How to Disinfect Your iPhone During Cold and Flu Season

How to Disinfect Your iPhone During Cold and Flu Season

Your phone is covered with germs These products can help you clean it without damaging your device

Your phone is covered with germs. These products can help you clean it without damaging your device.

We have some bad news about your smartphone: it's disgusting.

"Cell phones are one of the dirtiest things we encounter daily," Charles Gerba, PhD, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona who is often referred to by his nickname, Dr. Germ, tells Health.

Need proof? In 2017, researchers from his university studied germs on the cell phones of high school students and found that their devices carried 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats. Yikes.

"Very rarely do people clean their phones, [so] germs and bacteria continue to build up and accumulate, including E. coli, influenza, and MRSA, just to name a few," Gerba explains.

This is gross, but it's even grosser when you think about how much time you spend tapping, swiping, and pressing your cheek against that thing—according to a 2015 survey by Deloitte, the average American checks her phone an amazing 47 times a day.

But the real issue isn't just that phones are super germy; it's that they're the ideal vehicles for spreading germs to other people.

"Many phones have touch screens, and germs are easily spread from your phone to your hands and face, increasing the chance of infections," says Gerba. "We're in constant contact with them, and they spend a lot of time near our face and mouth."

Good thing it's easier than you think to quickly disinfect your device on the go. Gerba recommends cleaning your smartphone at least once a day, or more often if you've been passing it around to your friends. It's also essential to practice good general hygiene habits, such as not taking your phone into the bathroom (seriously, don't do it) and washing hands frequently.

Here, the best phone-cleaning products to keep on hand—and use often!—this cold and flu season.

Microfiber cloths


One of the easiest ways to clean your phone frequently—especially after someone else has touched your screen—is to keep a stash of microfiber cloths in your purse to quickly wipe them down.

(No, the corner of your shirt does not suffice, Gerba says.) These microfiber cloths come in a pack of six, so you'll be able to keep backups in your desk and beside table.

Rubbing alcohol and water


Microfiber cloths help, but for a serious deep clean, Gerba recommends trying a home solution of 60% water and 40% rubbing alcohol. To use, "lightly dampen the corner of a soft, lint-free microfiber cloth or cotton swab or square with the mix," he says.

Important: Don’t apply or spray the mix directly onto your phone, which could damage it. "Gently wipe phones to kill unwanted bacteria and use a dry corner of the cloth to remove any excess liquid on your phone," he says.

Disinfectant wipes


If you prefer not to mix your own solution, you can try packaged Lysol or Clorox disinfectant wipes, Gerba says. Just be careful about using them on your device, as these clothes tend to be saturated with liquid; they might be a better choice for using on your cellphone case, for example.

Hand sanitizer


We've said it time and time again, but seriously, washing your hands often is one of the best ways to stay germ-free during cold and flu season. Make sure you're using plenty of warm, soapy water and rinsing for at least 20 seconds, about as long as it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice.

Using hand sanitizer is also a good idea. "Most alcohol-based sanitizers work only when wet and evaporate quickly," Gerba notes. "The best choices are ones that offer residual protection, meaning they continue to work long after they have been applied, such as Zoono GermFree24 Hand Sanitizer, which kills germs for up to 24 hours and with just one application a day." (Gerba is a researcher for the brand.)

UV light


Prefer a device that can do the disinfecting for you? Try a UV cleaner, Gerba says. This one can kill 99.9% of bacteria and germs in just six minutes, and comes in a slew of fun colors like hot pink and blue.

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