forward the pic to the group chat. In times like this, it might help to be a bit of a germophobe! 

4. DON'T try to over-clean it. 

Research the type of phone you have and see if the manufacturing company has any tips on how to best clean it. For example, Apple has a list of materials that are too harsh for an iPhone surface, such as aerosol sprays, paper towels, bleaches, and the like. Samsung advises similarly. Needless to say, be very careful when using liquids to clean your phone. 

5. DO use a mild alcohol wipe, or any appropriate cleaning tool. 

Clean your phone whenever you can. If you can afford a touch-up cleaning every other day, do so. When you're sick, it's advisable to wipe your phone with a soft cloth more often than you normally would. In general, agreed-upon phone cleaning tool is a mild, gentle wipe with a bit of 70% isopropyl alcohol, or Clorox disinfecting wipes. The key is to not scrub too hard, lest you make a scratch or destroy your LED. If you feel that the product is too harsh, go at it slowly to be sure, and feel free to do more research. 

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6. DO clean your phone case, too, as well as other phone paraphernalia. 

As you get into the habit of phone-cleaning, don't forget to add all your other gadgets and related accessories to the club. Remember: like so many other things, gadgets come into contact primarily with our hands. In this work-from-home situation, many of us spend hours and hours of our days with our palms pressed against our keyboards. Let's make gadget sanitization a thing, much like skincare! 

Final note: In addition to our gadgets, high-touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, and bedside tables. Now that many of us are at home under community quarantine, it is advisable to clean these surfaces every day, just to be completely safe. Ultimately, in the end, we'll never know if we were too clean, but we'll definitely find out if we weren't clean enough. 

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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